WEST COVINA >> A fire blamed on an unattended cigarette tore through a residential garage early Saturday, officials said.
The 3 a.m. fire in the 800 block of South Lark Ellen Avenue caused about $100,000 worth of damage to the attached garage, West Covina Fire Department Capt. Scott Gilmore said.
The residents all got out of the home safely before firefighters arrived, the captain said. One firefighter suffered a minor back injury while battling the blaze, but did not require hospitalization.
Twenty-one firefighters extinguished the fire in about 30 minutes, Gilmore said.
The cause was determined to be a cigarette a resident had left unattended in the garage, he said.
INDUSTRY >> California High Patrol officers are planning to screen drivers for sobriety during a checkpoint this weekend in an unincorporated county area between Industry and West Covina, officials said.
The overnight checkpoint will begin at 9 p.m. Friday at an undisclosed location, CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said in a written statement.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
WEST COVINA >> A man robbed the owner of a check cashing business of a “large amount” of cash earlier this week in the parking lot outside the victim’s business, police said.
The crime took place about 3:50 p.m. Friday at a check cashing business on Francisquito Avenue, just east of Sunset Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The business owner had just returned from the bank with a bag of cash was exiting his car when a robber approached, Patton said.
“The suspect knocked him to the pavement and forcible removed the bag,” the lieutenant said. The victim suffered no significant injuries.
Police said the robber was last seen getting into a red SUV already occupied by two additional suspects.
It was not clear whether the robbers followed the victim to his business from the bank.
WEST COVINA >> Authorities Sunday released the identity of a West Covina man fatally shot by police after allegedly stabbing his brother, then charging at an officer with a knife.
Cesar A. Limon Juarez, 27, died at the scene of Friday’s 8:10 p.m. officer-involved shooting at Valley Boulevard and Nogales Street, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Betsy Magdaleno said.
He had just stabbed his brother at their apartment in the 4100 block of Sentous Avenue minutes earlier when a West Covina police officer confronted him on the street, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
The officer shocked Juarez with a Taser as the suspect advanced on the officer with a large kitchen knife, Corina said. Juarez fell to the ground but got back up and again approached the officer with the knife still in-hand.
The officer opened fire, fatally wounding Juarez, officials said. No officers were hurt.
WEST COVINA >> A West Covina police officer fatally shot a knife-wielding man who had just stabbed his brother late Friday, authorities said.
The officer-involved shooting took place about 8:10 p.m. in the area of Valley Boulevard and Nogales Street at the southern edge of the city, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
The incident began 10 minutes earlier when police received a 9-1-1 call reporting a man had been stabbed at an apartment in the 4100 block of Sentous Avenue, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“According to the victim, he and his brother, the suspect, live together in the same apartment,” Corina said. “His brother was trying to leave the apartment with a knife. When the victim tried to stop him the suspect stabbed him. The suspect then left the apartment walking.”
The stabbing victim was hospitalized with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
West Covina police officers found the suspect walking along Nogales Street, still armed with a large kitchen knife, Corina said.
“When the officer went to contact the suspect, the suspect closed in on him with the knife so the officer used his (Taser) on the suspect,” the lieutenant said. “The suspect went to the ground but got back up and advanced at the officer, again, with the knife in his hand. The officer then shot the suspect with his duty weapon.”
Paramedics pronounced the suspect dead at the scene. His name was withheld Saturday pending notification of his family.
No officers were hurt in the incident, officials said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is leading the investigation into the incident, as is common practice in shootings involving Los Angles County police agencies.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PHOTO courtesy of https://instagram.com/evolwaysinc.xv/
BAKERSFIELD >> All three of the West Covina’s Police Department’s K-9 teams brought back awards, including the “Top Dog Overall” award, in a statewide competition hosted by Bakersfield police over the weekend.
Officer Matt Bowman and K-9 partner Rec earned the Top Dog honor for the department, while Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko won first place in patrol protection and Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky won fourth place in overall best, according to West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez.
“I am very proud of the professionalism our K-9 teams showed, the time and preparation they invested in training and their overall performance,” West Covina Police Chief Dave Faulkner said. “Their success is attributed to discipline and ongoing training within the unit.”
