PICO RIVERA >> A judge sentenced an Oxnard man who fatally shot a valet and wounded a security guard at the El Rodeo nightclub to prison Wednesday, two days before the club’s owner is due in federal court to answer to charges of laundering money for drug traffickers, officials said.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Sebastian Zazueta, 22, in January of first-degree murder, as well as four counts of attempted murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The jury also found true special allegations that he personally used a gun in the crimes.
He received a sentence of 114 years to life in state prison, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brandon Wong said.
Melvin Ernesto Cortez-Ortega, 37, of Hacienda Heights died following the Sept. 22, 2013, early-morning shooting outside nightclub, 8825 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
A then-26-year-old security guard was also shot several times in the attack but survived his injuries, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators and prosecutors.
Zazueta unleashed a barrage of bullets after he got into an argument with a security guard who told him to leave the parking lot after the club had closed, Wong said.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies investigated reports of a shooting Friday, but found no sign of a victim or suspect, officials said.
Authorities received calls reporting gunfire about 7:33 p.m. in the 300 block of West Nubia Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of Latino men shooting at a black man with a semi-automatic handgun, she said. It was unclear of the intended target was struck.
But deputies found no victim or suspects at the scene, Edwards said. And no gunshot victims had shown up at nearby hospitals Friday night.
EL MONTE >> An El Monte man died Wednesday in a shooting at an Elliot Avenue apartment, officials said.
Juan Carlos Salazar, 22, died in the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
The fatal shooting took place about 6:45 p.m. in the 11000 block of Elliot Avenue, just east of Tyler Avenue, El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowry said.
After receiving a call reporting gunshots, “Officers responded to the location and found a male in his 20s who was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds,” Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The victim died at the scene.
The shooting took place inside an apartment, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Though a local resident, Salazar was not believed to have lived in the apartment where he was shot, Lt. Dave Dolson of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. It was unclear why was there.
“The incident appears to be gang related,” Moody said.
No suspect information was available, and further details were released Thursday.
Police went door-to-door talking to residents of the street, which is densely packed with apartments.
Other officers kept watch over the rear side of the shooting scene facing Schmidt Avenue. Police with flashlights examined a wall to the rear of the Elliot Avenue apartments.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are assisting El Monte police in the investigation, Lowry said.
Anyone with information can reach the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
ALTADENA >> A man is accused making threats and firing a gun into the ceiling of an Altadena bar Saturday night, officials said.
Deputies arrested Freddy Flores, 51, on suspicion of making criminal threats, negligent discharge of a firearm and drunken driving following the shooting, which took place just before midnight at the Altadena Ale & Wine House, 2329 Fair Oaks Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Flores hometown was not available, however he was believed to be something of a regular at the bar, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Randy Tuinstra said.
Flores made threats and pulled a revolver, firing three shots into the ceiling, the lieutenant said. He then left the bar and drove off.
It was unclear what precipitated the shooting.
Deputies responding to reports of the shooting found Flores driving nearby and pulled him over, Tuinstra said. “He appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.”
Deputies recovered a revolver from Flores with three fired shell casings still in the cylinder, he said.
According to county booking records, Flores was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court.
EL MONTE >> An unknown gunman shot an El Monte man in the back Friday afternoon in a seemingly unprovoked attack along Maxson Road, authorities said.
Lt. Ben Lowry said El Monte police received a call about a shooting in the 3700 block of Maxson Road at 3:24 p.m.
Police found no victims at the scene, however a person showed up at a local emergency room with a gunshot wound a short time later, the lieutenant said. The wounded man had been taken to a hospital by private vehicle.
The man suffered a gunshot wound to his back and was being treated for injuries not considered to life-threatening, Lowry said.
The 21-year-old victim reported he was walking down the street when a Latino man of this build carrying a black handgun approached him from behind, police said.
Five or six shots were fired, but only one struck the man, Lowry said.
The motive in the shooting was not clear.
Officials briefly placed nearby Baker Elementary School and Jerry Voorhis Elementary School on lockdown following the gunfire, Lowry said.
COVINA >> Police arrested a 21-year-old Covina man Tuesday who accidentally shot a teenage friend in the arm earlier this month, officials said.
Marcos Santiago Contreras, 21, is accused of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting, which took place about 7 a.m. Feb. 14 in the 500 block of Rimsdale Avenue, according to Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers responded to a reports of a shooting when they found a 16-year-old boy walking in the area with a gunshot wound to his left arm, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said.
