UPDATED: South El Monte man arrested for assault, wanted for questioning in murder case


SOUTH EL MONTE >> A SWAT team arrested a person of interest Thursday in the fatal shooting of a man in the same neighborhood a month ago, authorities said.
Deputies responded to a home in the 2500 block of Continental Avenue after the wanted man was spotted about 3:30 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jorge Marchena said.
Officials evacuated nearby homes before ordering the suspect to surrender, which he did just under two hours later, the sergeant said.
“He surrendered peacefully,” Marchena said.
Rigoberto De Leon, 24, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, officials said.
De Leon was arrested in connection with an assault on his father that took place last week, but was also wanted for questioning in the May 11 slaying of Humberto Nava, 31, which occurred on the same street, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. Nava lived in a nearby apartment.
While Corina stopped short of labeling De Leon a suspect in the slaying, “We’re looking at him as possibly being involved in the murder,” he said. “We’re going to talk to him about it.”
Deputies initially responding to the scene described De Leon as a murder suspect.
De Leon and Nava were neighbors and belonged to the same El Monte street gang, Corina said.
Further details regarding last week’s alleged assault were not available Thursday evening.
Nava was found shot behind an apartment complex about 5:30 a.m. May 11, Corina said. He had been shot once in the torso and died at the scene.
Witnesses reported hearing an argument just before the gunfire, the lieutenant said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact 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.


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Rosemead man killed in hit-and-run while riding bike in South El Monte

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A Rosemead man died after he was struck by two vehicles, both of which fled the scene, while riding his bicycle along Rosemead Boulevard early Saturday, authorities said.
Los Angeles County coroner’s officials identified the victim as 47-year-old Heriberto Ruiz.
He died at the scene of the series of collisions that unfolded about 2:50 a.m. in the southbound lanes of Rosemead Boulevard, just north of the 60 Freeway, Officer T. Olson of the California Highway Patrol’s East Los Angeles Station said in a written statement.
The two vehicles that struck him and their drivers remained at large.
Ruiz was riding a bike in the right-hand lane when he was struck by an unknown vehicle, Olson said.
The initial impact was believed to be fatal, the officer said. No description of the vehicle that struck Ruiz was available.
Another driver stopped alongside Ruiz after spotting him lying in the roadway, Olson said. A white, late-2000s-model minivan then struck Ruiz and the stopped car before speeding away.
The driver of the stopped car was unhurt, CHP Officer Monica Posada said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles office at 323-980-4600.

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UPDATED: Three killed in firebombing of South El Monte tire shop


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Three people died and three suspects are being sought for a firebombing Saturday at a tire shop that also injured a firefighter responding to the blaze, authorities said.
The alleged attack took place about 5:30 a.m. at Cheque Tires, 1252 Santa Anita Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“We received a call from an informant that he saw three males throw a Molotov cocktail at a business,” Sgt. Jim Dexter said.
Deputies and firefighters found the building “fully engulfed” in flames, he said.
“Deputies and fire department personnel saw a man within the business compound and behind the heavily locked gates of the location, badly burned and trying to escape the fire,” according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
“Despite rescue personnel’s efforts to rescue the victim, he was overcome by flames and succumbed to his injuries,” she said.
EP-150429588As the investigation continued, officials discovered to additional bodies inside the charred business Saturday afternoon, Deputy Ryan Rouzan said. The two additional victims were initially described only as adults.
The deaths were being investigated as homicides.
A firefighter suffered second-degree burns to his face while battling the fire, Dexter said. The injury was not believed to be serious.
More than 65 firefighters worked for about 45 minutes to extinguish the flames, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Brian Jordan said.
They also rescued a dog from the property, which was turned over to animal control officials, he said.
The suspects were last seen fleeing south on Santa Anita Avenue from the scene of the fire in a white Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, sheriff’s officials said. No further suspect description was known.
The victim’s name was not released Saturday pending positive identification and notification of his family, Saldana said.
The motive in the fatal firebombing remained a mystery.
Santa Anita Avenue remained closed to traffic as sheriff’s and fire officials continued working at the scene Saturday afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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.

