South Pasadena home destroyed by fire

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SOUTH PASADENA >> Firefighters responded about 4 a.m. to the fire at the single-story house in the 800 block of Kendall Avenue, South Pasadena Fire Department Capt. Chris Szenczi said.
The fire caused an estimated $600,000 worth of damage to the house and it’s contents, however no injuries were reported, the captain said.
Los Angeles firefighters who happened to be nearby arrived first at the scene, and were soon joined by their counterparts in the South Pasadena Fire Department, as well as other nearby fire departments, Scenczi said.
Firefighters extinguished the fire in slightly less than an hour.
The home was vacant following the recent death of resident, Scenczi said. The items inside had been boxed up in preparation to remove them from the home.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, however officials were looking into the possibility the fire was ignited by boxes left on top of a gas floor heater, Szenczi said.

PHOTOS by Rick McClure. GALLERY

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Police: South Pasadena suspicion person report leads to arrest of man with stolen items

SOUTH PASADENA — A report of a suspicious person in South Pasadena Friday led police to a theft suspect who was carrying stolen checks and credit cards, as well as a replica handgun, authorities said.
Officers used a Taser to subdue and arrest Domineke Ferguson, 23, of Alhambra, following the 1:40 p.m. incident that began in the 2000 block of Fletcher Avenue, near the Alhambra border, South Pasadena police Sgt. Matthew Ronnie said.
Officials took Ferguson to a hospital to be examined prior to booking him on suspicion of crimes expected to include receiving stolen property, Ronnie said. Ferguson also has outstanding arrest warrants, and additional charges were possible as well.
Ferguson knocked on the front door of a home, Ronnie said. A woman who lives there answered the door, and Ferguson told her he was looking for a friend named Mike before leaving.
The woman found the encounter suspicious and called police, Ronnie said. Police quickly arrived on scene and spotted a person matching the description given by the woman. The man ran when approached by police.
Officers chased down the man and ultimately used a Taser to take him into custody, the sergeant said.
Police found him in possession of checks and credit cards stolen believed to have been stolen from the area, as well as a replica handgun, Ronnie said. At least some of the items were taken in Alhambra.
The investigation was ongoing.

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South Pasadena police and fire open houses, car show, planned Sunday

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SOUTH PASADENA >> The South Pasadena police and fire departments are hosting an open house Sunday, alongside the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses car show , organizers said.
The open houses will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Pasadena Police Department, 1422 Mission Street, and the nearby South Pasadena Fire Department, 817 Mound Ave., city officials said in a written statement.
In addition to demonstrations and station tours, fire and police equipment will be on display and children’s fingerprinting will be offered.
“There will be a special area dedicated to emergency preparedness as the rear of the fire station,” according to the statement. Representatives from agencies ranging from the city level to the federal level will be on-hand providing information, along with officials from the Caltech Office of Seismology, who will be discussing earthquakes.
The open houses will coincide with the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Car Show, which will feature more than 300 classic cars.
For more information, contact the South Pasadena Police Department at 626-403-7270.

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Burglary suspects jailed after neighborhood search in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA >> Police jailed two residential burglary suspects Thursday following an extensive search of a South Pasadena neighborhood, authorities said.
Kenny Franklin, 22, of Lakewood and Michael Ward, 26, of Los Angeles were ultimately arrested following the failed break-in about 1 p.m. at a home in the 800 block of Rollins Street, South Pasadena police Sgt. Matt Petersen said.
A witness called police after hearing a neighbor’s security alarm sounding, then seeing two men running away from the home, the sergeant said.
The two suspects fled down a nearby pathway known as the Snake Trail before emerging on Flores De Oro, Petersen said. Franklin was immediately captured, but Ward continued to run.
With help from other nearby police agencies, South Pasadena police set up a search perimeter to seek the outstanding burglary suspect, Petersen said.
A police dog found and bit Ward about two hours later as he was hiding in a backyard shed in the 1300 block of Meridian Avenue, Petersen said. He was booked into jail after being treated for dog bite injuries.

