WEST VALINDA >> Coroner officials Saturday identified a 17-year-old West Covina boy who was shot to death in West Valinda Friday.
Erik Sainz died in the 11:40 p.m. shooting at Amar Road and Millbury Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
He was standing with acquaintances in the driveway of a home when two attackers approached on foot, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
One of the assailants pulled a handgun and opened fire, striking Sainz several times in the “upper torso,” Deputy Ruan Rouzan said in a written statement.
The killers fled the area in a blue or green vehicle, officials added. No further suspect description was available.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
WEST VALINDA >> A 17-year-old boy died Friday following a daytime shooting in a residential West Valinda neighborhood, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 11:40 a.m. at Amar Road and Millbury Avenue, in an unincorporated county area just north of La Puente, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Detectives have learned that the 17-year-old victim was standing in the driveway of a residence with several acquaintances when two suspects approached them on foot,” Deputy Ruan Rouzan of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “One of the suspects shot the victim in the upper torso with a handgun.”
The victim died at the scene of the shooting.
“The suspects were last seen driving away in a blue or green vehicle in an unknown direction,” Rouzan said.
Investigators suspected the fatal shooting was gang-related, officials said.
The body of the victim remained in the driveway of a home at the corner of Millbury Avenue and Amar Road, concealed from public view by a green tarp, as sheriff’s deputies awaited the arrival of coroner officials Friday afternoon.
Officials cordoned off the street with yellow crime scene tape, allowing only residents in an out of the area as they collected evidence and took measurements of the scene.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
— Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.
EAST VALINDA >> A deputy fatally shot a put bull as it attacked and bit his partner in the unincorporated county area of East Valinda Friday, officials said.
The shooting took place shortly before noon as two deputies were investigating a report of domestic violence in the 500 block of Richburn Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Nora Gutierrez said. Someone called deputies to report a boyfriend and girlfriend were involved in a fight in the backyard of a home.
No one responded at the home when deputies arrived, Gutierrez said. Based on the report of a possible domestic violence incident in progress, deputies made their way into the backyard to investigate.
A pit bull estimated to weigh 80 pounds attacked a female deputy in the yard, Gutierrez said. The deputy suffered a 2-inch cut to her forearm, as well as bruising all over her body.
Her partner opened fire on the dog, striking it three times, Gutierrez said. The dog died from its wounds.
The injuries deputy received treatment at a hospital, which released her Friday afternoon, the sergeant said.
POMONA >> A jury convicted an Anaheim man of murder Friday in the beating death of his 19-month-old son last year in Valinda, authorities said.
A Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for less than two days before finding Jesus Vega Estrada, 44, guilty of second-degree murder, along with assault on a child causing death, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He faces up to 25 years to life to prison when he returns to court for sentencing Dec. 15.
Estrada beat his 19-month-old son after picking the child up from the home of the boy’s mother in Valinda about 11:15 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2013, prosectors said. He told the boy’s mother he was taking the child to buy candy and juice.
Eric Avian Cervantes died at a West Covina hospital early the next morning, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey.
“When Estrada and the child returned to the home about 11:45 p.m., the victim was vomiting,” according to the statement. “The parents then took the child to the hospital, where the toddler died early the next morning.”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Estrada the same morning, according to officials and county booking records.
Coroner’s investigators determined Cervantes died from “blunt force trauma” to his liver, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Coroners officials further determined that child suffered his injuries when he was struck by an adult, Harvey said. Investigators ruled the death a homicide.
The boy had also suffered broken ribs, trauma to his head and bruising on his body, district attorney’s officials said.
The injuries were believed to have been inflicted by Estrada’s hand or fist, Ardalani said. No weapon was believed to have been involved in the fatal attack.
During trial, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michael Matoba argued that Estrada had committed to previous, unreported incidents of abuse against his son on Oct. 17 and Oct. 20, district attorney’s officials said.
A specific motive for the attack was unclear, however Ardalani said Estrada and the boy’s mother had been arguing over the amount of his child support payments prior to the killing.
Estrada was held without bail pending the trial process due to a hold placed on him by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
MONROVIA >> A Valinda man accused of strangling his girlfriend in an SUV before sending pictures of her body and an apologetic message to his mother pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Pasadena Superior Court, officials said.
Prosecutors charged Joel Velasquez, 49, last month with the murder of his 46-year-old girlfriend, Alice Marie Medina-Kaplan, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said. Deputies found her body Sept. 21 inside an SUV parked in her father’s backyard in the 200 block of Mauna Loa Drive in Monrovia.
Medina-Kaplan and Velasquez had been staying in the SUV, officials said.
Prosecutors also accuse Velasquez of the special allegation that he has a previous felony conviction in 2011 for making criminal threat.
Velasquez entered a not guilty plea, Santiago said. He is scheduled to come back to court Nov. 17 for a preliminary hearing setting.
An autopsy determined Medina-Kaplan died of strangulation, and her death was ruled a homicide, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operation Ed Winter said.
Via text message, “(Velasquez) sent pictures to his mother of his deceased girlfriend,” Winter said. The grisly photos were accompanied by a message saying he was sorry.
Handling detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, who are assisting Monrovia police in the investigation, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Friends recalled Medina-Kaplan was a woman with a once-bright future who was formerly married to an attorney and living in upscale neighborhoods before mental illness changes thr course of her life. Medina-Kaplan met Velasquez at a homeless shelter in Altadena.
Medina-Kaplan’s father told KABC that his daughter suffered from schizophrenia.
Velasquez faces up to 30 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged.
PHOTO of Alica Marie Medina-Kaplan courtesy of the DMV.
EAST VALINDA >> Foul play is not suspected in the death of a 51-year-old man whose body was found along Azusa Avenue late Saturday, authorities said.
