UPDATED: Bomb threat prompts cancellation of classes at Temple City High School

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***UPDATE – Deputies arrested a 17-year-old Temple City High School junior late Friday afternoon in connection with the bomb threats against Temple City High School and Longden Elementary School on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

TEMPLE CITY — A phoned-in bomb threat prompted the cancellation of classes at Temple City High School early Friday in the third such incident in the city in three days, officials said. A search of the campus yielded nothing suspicious.
Only a handful of school employees were on campus when the phone call was placed via 9-1-1 about 6:40 a.m., prior to the start of the school day, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Gil said.
“Luckily, the students weren’t there,” Gil said.
Classes were cancelled for the day as deputies embarked on a search of the campus, 9501 Lemon Avenue, sheriff’s officials said.
Deputies, some carrying rifles, brought bomb-sniffing dogs to the campus to help with a search. Streets surrounding the high school were shut down for about three hours as the investigation and campus search continued.
Deputies concluded their search and announced nothing troublesome had been found about 9:50 a.m., Lt. Loy McBride said.
The call, initially believed to have come from a cell phone, was made with a male voice, Gil said. He described it as similar to two others received by authorities in Temple City on Thursday morning and Wednesday night.
Sheriff’s officials said it was too early to say for certain whether the threats were connected or placed by the same person, however detectives were looking into the possibility of a connection.
The caller stated that three bombs had been placed on the Temple City High School campus, McBride said.
McBride declined to discuss the specifics of the ongoing investigation or the efforts to track down the caller.
“We’ve working on some possible leads,” he said.
Authorities Wednesday evacuated nearby Longden Elementary School just before the start of the school day after a bomb threat was phoned in to both the school and 9-1-1 shortly before 8 a.m., Sgt. Michael Martinez said.
Between 300 and 400 students who had already arrived at the campus were evacuated to a nearby Middle School as deputies searched the campus, ultimately finding nothing suspicious.
In that case, a male caller stated in the threats that two bombs had been placed on the elemtary school campus, Martinez said.
Deputies responded to another bomb threat at Temple City High School about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Martinez said. The school, which was closed and vacant at the time, was searched by deputies. Nothing out of the ordinary was discovered.
Friday’s call was received via 9-1-1 at the sheriff’s Temple Station, which generally indicated the call was placed from within the station’s jurisdiction, though there are exceptions, Gil said.
The series of bomb threats comes on the heels of another series of six calls threatening shootings at hospitals, schools and a mall in the San Gabriel Valley. Gerardo Cortez, 26, of Monrovia, was arrested Sept. 17 by a multi-agency task force in connection with the string of threats, which took place between Sept. 9 and 12.
Cortez was previously convicted and served eight months of a 16-month jail sentence for making a false bomb threats in connection with a series of bomb threats in Pasadena in October of last year. After taking a plea deal and receiving sentencing under A.B. 109 guidelines, Cortez was released from jail in late June. He remained behind bars Friday in lieu of $300,000 bail pending an Oct. 4 arraignment in West Covina Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Longden Elementary School in Temple City evacuated due to bomb threat

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TEMPLE CITY — The second bomb threat in two days at a Temple City school prompted a campus evacuation and search, though nothing suspicious was ultimately found, authorities said.
A caller phoned in a bomb threat to Longden Elementary School just before the school day began Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Martinez said.
The threatening phone came less than 10 hours after another call Tuesday night claiming bombs had been placed at Temple City High School, the sergeant said. Deputies searched the empty high school campus after receiving the threatening phone call and found nothing out of the ordinary.
It was too early to say whether the incidents were related, however investigators were looking into the possibility, Martinez said.
“We couldn’t really tell by the voices,” he said.
In Wednesdays incident at Longden Elementary School, a caller with a male voice called both the school and 9-1-1, which was answered by the California Highway Patrol, Martinez said. The caller claimed there were two bombs on the campus.
It was not clear where the call had been placed from.
In very brief statement, Martinez said, the caller stated that there were two bombs on the campus of the elementary school, 9501 E. Wendon Street.
“The students were evacuated to a safe area,” Temple City Unified School District spokeswoman Lynn Burkhardt said.
Deputies, with help from explosives-sniffing dogs, searched the campus.
Deputies completed their campus search but found nothing of concern and sounded the all-clear shortly before 10:45 a.m.
The threatening phone calls were made just before the start of the school day, Burkhardt said. Classes were cancelled.
Students who had not yet arrived when the incident began were turned around when they showed up, she said.
Between 300 and 400 of Longden’s 1,000 or so students were already on-campus, however, TCUSD Chief Business Officials David Jaynes said. They were walked to nearby Oak Avenue Intermediate School to be picked up by their guardians.
Longden Elementary parents were notified parents via an automated phone message, Jaynes added.
Wednesday was a scheduled shortened school day at Longden, and students were due to be released at 1 p.m.
All but a handful had been picked up from Oak Avenue Intermediate School by noon.
The Longden Elementary School bomb threat came on the heels of another bomb threat phoned in to Temple City High School late Tuesday.
In that case, a caller — also described as male — claimed about 10:30 p.m. that bombs had been placed on the high school campus, Martinez said. The school was unoccupied and locked up.
“The school was opened for us, and we did go in and check the interior,” Martinez said. Nothing unusual was found, however teachers were advised to look over their classrooms at the beginning of the day Wednesday and check for anything out of the ordinary.
And the region has had more than its share telephone threats in recent weeks.
A multi-agency task force arrested a 26-year-old Monrovia man with a prior history of making threatening phone calls in connection with a series of six calls threatening shootings at schools, hospitals and a mall throughout the San Gabriel Valley Sept. 9 through Sept. 12.
Gerardo Cortez has since been charged with six felony counts of making criminal threats and one count of falsely reporting an emergency, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. He’s scheduled to appear for arraignment Oct. 4 in West Covina Superior Court.
In April, Cortez pleaded “no contest” to a single count of making a false bomb report in connection with another series of threats. He had originally been charged with three additional counts, which were dismissed under the plea agreement, officials said.
Cortez was initially arrested in October on suspicion of making bomb threats against a post office, a health department building and a school in Pasadena.
He was sentenced under AB 109 guidelines and served eight months of 16-month jail sentence before being released in late June, according to district attorney’s officials and county booking records.