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South Pasadena serial arsonist sentenced

A man began serving a six-year prison sentenced this week after he was convicted of 12 counts of arson for torching cars and brush near his South Pasadena home.
The five-month arson spree of Javier Adolfo Viera, 36, began in November of 2012 and ended with his arrest in April of 2013, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Frances Young of the DA’s Arson-Explosives Section said.
An Alhambra Superior Court jury convicted him Tuesday of one count of arson and was continuing to deliberate on the other 11 counts when Viera announced he would plead “no contest” to the remaining charges, Young said.
He was immediately sentenced to six years in state prison and ordered to register on a state database of arsonists.
The arson fires targeted six cars and six spots of brush in the general vicinity of the Arroyo Seco, Young said. He began lighting brush fires before graduating to vehicles.
Viera told investigators he lit the fires out of jealousy and frustration.
“He was not happy with the way his life turned out. He begrudged people their good fortunes,” the prosecutor said.
The cars scorched by the arsonist included a Mercedes-Benz, an Audi, a new Volkswagen, a Honda Hybrid, a Toyota Prius and a 1972 International Harvester Scout, Young said.
“They were all really nice cars,” she added.
The fires appeared to be growing increasingly more dangerous, with one lit only inches away from a 10-unit apartment building. The cars were torched while parked in residential neighborhoods.
Following his arrest after his final car fire in Los Angeles, Viera confessed to other arsons, South Pasadena police Sgt. Robert Bartl said at the time. He told police he never meant to hurt anyone and needed help.
The brush fires all remained small, largely due to vigilant neighbors who spotted and doused the fires with water bottles and garden hoses while they remained small, Young said.
The brush fires were lit with toilet paper and cotton balls, Bartl said.
When he switched to lighting car fires, he began using trash bags full of pine needles with he left beneath the cars’ gas tanks and set afire, police said.
Viera was initially charged with 18 counts of arson, though six of the counts were dismissed prior to trial, Young said.
Additionally, investigators were looking into him in connection with at least eight additional fires in South Pasadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles, though no charges have been filed in those cases.
Viera was ordered back to court for a restitution hearing Aug. 22, Young said. He was disputing the $109,000 in alleged damages the prosecutor said he owed the victim for the damage he caused.

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South Pasadena police to join in Click It or Ticket campaign this month

SOUTH PASADENA >> South Pasadena police will be joining with law enforcement agencies throughout the nation this month in a crackdown on seat belt safety known as the Click It or Ticket campaign.
Officers will be on the lookout for those who fail to use their seat belts Monday through June 1, South Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
“In a crash, they stand a 50 percent greater chance of being killed than those who have taken the two seconds to buckle in,” according to the police statement.
“Memorial Day weekend kicks off summer vacation season, and we want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound,” South Pasadena Police Officer Jeff Holland said. “If you are not wearing your seat belt, you will be ticketed.”
“Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest and best things you can do to protect yourself in the event of a car crash,” the officer added. “Taking a few moments to properly secure yourself and all your passengers before going on your way could mean the difference between life and death.”
Funding for the campaign is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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9-year-old boy, good Samaritan honored for helping to save choking 3-year-old in South Pasadena

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SOUTH PASADENA>> The South Pasadena Police Department Thursday recognized a 9-year-old boy who called 9-1-1 to help save his choking 3-year-old sister, as well as a good Samaritan and the first responders who also rushed to the aid of the choking child.
The frightening incident unfolded Sunday afternoon at the family’s home in the 1100 block of Pine Street, after the mother of 3-year-old Yalaena Santos noticed she was choking on a grape, South Pasadena police Sgt. Mike Neff said.
The panicked mother, Jennifer Santos, scooped up the child and rushed outside to find help, Neff said. She handed her 9-year-old son, Jaequon Santos, the phone and told him to call 9-1-1.
The boy told the dispatcher what was happening and provided the address, Neff said. “He did a great job.”
Meanwhile, Max Storer, a local man on his way to work at Starbucks noticed the mother and daughter in distress and stopped to help, Neff said. He performed CPR on the choking girl prior to the arrival of police and fire officials.
Police arrived at the scene in about one minute, but were unable to dislodge the grape lodged in the child’s throat, police officials said in a written statement. Firefighters arrived about two minutes later, but were also unable to extract the grape.
So firefighters blocked intersections as firefighters rushed the girl, still struggling to breathe, about three miles to Huntington Hospital in Arcadia, police said.
“In the emergency room, (Huntington Hospital) doctors and staff were able to successfully remove the obstruction and the victim was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit,” according to the police statement. “The victim has since fully recovered with no adverse outcome.”
South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller hosted a ceremony Thursday at South Pasadena City Hall to recognize those involved in saving the girl’s life, as well as give the family a chance to meet with the police and firefighters involved in the rescue.
Jaequon Santos and Storer were presented with certificates of appreciation, Neff said. The boy was also given a remote control police car, and his sister received a pink blanket.
“The good Samaritan trying to help, what a good guy,” Neff said.
As a result of the experience, Neff added that the mother had signed up to participate in a first-aid class at the South Pasadena Police Department, and encouraged other parents to do the same in case of a medical emergency.
First responders honored for their parts in the incident included South Pasadena police officers Darren Wong, Tom Jacobs and Louie Cetro, as well as South Pasadena police dispatchers Stephanie Barrientos and Catalina Valdez and South Pasadena Fire Department Capt. Eric Zanteson, paramedics Dan Dunn and Matt Robertson and engineers Mike Larkin and Rocky Bergstrom.

