Detectives return to Santa Barbara County park in search of missing South Pasadena boy

Investigators from all over Southern California descended on the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area in Santa Barbara County Saturday to continue their search for signs of a 5-year-old South Pasadena boy who vanished under suspicious circumstances in late April.
Aramazd Andressian Jr. was reported missing April 22 after his father failed to bring him to a scheduled custody exchange, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. His father, Aramazd Andressian Sr., was found unconscious earlier the same day near his car, which was parked at the Arroyo Seco Park in South Pasadena. His car was doused in gasoline and there was a rag sticking out of the gas tank. The father told investigators he had taken prescription pills belonging to someone else and had no idea what happened to his son.
The father and son were last seen together at Disneyland on April 21, officials said. Witnesses also reported seeing the boy and his father on April 21 at the Lake Cachuma Recreation Area, as well as near Solvang and Nojoqui Falls.
Authorities have already made repeated searches of the parks in South Pasadena and Santa Barbara County without results.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were joined in Saturday’s search by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the South Pasadena Police Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and law enforcement agencies from through the San Gabriel Valley, Deputy Don Walker of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Search and rescue teams and search dogs were brought in from throughout the region to help.
But at the conclusion of Saturday’s search on Friday, no signs of the boy had been found, officials said.
“This search was coordinated and executed in hopes of locating any new evidence in the case,” Deputy Sara Rodriguez said in a written statement. “During the search, investigators located possible areas of interest and will resume the search in the future.”
Saturday’s search covered roughly 30 miles of road between Nojoquu Falls, Solvang and Lake Cachuma, Rodriguez said.
“Homicide investigators would like to thank the more 235 personnel who rejoined to the search,” she added.
In the weeks since the boy disappeared, family members and volunteers have canvassed the region and handed out fliers, and detectives have served search warrants at the homes of both Andressian Sr.’s South Pasadena home, and the home of the boy’s paternal grandmother in Montebello.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has offered a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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FBI seeks ‘Dual Valley Bandit’ in string of bank robberies from Woodland Hills to South Pasadena

LOS ANGELES >> The FBI is seeking a serial bank robber they’ve dubbed “The Dual Valley Bandit” in connection with five robberies in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys in recent weeks.
The bandit, who earned his moniker due to he geography of his heists, is believed to be responsible for two bank robberies in Burbank and South Pasadena on May 15, and three more in North Hollywood, Woodland Hills and Tarzana on May 27, according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
“During the robberies, the suspect passes a note demanding cash in several denominations and makes oral demands for cash as well,” Eimiller said in a written statement.
No weapon has been seen during the crimes, officials said.
The Dual Valley Bandit is described as a white man, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, 170 to 180 pounds.
He had stubble during the robberies and was neatly dressed in casual clothing, including a baseball cap and Wayfarer-style sunglasses.
Anyone with information is urged to avoid direct contact with him and call 911 or the FBI’s 24-hour Los Angeles hotline at 888-226-8443. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS courtesy of the FBI

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UPDATE: Woman found safe in South Pasadena after going missing in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA >> Police found a woman safe in South Pasadena after went missing in Alhambra on Tuesday night.
Wei Li, 71, was last seen about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 100 block of North Third Street, Alhambra police officials said in a written statement.
“Li does not have a cellular phone and does not speak English,” according to the statement.
She’s described as Asian, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 138 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
But she was found safe in South Pasadena on Wednesday afternoon and reunited with her family, police said.