STAFF photo by Leo Jarzomb

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Woman jumps into out-of-control SUV in Temple City; driver suffering from medical emergency dies at hospital

TEMPLE CITY — A woman jumped into the moving vehicle of a man who was having a medical emergency and brought the car to a stop Friday, authorities said.
Despite the valiant efforts of the woman who stopped the man’s out-of-control Honda CRV, as well as a passing bus driver who performed CPR on the unconscious driver, the 53-year-old man ultimately died at a nearby hospital, Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said.
Officials withheld the name of the dead man pending positive identification and confirmation that his family had been notified, coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The incident unfolded about 5:40 p.m. at Rosemead Boulevard and Lower Azusa Road, Capt. Christopher Nee of the sheriff’s Temple Station said.
The CRV driver was stopped at a red light on northbound Rosemead at Lower Azusa, the captain said.
“He had some kind of medical incident and passed out at the wheel,” he said, adding that it was not immediately clear exactly what type of medical problem the man experienced.
A woman who was also stopped at the intersection noticed the man was in distress and saw his car begin moving forward on its own as the driver lost consciousness, Nee said.
“She jumped out of her car. She jumped into his car and kept control,” the captain said. “She got it off to the side of the road.”
Once the car was stopped, a man who was driving a passing privately chartered tour bus noticed the commotion and came over to help, Nee said. He performed CPR on the unconscious driver until paramedics arrived.
Rescuers rushed the man to San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about 6:30 p.m., Dietz said.
Nee commended the good Samaritans on their “true, unselfish acts.” Their names were not available Saturday.
Though the man they were trying to save did not make it, the woman who took control of the runaway SUV undoubtedly prevented further danger, Nee said. The roadway ahead of where the car was stopped inclines downward, and the car could have picked up speed before potentially causing a dangerous crash.
“Had she not intervened, the car definitely would have moved a quarter mile more,” Nee said.
The captain said he was looking into having the good Samaritans formally recognized by the city for their actions.

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‘Foothill Bandit’ strikes again, this time in Temple City

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TEMPLE CITY — A serial bank robber known to the FBI as the “Foothills Bandit” tried, but failed, to rob a bank Thursday in his third crime in the past two weeks, authorities said.
The robber, who already robbed a Glendora Union Bank branch May 28 and tried unsuccessfully to rob a Citibank branch in Arcadia Monday, showed up about 11:10 a.m. at Wells Fargo, 9635 Las Tunas Drive in Temple City, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Like in his previous crimes, the robber claimed to have explosives as he demanded money from a teller, Sgt. Ben Sahile said.
Unlike the previous crimes, however, the robber did not bring a device into the bank with him, officials said.
“He claimed he had a bomb in the car,” Sahile said.
The manager then emerged, and the would-be robber fled empty-handed, he said.
The FBI has described the “Foothills Bandit,” who earned his name because of the proximity of his crimes to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, has been described by the FBI as white, between 23 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 155 pounds.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the FBI in Los Angeles at 310-477-6565.

PHOTO (taken from surveillance camera during June 3 attempted bank robbery in Arcadia) courtesy of the FBI.

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Officials: Store owner fights off, captures would-be robber in Temple City

TEMPLE CITY — A liquor store owner struggled with a robber dressed in black over a gun then detained the culprit for deputies Tuesday, officials said.Sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said the suspect’s weapon turned out to be a replica handgun.Henry Vincent Ceballos, 44, was booked on suspicion of robbery, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records. His city of residence was not available.The botched robbery took place at 4:51 p.m. in the 9100 block of Las Tunas Drive.McBride said a man wearing all black clothing entered the liquor store and demanded money.“The owner fought with the suspect over the gun. He held the suspect down until we got there,” the lieutenant said.According to Nakry Meas, it was the first time he was robbed and the first time he struggled with a robber.“I got my family inside,” he said.He didn’t know if the gun was real but he decided to fight back. The suspect hit him in the face, Meas said.Somehow the suspect fell.“After he fell down, I stayed on top of him. … My body was heavier than him,” Meas said.Deputies arrived and took Ceballos into custody, officials said.According to booking records, he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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Suspect arrested after Tempe City stand-off