PHOTOS by James Carbone

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UPDATED: Man found fatally stabbed in South El Monte front yard; two people detained by SWAT team


SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man died after he was found stabbed in the neck in the front yard of a South El Monte home late Saturday, authorities said.
Deputies responded to the 11200 block of Broadmead Street about 11:30 p.m. after receiving word from Los Angeles County fire officials that a 42-year-old man had been found bleeding from a stab wound, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Long said.
Coroner’s officials had not yet identified the victim Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Fred Corrall said.
Paramedics rushed the man to a hospital, but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries, Long said.
“Detectives learned that evidence related to this incident was discovered in a residence in the 11200 Block of Broadmead Avenue,” Deputy Mike Barraza of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
A SWAT team was positioned in front of the involved home Sunday morning into the early afternoon.
0330_NWS_SGT-L-SEMSTAB2Deputies placed a handcuffed woman in the back seat of a patrol car and quickly drove away from the scene just after noon. A second person was also placed into a squad car and driven away from the scene.
Long confirmed the SWAT team had entered the home and detained two people. Their potential connections to the slaying were unclear.”
“At approximately 12 p.m., the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau assisted homicide detectives with the service of a search warrant in which several individuals were detained,” Barraza said. “Detectives are trying to ascertain what their involvement is, if any, regarding the earlier stabbing. “
No arrests had been made Sunday afternoon, and no further details were released, officials said.
Deputies shut down traffic on nearby Durfee Road as the SWAT team kept the home surrounded Sunday morning. Yellow crime scene tape cordoned off a city-block-long section of Broadmead Street.
Neighborhood residents watched over the commotion but said they did not know what had taken place, or who had been killed.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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UPDATED: Deputy shoots at suspect in South El Monte

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A deputy shot at, but did not strike, an auto theft suspect who officials said rammed a patrol car with a pickup truck Thursday afternoon.
Allan Sanchez, 22, of South El Monte was ultimately captured during a neighborhood, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said. He was expected to be booked on suspicion of auto theft and assault on a peace officer. Additional charges were possible as well.
The incident began about 4:10 p.m. at Garvey and Seaman avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Mackenzie said.
Deputies spotted a pickup truck parked along the roadside that had been reported stolen, the sergeant said.
Deputies approached the truck, with a driver later identified as Sanchez at the wheel, McBride said.
Sanchez accelerated, ramming a patrol car and at least one additional car, the lieutenant said. A deputy shot at Sanchez, striking the pickup truck but not the suspect.
McBride said the pickup truck sped away, leading officers on a very brief chase before crashing into a wall. He then exited the truck and ran.
The wanted man surrendered once deputies had him cornered. Mackenzie said.
He was taken to a hospital for examination before being booked into jail, McBride added.
The deputy in the patrol car allegedly rammed by the pickup truck suffered an apparently minor injury, he said. No other injuries were reported.

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Would-be robber in wheelchair pepper sprays man in South El Monte

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man in a wheelchair pepper sprayed another man during a failed robbery Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place just before 5 p.m. in the parking lot of Alberto’s Mexican Food, 2740 Rosemead Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. James Long said.
A Latino man in his 20s who was using a wheelchair approached the victim, a man in his 30s, and asked for money, Long said.
As the victim pulled money out of his pocket and counted it, the robber lunged for the cash and sprayed the victim with pepper spray, the sergeant said.
The victim managed to hang on to the money, he said. The robber fled empty-handed.
Long said the robber got into a Honda Civic, with the wheelchair, and drove off. A Latina woman was riding as a passenger.
The victim suffered no serious injuries, Long said.
It was not clear whether the would-be robber was genuinely disabled, or merely used the wheelchair as a ruse.

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UPDATED: Former South El Monte, Arcadia Catholic school music teacher accused of molesting student in 2003, 2004