The teen did not cooperate with investigators and told police he was wounded in a drive-by shooting, Peterson said. But police concluded the boy’s story was false.
Detectives eventually determined the teen had been shot accidentally while riding in a car nearby, he said.
Contreras was driving with the teen as a passenger, the sergeant said. Contreras was showing off a handgun to the teen when the gun went off. The wounded boy exited the car, and Contreras drove off.
After determining what had taken place, Peterson said officers arrested Contreras shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday at his home in the 19000 block of East Arrow Highway.
During a search of the suspect’s home, police found a gun believed to have been involved in the shooting, Peterson said. Police also recovered a fired bullet from the door of Contreras’ car.
According to county booking records, Contreras was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in West Covina Superior Court.
PHOTO of Marcos Santiago courtesy of the Covina Police Department.
VALINDA >> A man died at the scene of a shooting inside his own home in Valinda home early Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting took place just before 4 a.m. at a house in the 16000 block of Garrett Court, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
A man gathered with family members at the corner of the small cul-de-sac said the home was that of his brother. The man said he did not know what had happened and he was waiting for information from the sheriff’s department. He did not wish to comment further.
The street was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape as investigators continued gathering clues inside the well-kept, beige, two-story home.
Detectives, coroner officials and forensic investigators continued working at the home through Sunday afternoon.
Nearby neighbors said they did not hear any gunshots, or anything else unusual in the early-morning hours.
Tony Hoke was sleeping at the home a friend next to the shooting scene.
“What woke us up was the sirens,” he said.
Deputies knocked on his door a short time later to ask if he’d heard or seen anything regarding the shooting, he said.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting or any possible suspects was released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PASADENA >> A jury convicted three men of murder and other crimes Friday for the 2013 shotgun slaying of a Pasadena man in an attempted robbery during a marijuana transaction, authorities said.
Gang members Peter Parra, 37, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 27, of north Hollywood and Raymond Frank Conchas, 26, of Covina each face life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to Los Angeles Superior Court for sentencing April 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
A jury found each of the three men guilty of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy to a commit a crime for the Jan. 15, 2013, slaying of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein at Maple Avenue and Chester Street in Pasadena, officials said.
“The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during a robbery and allegations that a shotgun was used and the crime was for the benefit of a gang,” Santiago said.
The victim was riding in a car with his then-24-year-old brother when the shooting occurred.
Prior to the fatal attack, the brothers had arranged to meet the suspects in an alleyway to by a small amount of marijuana, which police described as less than an ounce.
“When the victim arrived, the defendants attempted to rob him and shot him in the head with a shotgun as he tried to escape near Maple Street and Chester Avenue,” Santiago said. Goldstein’s brother escaped serious injury.
A fourth suspect in the slaying, 21-year-old Michael Piepoli, received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in November after being convicted of the killing, officials said. And a fifth defendant, 20-year-old Ward Lacey, is scheduled to go on trial for the killing in Feb. 23.
MONTEBELLO >> A man escaped injury Sunday when a masked gunman opened fire on him in a seemingly random shooting in a Montebello alley, authorities said.
The incident took place about 3:30 p.m. in an alley behind the 100 block of North Poplar Avenue, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said.
A man was standing in the alley when he noticed a male attacker with a handgun crouching near a car, wearing all black clothing and a bandana over his face, the lieutenant said.
Flores said the gunman fired two shots, both of which missed the victim. The bullets struck two nearby apartments, but injured no one.
The attacker fled on foot and was not found, Flores said. The victim told investigators he had no idea who the gunman was.
Anyone with information can reach Montebello police at 323-887-1313.
MONTEREY PARK >> A Monterey Park senior citizen reported as potentially suicidal shot and killed himself when police pulled over his car Sunday, officials said.
Family members contacted police about 11 a.m. to report the 69-year-old man suffered from depression, anxiety and paranoia and had made statements indicating he may have been suicidal, Monterey Park police Sgt. Art Rousseau said. There was no indication the man was armed.
Officers found the man driving less than 45 minutes later and pulled over his car in the 1800 block of West Garvey Avenue, the sergeant said.
The driver pulled to the side of the road and shot himself once in the head with ha handgun, Rousseau said.
Paramedics rushed the man to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, he said.
An autopsy was to be carried out by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, Rousseau said.