TEMPLE CITY – A man surrendered to El Monte police Thursday after spending several hours holed up inside a Temple City home, authorities said.
Juan Gonzalez, 37, of Temple City was arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse an assault with a deadly weapon, according to El Monte police Sgt. Roger Cobian.
The incident began around 9 a.m. When El Monte police officers went to the 9500 block of Woodruff Avenue in search of the domestic violence suspect, Cobian said.
Gonzalez went inside a home and refused to come out, prompting a stand-off that continued for about three hours, Cobian said.
A SWAT team was summoned to the scene, and Gonzalez ultimately surrendered without a struggle.
Further details of the alleged domestic violence, which took place late Wednesday in El Monte, were not available Thursday afternoon, police said.

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Officials seek missing 74-year-old Temple City man

TEMPLE CITY — Detectives are asking members of the public to keep a lookout for a 74-year-old Temple City man with Alzheimer’s and diabetes who went missing earlier this week.
Peter Yan Sheng Lieu was last seen about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday at his home in the 5000 block of Pal Mal Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“He walked away from his home in an unknown direction and has not been heard from since,” the statement said.
He’s described as Asian, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 140 pounds, with partial upper dentures. He was last seen wearing a light green jacket, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Missing Person Detail at 323-890-5500.

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Detectives continue seeking clues in retired school teacher’s slaying in Temple City

Detectives continue seeking the public’s help in the mysterious slaying of a retired school teacher found dead inside her Temple City home on Easter Sunday.
Carmen Garcia, 65, was discovered Sunday morning by her daughter, who had become worried about her after being unable to reach her for several days, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Though initially believed to have been shot to death, an autopsy performed on the body of Carmen Garcia, 65, determined that was not the case, Sgt. Ken Clark of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“She was actually not shot,” he said. But due to the ongoing investigation, he declined to say how she did die, adding that that fact may be known only to the killer. “I can’t tell you the manner of death, but she was not shot.”
Coroner’s officials declined to discuss the case due to a security hold placed on it by sheriff’s homicide detectives, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
There was no obvious motive for someone to kill the “very well-liked” woman, Clark said.
“I’ve been working homicides for more than 15 years. This case troubles me. It really does,” he said.
Detectives Thursday continued pouring over evidence collected from the crime scene and searching for those who could provide a useful piece of information, Clark said.
“We are definitely going to need the public’s help,” the sergeant said. “We’re looking for anyone in the community that saw something unusual, however so slight.”
Though Garcia’s body was discovered shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday, Clark said it has likely been there for at least one day. Coroner’s investigators were working to determine a more specific time of death.
There were no signs of forced entry to the home in the normally quiet neighborhood, Clark said.
“It’s unknown if items were missing,” he said. “We believe they were.”
“It appears to me that the person responsible may have spend some time in the house,” Clark added.
Garcia, a longtime Temple City resident, retired at the end of the 2011 school year from Independence and Century high schools in Alhambra, where she worked with at-risk students. The campuses were devastated by news of her killing, school officials said.
She was looking forward to spending her retirement with her husband of more than four decades, Arturo, friends said. But he died late last year.
“She was known in the neighborhood,” Clark said. “She’d take daily walks. She was upbeat.”
Anyone with information was asked to contact Sgt. Clark or Detective John Fredendall of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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65-year-old woman fatally shot in Temple City

TEMPLE CITY — A 65-year-old woman was found shot to death Sunday in a residential neighborhood, authorities said.
The woman was found shot and pronounced dead shortly before 9 a.m. in the 10300 block of Key West Street, Sgt. Rich Pena of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
No suspect was in custody in connection with the death investigation, Deputy Mark Pope added.
Sheriff’s officials declined to release any further information.
Her name was not available late Sunday, coroner’s officials said..

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Car strikes house in Temple City, again

TEMPLE CITY — A two-car crash Saturday sent one of the involved vehicles crashing into a house along Live Oak Avenue, but resulted in no significant injuries, authorities said.
The crash took place shortly before 1:30 p.m. at Live Oak and Alessandro Avenue.
Prior to the collision, a Toyota Camry was westbound on Live Oak, and a blue 4-door sedan was heading north on Alessandro, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Loy McBride said.
The blue sedan, “failed to yield at the stop sign,” the lieutenant said.
It collided with the Toyota, sending it careening into a corner house, according to McBride.
A woman driving the Toyota was treated for apparently minor injuries, he said. The other driver and two people who were inside the house were unhurt.
The crash remained under investigation, however driving under the influence was not initially suspected, McBride said.
It was the second time this week a car slammed into a Temple City home.
A two-vehicle crash late Tuesday sent a Honda Civic into the side of a home in the 9400 block of Olive Street, sheriff’s and fire officials said.
Driving under the influence was believed to have played a role in Tuesday’s crash, officials added. No significant injuries were reported.

Staff photo by Steve Scauzillo

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