2nd UPDATE — Officials: Walnut woman escapes kidnapper after abduction from store parking lot

WALNUT — A woman escaped a parolee who carjacked and kidnapped her from the parking lot of a Walnut store late Thursday, though his ultimate intentions remained a mystery, authorities said.
The strange and brazen crime took place about 2 p.m. as Walnut woman was carjacked and abducted in the parking lot of T.J. Maxx at Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
The woman, a Walnut resident in her late-30s who was a stranger to the suspect, left the store and was getting into her car when she was confronted by a man holding what was later found to be a realistic-looking BB gun, Detective Joseph Sanchez said. The man blocked her from closing her car door once she got in, Detective Joseph Sanchez said.
“He forced himself into her car,” the detective said. “He climbed over her, got into the passenger seat and told her to just drive.”
The woman resisted at first, but ultimately relented to the man’s demand, he said.
“He had her basically drive around aimlessly for an hour and a half,” Sanchez said.
As the suspect forced the woman to drive through South Los Angeles, she spotted a police car along Wall Street in South Los Angeles and saw an opportunity to escape, officials said.
“She saw a black-and-white and decided to get out of the car and run and ask for help,” Sanchez said.
Los Angeles police detained the suspect without a struggle and turned him over to sheriff’s deputies, he added. A BB gun that resembled a Beretta 9mm handgun was seized from the suspect during his arrest.
Deputies first responded to the Walnut T.J. Maxx store after witnesses reported seeing the alleged abduction, Lt. John Saleeby said.
“A woman was heard saying she needed help and witnesses said her and a male drove off in a car,” Saleeby said. “The impression was he forced her to drive off.”
Investigators withheld the alleged kidnapper’s name Friday as they continued seeking witnesses, as well as any other potential victims who may have had suspicious encounter with the suspect, Lt. Anthony Tachias said. He was described as a San Gabriel Valley man in his mid-30s.
The suspect was already on parole for carjacking and was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Pomona Superior Court, officials said.
The motive in the kidnapping and carjacking, as well as the suspect’s ultimate intentions, were unclear, investigators said. Nothing was stolen from the woman, and she was not assaulted while in the suspect’s custody
“That’s an unknown factor here,” Tachias said. “He won’t talk to us. He never any indication to the victim as to what his intentions were.”
“He committed this act with no rhyme or reason,” the lieutenant added. “I’m just glad we got her back safely.”

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UPDATED: Woman found safe after possible kidnapping, carjacking at Walnut shopping center

WALNUT — A woman was found safe and a man was in custody Thursday after witnesses reported seeing what appeared to be an armed kidnapping and carjacking, officials said.
The incident was first reported about 2 p.m. in a parking lot outside a T.J. Maxx store at Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
“A woman was heard saying she needed help and witnesses said her and a male drove off in a car,” the lieutenant said.
Witnesses reported the man was armed with a handgun, he said.
“The impression was he forced her to drive off,” Saleeby said.
The man was described only as Latino and wearing dark clothes, and the vehicle the man and woman were seen in was described only as a dark-colored car.
Officials at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station, which was handling the investigation, notified other area law enforcement agencies of the possible kidnapping and carjacking.
The man and woman were found shortly after 7 p.m. within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department, sheriff’s Sgt. William Sanders said. The woman was unharmed and the man was being taken to the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station for questioning and potential booking.
Detectives continued investigating the incident late Thursday, and officials released no further details.

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West Covina man who died following Walnut car crash identified

WALNUT — Coroner’s officials Sunday released the name of a 47-year-old who died at a hospital earlier in the week after he was found unresponsive in his car following a solo-vehicle crash.
Randy Matlock died at San Dimas Community Hospital a little more than an hour after his car went over a curb and struck a utility pole about noon Thursday along Grand Avenue at Mountaineer Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
The crash did not appear major, and there was no trauma immediately apparent on Matlock’s body, leading officials to suspect he may have suffered a medical problem prior to the crash, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Robert Seals said.
An official cause of death had not been determined Sunday, Dietz said.
The crash was under investigation by deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station.

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Man dies following Walnut solo-car crash

WALNUT — A man died Thursday following an apparently minor solo-car crash along Grand Avenue that may have been preceded by a medical problem, authorities said.
The incident was reported about noon along Grand Avenue and Mountaineer Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said.
The man’s car had gone over a curb on the southbound side of the roadway and struck either a pole or a tree, however the collision did not appear consistent with a major-injury crash, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Robert Seals said.
Paramedics took the man to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to fire and sheriff’s officials.
It initially appeared the man may have suffered a medical condition, Seals said. “He didn’t have any trauma from the impact.”
Deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station were handling the investigation.

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Woman pepper sprayed after interrupting burglary in Walnut

WALNUT — A burglar or burglars sprayed a senior citizen in the face with pepper spray when she walked in on a break-in at her Walnut home Wednesday, officials said.
The crime took place shortly after 9 a.m. at a home near Creekside and San Nicholas drives, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Perez said.
The woman, estimated to be in her 60s, had no idea there was a burglary going on in her house when she walked through the front door, the sergeant said.
She was immediately doused in the face with pepper spray, preventing her from getting a look at her attacker or attackers, Perez said. The burglar or burglars then fled.
There was evidence of some ransacking inside the home, however it was not clear what may have been stolen, he said.
The woman was treated at the scene but was not hospitalized, Perez added.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station were handling the investigation.