Officials received a report about 10 p.m. that a man had been found unresponsive in front of a business in the 300 block of Azusa Avenue, just south of Temple Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. James Beamon said. The man, described as a transient, was believed to have been sleeping there.
Paramedics arrived on-scene and tried to treat the man, but he was ultimately pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m., the lieutenant said.
“It appears to be natural causes,” Beamon said.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner will perform an autopsy.
WEST VALINDA — An alleged stun gun-wielding would-be robber was behind bars Wednesday with help from a gas station clerk who fought him off and ripped away his mask, exposing the robber’s face to surveillance cameras during a failed heist earlier this month, officials said.
Deputies arrested Eddie Gonzalez, 56, of La Puente Friday in connection with the March 4 robbery at a Mobile station at Valley Boulevard and Alderton Avenue in the unincorporated county area of West Valinda, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt/ Bob Boese said Wednesday in a written statement.
Prosecutors at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed charges of robbery, assault, vandalism and petty theft against Gonzalez, the sergeant said.
Gonzalez wore a bandana over his face and a sweat shirt hood over his head when he entered the gas station about 6:30 p.m. March 4, Boese said. He brandished a stun gun and demanded money from the clerk.
As the clerk collected cash from the register, Gonzalez pressed the stun gun against the clerk’s body and tried to jolt him, officials said.
“The clerk, seeing his opportunity, began to fight with the suspect,” Boese said. “During the struggle, the clerk was able to tear away the bandana covering the suspect’s face and pull off the shirts worn by the suspect. This enabled the store video cameras to capture video of the suspect.”
The clerk then ran from the gas station, locking Gonzalez inside, Boese said. Gonzalez drank several beers from the store’s cooler before smashing a window to flee.
Aided by the surveillance camera footage, which provided clear images of the robber, detectives identified Gonzalez as a suspect in the crime and arrested him on pre-existing warrants Friday, according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Gonzalez was being held without bail pending a scheduled appearance Thursday in West Covina Superior Court, according to booking records.
EAST VALINDA — Deputies are seeking a gunman who shot and wounded two other men in a residential neighborhood Wednesday evening, officials said.
The shooting was reported about 8:15 p.m. in the 400 block of Lockmere Avenue in the unincorporated county area of East Valinda, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Raymond Enriquez said.
Three men in their 20s were walking along the street when a they were approached by a Latino man in his 20s with a shaved head driving a what was initially described as a Nissan Altima, the lieutenant said. Deputies received conflicting statements regarding the color of the car.
The attacker asked the group where they were from — a common gang challenge, officials said.
The victims, who are not believed to have gang ties, gave no response. But the gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun.
One of the men was shot three times in the back and twice in the arm, Enriquez said. He was listed in stable condition after undergoing surgery.
A second victim was struck twice in the leg and has since been treated and released from the hospital, while the third victim in the group was not struck by the gunfire.
The investigation was being handled by detectives from the sheriff’s Industry Station.
VALINDA — Three masked men struck and woman and a man with a shovel during a home-invasion robbery at a family’s home early Friday, officials said.
Family members heard a noise coming from their back door about 2:45 a.m. at their house in the 17100 block of Francisquito Ave., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Arthur Scott said.
A 42-year-old woman went to investigate the sound when she was confronted by three Asian men wearing ski masks, Scott said. One was armed with a rifle, and another held a shovel.
“She opened sliding door and got attacked with a shovel,” Scott said. The robbers then forced there way into the home and struck another resident, a 17-year-old boy, in the back with the shovel.
The robbers roused two other residents — a 43-year-old woman and an 8-year-old girl — from bed and ordered them to lie down with the other two victims in the front of the home, the lieutenant said.
“One suspect held them at gunpoint while the others went through the house,” Scott said. “They were in there about 15 minutes before they fled.”
It was not yet clear what may have been stolen from the ransacked house, he added.
Deputies uprooted 217 pot plants in Temple City, recovered two assault weapons and a handgun in Covina and arrested seven people with suspected ties to Asian organized crime Tuesday and Wednesday at the culmination of a month-long investigation, officials said.
Detectives, who had been watching the group of suspects from afar, made their move Tuesday afternoon, raiding an indoor marijuana grow inside a home in the 4800 block of Glickman Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s gang investigator Sgt. Steve Kim said.
Deputies found 217 pot plants being grown inside the home, he said. Ting Mo, 22, who told investigators she lived at the home, was arrested on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, along with Guan Mei, 29, of Los Angeles, who was detained as he was driving away from the home.
Earlier in the afternoon, deputies arrested two other men linked to the grow house after tracking them down in the area of 28th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, Kim said. Zhen Huang, 29, of Rowland Heights and Man Chon, 31, of Valinda were booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana.
Deputies then headed to a home in the 100 block of West Arbor way that had also been linked to the pot grow, Kim said. Deputies recovered an AK-47-style rifle, an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun, however the suspect was not home. Deputies continued seeking him on suspcicion of cultivating marijuana and weapons violations.
As part of the investigation Tuesday, deputies also searched another home in the 4800 block of Glickman Avenue, as well as one in the 16900 block of Pocono Street in Valinda, Kim said. Nothing of significance was discovered at either home.
Finally, deputies arrested three men Wednesday afternoon when they arrived at the the grow house that had been raided the previous day, Kim said. Rueng Chen, 28, of Duarte, Haiqian Zhang, 24, of Los Angeles and Lesheng Zou, 20, of Los Angeles were also booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana.
The suspects were believed to have ties to the Chinese gang known as Red Door, Kim added.
All seven suspects were booked with bail amounts of $50,000, sheriff’s officials said.
All of the suspects are Chinese nationals, with the exception of Huang, who sheriff’s officials described as a naturalized American citizen.