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Mystery chemical odor prompts evacuation at South Pasadena adult school

SOUTH PASADENA >> A mysterious odor possibly linked to nearby sewer work prompted the evacuation of an adult school facility in South Pasadena on Wednesday after nine people reported feeling ill, authorities said.
People first reported the odor just before noon at the Almansor Transition and Adult Services/Employment Services, 211 Pasadena Ave., Verdugo Cities Fire Command Chief Mario Rueda said.
“Several people reported nausea. That triggered our response for a hazardous materials incident,” he said.
Nine people at the adult school who reported feeling sick were examined, according to the chief. Most of the patients soon reported feeling better, but two continued feeling nauseous and were taken to a hospital.
Firefighters from South Pasadena and several nearby cities thoroughly inspected the building and found no signs of anything dangerous, Rueda said.
The source of the odor, which witnesses described as reminiscent of some kind of cleaning agent, was not found, he said. But officials suspected it may have been related to some sewer work being done about a block away.
Fire officials ventilated the building and declared it safe to reenter a little over an hour after the incident began, Rueda said.

PHOTO by Walt Mancini

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Bandit sought in bank robberies in South Pasadena, Burbank

Police and federal agents are hunting for a man who robbed banks in South Pasadena and Burbank on Wednesday afternoon.
The bandit first carried out a heist in Burbank about 4:20 p.m. before turning up at another bank branch 15 miles away in south Pasadena 45 minutes later, according to Burbank and South Pasadena police officials.
In both crimes, the robber handed tellers notes demanding cash, officials said. No weapons were seen during the robberies.
The first crime occurred at the U.S. Bank, 1750 W. Olive Ave., Burbank police Sgt. Derek Green said in a written statement.
“He approached a bank teller and passed a note demanding cash, threatening to harm people inside the bank if his demands were not met,” Green said. “Fearing for his safety and the safety of others, the bank teller provided the suspect with the money.”
Police said the robber was believed to have fled the area in a black Ford Flex with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The bandit then showed up shortly after 5 p.m. at a Wells Fargo branch, 1000 Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena.
Again, the robber handed a teller a note demanding cash, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
The female teller handed over several thousand dollars, and the robber was last seen exiting the bank.
Police described the serial robbers a man, possibly of Armenian descent, of about 5 feet 10 inches tall and 200 pounds. He wore a white long-sleeve shirt, a gray baseball cap with a white stripe along the brim and aviator-style sunglasses. He had a short beard and mustache.
The Ford Flex seen in connection with the Burbank robbery was black, with a silver top, a moonroof and aluminum paneling on the sides.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Burbank police detectives at 818-238-3210 or South Pasadena police at 626-403-7270. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Burbank Police Department.

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South Pasadena burglary suspects arrested following crash in Alhambra

SOUTH PASADENA >> Police arrested two South Pasadena burglary suspects after they crashed their getaway car in Alhambra on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The incident began about 3:15 p.m. when a witness called police to reports a break-in at a home in the 1000 block of Milan Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
Responding officers caught sight of a vehicle matching the suspect description driving away from the area, he said. As officers attempted to catch up with the car, but before they tried to pull it over, the car crashed into another car at Fremont Avenue and Mission Road in Alhambra, the sergeant said.
Both suspect were arrested at the crash scene, he said. One complained of pain and was examined at a hospital prior to booking.
A man at the wheel of the car the fleeing suspects struck was unhurt, Louie added.
The suspects’ identities were not available pending the booking process.

PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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Man and woman from Bakersfield accused of San Gabriel Valley mail, ID theft spree


SOUTH PASADENA >> Police in South Pasadena arrested a man and woman from Bakersfield on suspicion of stealing packages, mail, credit cards and other items on Wednesday.
Corey Ryan Bihm, 26, and Lauren Helstrom, 29, were booked on suspicion of residential burglary, grand theft, conspiracy and identity theft, according to South Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police were first summoned to a Vons market at 1129 Fair Oaks Avenue about 5:30 p.m. for a report of shoplifting, South Pasadena police Cpl. Craig Phillips said in a written statement.
“During the shoplifting investigation, officers found dozens of Amazon packages not addressed to either subject inside the vehicle,” Phillips said. Police soon confirmed the packages, valued at $2,700, has been stolen from the front porch of a home in Arcadia.
The suspects’ rental moving van was littered with “bags full of mail,” as well as dozens of stolen credit cards and many items with price tags still attached, according to Phillips. Police determined some of the mail had been stolen in South Pasadena and Arcadia.
Officers also recovered methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia from the suspects, he said. The moving van used by the suspects was later determined to have been stolen.
According to booking records, Bihm was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance. Booking information for Helstrom was not available Thursday afternoon.

