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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Woman charged with 8 L.A. County bank robberies; attributes robbery spree to recent slaying of sister

The sister of a recent Northern California homicide victim accused of robbing or attempting to rob eight banks — including ones in Arcadia, Temple City and Baldwin Park — was in federal custody Thursday awaiting trial, officials said.
Obiomachuckuka Njokanma, 36, of Michigan, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of bank robbery in connection with the alleged spree, which took place between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, according to FBI officials and court documents.
Officials said Njokanma also admitted being responsible for a Dec. 27 Modesto bank robbery for which she has not yet been charged.
Her alleged San Gabriel Valley crimes include a Jan. 4 robbery at the Foothill Federal Credit Union, 30 S. First Ave. in Arcadia; a failed Jan. 10 robbery at a Wells Fargo, 11460 Merced Ave. in Baldwin Park; and a Jan. 10 robbery at a Bank of the West, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive in Temple City.
She was arrested Jan. 14 by by Los Angeles police, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
According to the indictment, “Njokanma repeatedly apologized for committing the bank robberies. She explained that her sister was recently discovered murdered in Modesto, California. She admitted that the very first bank she robbed was in Modesto.”
A search of public records shows that Njokanma is a relative of Eldoris Graham, 28, of Modesto, who was found slain in her hometown Jan. 11.
Graham’s boyfriend, 36-year-old Anthony Coxum, was not cooperating with investigators and gave inconsistent statements to detectives, but was not initially arrested in connection with the killing, Modesto police officials said in a written statement.
Coxum was being held on suspicion of unrelated probation violations in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the investigation continued, Modesto police added. He was driving Graham’s car when arrested.
Graham was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 15, and her body was found Jan. 11, officials said.
FBI investigators had been referring to the serial robber as the “60 Second Bandit” due to statements she made during the robberies indicating she wanted to get the money and be gone within 60 seconds, Eimiller said. But officials had not yet gone public with the moniker.
During the robberies, Njokanma handed tellers notes threatening to shoot them or others in the bank if they didn’t quickly hand over large-denomination bills, according to court documents. She would often wear a baseball cap or a wig.
In all, the eight robberies Njokanma is charged with allegedly netted her $20,001.
In addition to the three San Gabriel Valley crimes, robberies linked to Njokanma also include a Dec. 28 robbery at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists-Screen Actors Guild Credit Union in Burbank; a Dec. 31 heist at a U.S. Bank in Bell; a failed Jan. 8 robbery at a Wells Fargo branch at 3800 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles; a Jan. 9 robbery at the First Financial Credit Union, 5115 Wilshire Ave. in Los Angeles; and a Jan. 12 robbery at a Citibank, 270 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.

BANK SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS of Baldwin Park attempted robbery (above) and Temple City robbery (below) courtesy of the FBI.

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UPDATED: Woman sought for bank robberies in Baldwin Park, Temple City

Authorities sought a woman Thursday who carried out an attempted bank robbery in Baldwin Park Thursday, followed by a successful one in Temple City about an hour later.
Both crimes involved strikingly similar suspect descriptions and tactics, and were believed to be the work of the same female robber, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The first crime took place just before 10 a.m. at Wells Fargo, 14460 Merced Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mark Harvey said.
A female robber entered the bank and handed a teller a threatening note which demanded money and alluded to a weapon, the sergeant said. No weapon was seen.
“Something spooked her and she ran out of the bank before obtaining any funds,” Harvey said.
She was last seen running through a parking lot.
Police described her as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, a black shirt and jeans.
Just over an hour later, another bank robbery was reported in Temple City, where the robber did obtain an unknown amount of cash in the heist, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The Temple City robbery took place about 11:08 a.m. at the Bank of the West, 9934 Los Tunas Drive, the lieutenant said.
Again, the robber was described as a black woman wearing a high school-style jacket with a letter “H” on it, officials said. She was further described as about 30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 200 pounds.
Eimiller said witnesses also indicated the woman’s hair appeared unusually shiny, as if she was wearing a wig.
Somoano said the robber was last seen fleeing the area in a red car. A further description of the vehicle was unavailable.
The FBI was assisting Baldwin Park police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the investigations.
FBI agents were looking into the possibility the woman is responsible for other area bank robberies.

SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS from Baldwin Park attempted bank robbery (top) and Temple City Bank robbery (bottom) courtesy of the FBI.

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UPDATED: Deputies arrest fleeing parole-at-large

TEMPLE CITY — Deputies cordoned off a neighborhood Thursday as they searched for a wanted and possibly armed parolee who fled from them, officials said.
The incident began about 1 p.m. when a deputy spotted a parolee who had absconded from his parole supervision on Loma Avenue, just south of Olive Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
Upon seeing the deputy approaching, the parolee drove into a dead end at the end of Loma Avenue, exited the vehicle and ran, Somoano said. A woman who was a passenger in the car was being detained and questioned.
Nearby school were not in session, so no children were present, the lieutenant said. Employees of the schools were advised to stay in doors while the search continued Thursday afternoon with the help of a sheriff’s helicopter and dogs.
The suspect slipped through the search perimeter, but was found in El Monte through further investigation. His name was not immediately available pending booking.

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School placed on lockdown after auto theft suspect flees from deputies in Temple City

TEMPLE CITY — Officials cordoned off a neighborhood and placed a school on lockdown Thursday morning as they hunted for an auto theft suspect.
The incident began about 8 a.m. when deputies spotted a stolen truck near an apartment complex in the 5300 block of Rosemead Boulevard, near Broadway, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said. The driver exited the truck and ran.
Deputies set up a search perimeter of about two blocks in the area southwest of Rosemead Boulevard and Broadway, the lieutenant said.
Nearby San Gabriel Academy, just across the city border in an unincorporated county area near San Gabriel, was placed on lockdown as a precaution, he added.
The suspects was described as a Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing a blue sweater, black short and a blue bandana on his head.

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Man jailed, another sought in connection with failed carjacking near Temple City

Deputies arrested one man and sought another in connection with a bungled carjacking along Rosemead Boulevard late Wednesday in an unincorporated county area just north of Temple City , authorities said.
Angel Zuniga, a 25-year-old known San Gabriel Valley gang member and Hesperia resident, was booked on suspicion of attempted carjacking following the failed crime, reported shortly before 11 p.m. in the 6400 block of Rosemead Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Samoano said.
A second would-be carjacker, described as a white man in his early-20s, wearing a blue and white jersey and blue jeans, remained at large early Thursday, the lieutenant said.
The victim, a man in his early 20s, was sitting in his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck when he was approached by two men, Samoano said.
They demanded the victim’s car keys while one of them — later identified as Zuniga — displayed a handgun that was tucked into his waistband, he said.
Samoano said the startled victim got out of his truck and walked away, leaving his keys behind inside the car and telling the men to take what they wanted.
The would-be carjackers got into the truck, but were unable to find the keys, which were inside the passenger compartment but not in the ignition, according to the lieutenant. The frustrated suspects then fled empty-handed.
Deputies responding to a report of a suspicious person about two hours later and three blocks away detained Zuniga and recognized his description from the attempted carjacking, Samoano said. He was subsequently identified by the victim as the gunman in the failed crime.
The second suspect, as well as the handgun involved in the alleged crime, had not been found Thursday.
According to county booking records, Zuniga was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Alhambra Superior Court.
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