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Teenagers robbed near Walnut High School

WALNUT — A group of half a dozen young men robbed two teenagers as they walked near Walnut High School Friday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime took place about 3:30 p.m. at Arbola Lane and Delphine Drive, one block south of the high school, Sgt. R. Causey of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station said.
Two teenage boys were walking on the sidewalk when they were approached by a group of young men, the sergeant said.
The robbers first grabbed a watch from one of the boys, but apparently were not satisfied with it and threw it to the ground, Causey said. They then took an iPhone from the other boy.
After obtaining the phone, the six robbers got into a silver, four-door Honda or Toyota sedan, which was last seen westbound on Delphine Drive, Causey said.
The teenage victims were not injured in the robbery, he added. It was unclear if they were students at the nearby high school.
Officials described all the robbers as men of 18 or 19 years old. One was Latino, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 155 pounds, while another was described as Latino, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and about 145 pounds.

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UPDATED: Man fatally struck by passenger train in Walnut

WALNUT – A young man died early Wednesday after being struck by a passenger train in a commercial neighborhood in an apparent, authorities said.
The man was struck by an Amtrak train shortly before 6 a.m. along Valley Boulevard, just east of Pierre Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The man’s name was not available Thursday. He was initially described as an Asian man of between 18 and 20 years old.
Initial reports indicated the death was a suicide, according to Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham. It appeared the pedestrian lied down and placed his head on the tracks prior to being struck.
“Everything looks like suicide,” Lt. Holly Francisco of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said. The investigation was ongoing, however, and an autopsy was planned by coroner’s officials.
No injuries were reported to any passengers or crew aboard the westbound train, which was just about to complete the Sunset Limited route from New Orleans to Los Angeles when the pedestrian was struck, Graham said. The train left New Orleans Sunday.
The incident took place on a section of track bordered by Valley Boulevard on one side, and businesses and fencing on the other. There are no crossings in the immediate area.
The exact speed the train was travelling was unclear, she said, however the speed limit for that section of the route is 65 mph.
Graham said the train was delayed for a little more than three hours before resuming its journey.

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UPDATED: Walnut man dies in 60 Freeway motorcycle hit-and-run; two drivers arrested

A motorcyclist died and two people were arrested early Sunday following a hit-and-run crash on the 60 Freeway at the 605 Freeway, authorities said.
The fatal collision was first reported about 2:40 a.m. in the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, just east of the 605 Freeway in an unincorporated county area near Industry, California Highway Patrol Officer Ed Jacobs said.
The name of the motorcyclist was not released by coroner’s officials pending notification of his family. CHP officials described him as a 28-year-old Walnut man.
Arrested were Ai Ho, 57, of Rowland Heights on suspicion of hit-and-run, as well as Gilberto Flores, 25, of Los Angeles, on suspicion of hit-and-run and drunken driving, California Highway Patrol officer Jennifer Cassidy said.
The motorcyclist was riding a 2012 Yamaha motorcycle at a “high rate of speed” in the No. 3 lane prior to the collision, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement.
He rear-ended a 1995 Lexus SC300 being driven ahead of him by Ho at about 65 mph, officials said.
“As a result of this collision, (the motorcyclist) was ejected into the No. 3 lane while his vehicle continued travelling westbound,” the statement said.
A 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe being driven by Flores then came upon the scene and struck the motorcycle, according to the CHP.
Paramedics pronounced the motorcyclist dead at the scene, Jacobs said. The Lexus and Chevrolet that were involved in the crash had fled the scene.
Investigators, aided by a license plate that fell off one of the vehicles during the crash, located the cars in Rowland Heights and Los Angeles, and the suspected drivers were arrested, officials said.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Ho was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending her initial court appearance, while Flores was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Officials issued a Sig Alert on the westbound 60 Freeway for more than two hours following the crash.

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Walnut woman sentenced in Irwindale hit-and-run

POMONA — A Walnut woman was released from jail Wednesday following her sentencing for a hit-and-run crash in Irwindale that left an elderly Baldwin Park woman dead last year, officials said.Ashley Lopez, 22, was sentenced to 360 days jail time, which she was credit for due to time already served, along with five years of formal probation, Pomona Superior Court officials said.Lopez had been in custody since February after pleading no contest late last year to a count of felony hit-and-run following a Nov. 2 collision at Live Oak and Stewart avenues in Irwindale, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.Killed in the collision was 80-year-old Cu Lee Nguyen, who was crossing Live Oak Avenue when she was struck by Lopez’s eastbound car, according to Irwindale police. She died at the scene. Lopez was arrested Nov. 5 at her workplace in Irwindale after an investigation identified her as the driver of the car that struck Nguyen, police said.Police said she told investigators she fled the scene of the crash because she was afraid.

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Deputies to crack down on motorcycle safety in Walnut

WALNUT — Sheriff’s officials are planning to crack down on motorcycle safety Tuesday , authorities said.
“Extra deputies will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes occur,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“Deputies will be looking for drivers and riders who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cracking down on traffic violations made by motorcyclist as well as other vehicle drivers that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities,” the statement said.
A 10 year trend of increasing numbers of motorcycle fatalities statewide peaked in 2008, with 560 deaths, and dropped by 37 percent in the following two years, officials said.
“This is a positive trend that we want to see continue,” the sheriff’s statement said.
In the area patrolled by the sheriff’s department, however, motorcycle crashed and fatalities have been on the rise.
Officials reported 184 injury motorcycle crashes in 2011, up from 47 in 1998. Two motorcyclists died in crashed in 1998, while six were killed in crashes in 2011.
Riders are encouraged to get training through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. For more information, call 877-743-3411.

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