PHOTOS courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department

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UPDATED: Social media threat prompts lockdown at South Pasadena High School; student detained


SOUTH PASADENA >> Authorities placed South Pasadena High School on lockdown Friday while they investigated a shooting threat posted on social media, police said.
A student saw an image on the photo and video-sharing app Snapchat threatening gun violence at the high school, 1401 Fremont Ave.
The student reported the threats to officials shortly after the school day began, South Pasadena police Sgt. Spencer Louie said.
“The suspect was identified as a 17-year-old male student,” police said in a written statement. “As a precaution, the school was placed on a modified lockdown and officers were posted at the school.”
“Officers responded to his residence to locate him, but were unsuccessful,” according to the statement. “Additional information was obtained as to the suspect’s whereabouts and he was eventually contacted by phone.”
The teen went to the police station, where he was taken into custody later in the morning, officials said.
The lockdown had been lifted and the campus had resumed normal operations by noon.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Pasadena police detectives at 626-403-7280.

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Caught on camera: Porch pirate pilfers package from South Pasadena home

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Police are seeking man who was caught on camera stealing a large package, which contained a trampoline, from the fron porch of a South Pasadena home on Wednesday.
The theft took place just before 12:10 p.m. at a home in the 1400 block of Milan Avenue, South Pasadena police Detective Richard Lee said in a written statement.
A man wearing a utility vest arrived at the home in a silver, four-door sedan and parked in the victim’s driveway, Lee said.
Home surveillance cameras rolled as the thief walked up to the victim’s porch and draged away a large package, which contained a trampoline, Lee said. He then loaded it into his car and drove off.
Police described the package thief as a Latino man between 30 and 35 years old, with brown hair and brown mustache. He wore a yellow utility vest, a black shirt, blue jeans and black-and-white Converse sneakers.
Anyone with information is asked to contact South Pasadena police detectives at 626-403-7280. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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PHOTOS courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department

 

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UPDATED: Suspect wounded in South Pasadena police shooting, arrested following standoff

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Police shot and wounded a suspect in the middle of a home burglary as two women who lived in the house hid in an upstairs bathroom early Saturday, authorities said.
The incident began about 4:25 a.m. when a 48-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter realized there was an intruder in their house in the 1300 block of Huntington Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Upon seeing the suspect, the women fled to the upstairs bathroom where they barricaded themselves from the approaching suspect,” according to the statement. “The suspect attempted to break through the bathroom door in an attempt to gain entry. When his attempts failed, the suspect proceeded to ransack the bottom level of the residence. The mother called 9-1-1.”
Officers rushed to the home and made their way inside, officials said.
“As the officers walked up the stairs towards the second floor, they were confronted by the suspect,” the statement said. “It was at this time that an officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect then fled from the officers towards a bedroom where he proceeded to barricade himself.”
It was unclear what prompted police to open fire on the suspect, or whether he was armed at the time.
Police cordoned off the home and used a ladder to rescue the women through the window of the bathroom in which they’d been hiding.
A sheriff’s SWAT team responded to deal with the barricaded suspect. Officials from the sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau announced the suspect was in custody about 7 a.m.
“While in custody, it was discovered that the suspect had been struck in the shoulder by gunfire,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
The 48-year-old suspect was treated at hospital before being booked on suspicion of burglary. His name was not released Sunday.
South Pasadena police deferred comment to sheriff’s officials, who traditionally investigate officer-involved shootings involving Los Angeles County police agencies.
The residents of the home were unharmed, and no police officials were injured during the incident, sheriff’s officials said.

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PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau

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