Detectives suspect a former Catholic school music teacher and choir director of molesting a female student 12 years ago while working at a South El Monte Catholic school, officials said.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau jailed Elohim D’Leon, 43, of El Monte Thursday afternoon on suspicion of 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 years old, according to sheriff’s officials county booking records.
D’Leon, who more recently worked at Holy Angels school and parish in Arcadia from 2004 to 2013, is accused of committing the crimes in the 2003-04 school year while working as a music teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in South El Monte, Holy Angels school and sheriff’s officials said.
“The girl was a fifth grader. He was her music teacher,” Detective Michael Silva said.
“There was inappropriate touching that would occur after school,” Silva said. “These incidents would occur in a classroom.”
Silva said the victim, who is now an adult, first reported the crimes in early February, triggering an investigation.
D’Leon also served as the choir director for the Epiphany school and parish “and has had some involvement in other music activities in the Archdiocese over the years,” Holy Angels school Principal Ted Carroll and Holy Angels parish Pastor Michael Evans said in an email sent to parents
The suspect worked at Epiphany school and parish from 2001 to 2004.
In addition to D’Leon’s work at Epiphany and Holy Angels, he “provided music for some liturgies and regional events in the Archdiocese,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.
It was not clear how or why is employment with the Archdiocese ended in 2013.
“Law enforcement has advised that he has no prior criminal record and that they are not aware at this time of any misconduct with any other minors, but their investigation is ongoing,” the statement said. “The Archdiocese and Holy Angels continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation. We express our gratitude to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for making this case a priority.”
Holy Angels officials could not be reached for direct comment Saturday.
Holy Angels and sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information to contact Detective Silva at the Sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau at 877-710-5273. Archdiocese of Los Angeles Coordinator of Victims Assistance Ministry Suzanne Healy also is available at 213-637-7650.
“We also ask that you keep everyone impacted by this sad situation in your thoughts and prayers,” the emailed statement said.
D’Leon was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.

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Car crashes through South El Monte house; occupants flee

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A young man and woman fled Sunday after plowing a car through ha South El Monte house, officials said.
The crash occurred just after 5 p.m. in the 11200 block of Michael Hunt Drive, just east of Maxson Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The Honda smashed into and through the home, nearly exiting the other side, the lieutenant said.
“Luckily, it looks like it was unoccupied, possibly under renovation,” he said.
At least two occupants ran from the wrecked Honda, Somoano said. They were described as a man and woman in their 20s, both wearing leather jackets.
They hit-and-run suspects were last seen just west of the crash seen, running in the area of Michael Hunt Drive and Maxson Road, Somoano said.
Officials were looking into who owned the car as the search for the suspects continued.

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Man fatally struck by car on Rosemead Boulevard in South El Monte

SOUTH EL MONTE >> A man died late Saturday after he was struck by a car on Rosemead Boulevard in South El Monte, officials said.
The name of the man was not available Sunday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Ruiz said. He was estimated to be between 45 and 50 years old.
The driver of a sedan stopped and called 9-1-1 about 10:35 p.m. to report he had struck the man in the 2600 block of Rosemead Boulevard, near Fern Street, the sergeant said.
Paramedics pronounced the pedestrian dead at the scene.
Deputies received conflicting witness statements regarding the circumstances of the crash, which remained under investigation by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station, Ruiz said. No arrested or citations were made.
No further details were available.

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South El Monte couple, Los Angeles woman killed in San Diego County SUV crash

SAN DIEGO COUNTY >> A man and wife from South El Monte and a Los Angeles woman en route to a funeral in Mexicali died Friday in an SUV crash on the 15 Freeway in northern San Diego County, authorities said Saturday.
Driver Jerson Ariel Duron Valeriano, 25, of South El Monte; his wife Edith Duron, 22, also of South El Monte; and Ivette Garcia, 21, of Los Angeles, were fatally injured in the crash, according to the County of San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office.
Information provided by the CHP regarding the victims’ hometowns differed from that provided by the medical examiner’s office. CHP officials described Valeriano and Duron as Monrovia residents, and Garcia as a Santa Monica resident.
A 21-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman suffered injuries described as “minor to moderate” in the crash, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement. A 2-year-old girl apparently escaped injury, but was taken to a hospital for examination as a precaution.
The vehicle spun out and overturned at 12:19 p.m. Friday on the 15 Freeway near Gopher Canyon Road, officials said.
“Directly behind the vehicle was a San Diego County sheriff’s deputy who indicated that he observed the right rear tire tread of the Expedition start to fall off the vehicle,” according to the CHP statement. The vehicle then lost control into the center divide, hit the metal divider, then overturned before landing in the center divide of the northbound lanes.”
“The vehicle overturned and came to rest on its roof,” according to a statement issued by the medical examiner’s office.
Following the crash, medics took the SUV’s other passengers, a 2-year-old girl, the driver’s 21-year-old brother and a 43-year-old woman, to hospitals for treatment of apparently minor injuries, according to CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.
“Alcohol or drugs are not a suspected factor in this collision,” the CHP statement said.
The toddler involved in the crash is the daughter of Valeriano and Duron. Duron was the surviving woman’s daughter. The group was traveling to Mexico to attend a memorial service for the oldest woman’s father, CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt said.
The crash remained under investigation by the CHP’s Oceanside office.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

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