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21 drivers cited during South Pasadena crosswalk safety sting

SOUTH PASADENA — Police ticketed 21 drivers Friday during a pedestrian safety sting along Mission Street, officials said.
The operation was held from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at a crosswalk spanning Mission Street at Fairview Avenue, South Pasadena police Sgt. Tony Abdalla said.
A detective dressed in street clothes strolled across the street as fellow officers watched for driver’s who failed to stop and yield to the pedestrian, the sergeant said.
Police issues 18 citations for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, as well as three tickets for illegal cell phone use, Abdalla said. Another three drivers were warned but not cited.

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Teen attacked, robbed in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA — Police are seeking two masked men who attacked and robbed a teenager late Thursday, officials said.
An 18-year-old South Pasadena man was walking about 8 p.m. in the 500 block of Magnolia Street when he noticed a masked man in front of him and changed direction to avoid the suspicious person, South Pasadena police Detective Richard Lee said.
But the masked attacker ran up to the victim and began hitting him, Lee said. A second masked man approached, pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded his money.
The victim turned over about $20 and his cell phone, Sgt. Tony Abdalla said. But the picky robbers took only the cash and fled, leaving the cell phone behind.
Abdalla said the robbery victim declined to be taken to a hospital.
Police described one robber as male, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and 165 pounds. He wore an orange raincoat-style jacket with a dark hood, dark colored pants and a fabric mask over his face.
The second robber as about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 190 pounds. He wore all dark clothing with a hood over his head and a fabric mask over his face, and he carried a black, semi-automatic handgun.

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Man accused of stealing mail in South Pasadena

SOUTH PASADENA —0124_NWS_PSN-L-MAILTHEFT Police jailed a Pasadena man Wednesday on suspicion of stealing mail from at least a dozen South Pasadena residents over the past week, officials said.
Efrain DeSoto Jr., 24, was booked on suspicion of mail theft, receiving stolen property, possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license after he was pulled over by South Pasadena police about 3:55 p.m. at Hill Drive and Collis Avenue, Detective Richard Lee said in a written statement.
Officers noticed DeSoto and his 1994 Chevrolet Trailblazer matched the description given in connection with the theft of mail from several homes in the 1900 block of Alpha Avenue a week ago, Lee said. Police stopped him for a traffic violation and discovered he was driving on a suspended license.
In the center console of DeSoto’s SUV, police found methamphetamine, a glass smoking pipe and mail belonging to other people, the detective said.
“Additional mail — checks — and a bolt-cutter were found in the rear cargo area wrapped inside a shirt,” Lee said.
The mail was addressed to alleged victims throughout the San Gabriel Valley, police said.
Twelve apparent victims had been identified Thursday, Cpl. Matthew Ronnie said.
DeSoto admitted to police that he had just stolen mail before he was pulled over, Lee said. He also admitted stealing the mail last week.
According to county booking records, DeSoto was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

PHOTO of Efrain DeSoto Jr., 24, of Pasadena courtesy of the South Pasadena Police Department.

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