Forty-two police dog teams from throughout California competed in a series of categories, including agility, obedience, searches, protection, narcotics detection and explosives detection, Lopez explained.
It was the West Covina Police Department’s first time joining the Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials, hosted by the Bakersfield Police Department, and they were up against much more experienced teams, Lopez said. Bowman has about eight months experience as a dog handler, while Miller has been a K-9 handler for about five months, and Rodriguez had been teamed with Reiko for 10 months.
And Reiko has recovered from being shot while apprehending a murder suspect who was ultimately killed by police.
It’s not always certain how a police dog will react to such a trauma, Lopez said. Some become more timid after such an experience.
But as evidenced by his performance over the weekend, Lopez said, “This dog became an even sharper dog.”
The West Covina police K-9 program is supported by the Friends of the West Covina Police Department K-9s. For more information, visit www.friendsofwcpdk9s.org.
In addition to commending the winning K-9 teams, Faulkner thanks the organization for their past and continued support.
“I also want to recognize and thank the Friends of WCPD K9s nonprofit group for their continued support in assisting us in our pursuit of adding a 4th Police K-9 to the Department,” the chief said.
The annual Bakersfield Police K-9 Trials is open to the public, with proceeds benefitting the Bakersfield-based charity, the Society for Disabled Children.
PHOTOS courtesy of the West Covina Police Department. From left to right (top photo): Officer Matt Bowman and Rec: Officer Bryan Rodriguez and Reiko; Officer Jesse Miller and Rocky.
WEST COVINA >> Police used bean bag rounds to subdue an uncooperative man following a short police chase early Sunday, officials said.
Fidel Pantoja, 26, of Covina, was booked on suspicion of felony evading of police and resisting arrest following the incident, which kicked off about 12:38 a.m., West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Officers tried to pull over a car being driven by Pantoja in West Covina but he refused to yield, initiating a chase, Patton said. The pursuit came to an end minutes later when Pantoja stopped his car outside the Brunswick Covina bowling alley in the 1000 block of West San Bernardino Road.
Pantoja exited his car but ignored officer’s orders to surrender, the lieutenant said. Officers shot Pantoja with a bean bag round before taking him into custody.
A knife was found on the ground, within Pantoja’s reach, he said.
Pantoja, who has previous criminal cases pending, was being held in lieu of $155,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
WEST COVINA >> An elderly man who went missing in West Covina Thursday turned up disoriented, but safe, early Saturday morning, police said.
Buddy Merritt Saunders disappeared after leaving a West Covina hospital Thursday night. The 85-year-old man, who suffers from memory loss issues, was supposed to drive home, but never arrived, West Covina police officials said. He was reported missing to police the following day.
Police reached out to the public and the California Highway Patrol issued a Silver Alert, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said.
“Early this morning, Mr. Saunders was located by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in the city of San Clemente,” Lopez said. “He was disoriented but safe and unharmed.”
Officials took Saunders to a hospital for examination as a precaution, Lopez added. No foul play was suspected.
WEST COVINA >> A man suffered a gunshot wound but was expected to survive following a shooting Wednesday afternoon in an unincorporated county area near West Covina, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 3:20 p.m. in the 4000 block of North Frijo Avenue, just north of Badillo Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edwards said.
The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear, as the shooting victim, a 24-year-old man, did not appear to be cooperating with investigators, the lieutenant said.
Deputies sought a gray Dodge Charger with a black racing stripe seen in the area at the of the shooting, she added.
The victim suffered a wound to his back that was not believed to be life-threatening, Edwards said.
Detectives from the sheriff’s San Dimas Station are handling the investigation.
POMONA >> A La Puente man accused of fatally shooting a man in West Covina, as well as shooting and wounding his ex-girlfriend in Covina, during an alleged crime spree in April, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges Thursday, authorities said.
Manuel Jerome Lujan, described by police as a 33-year-old West Covina gang member, appeared in Pomona Superior court where he denied charges of murder, attempted murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, robbery, assault with a firearm and exhibiting a concealed firearm in public, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Prosecutors further allege that Lujan intentionally fired a firearm causing injury or death, and that Lujan was previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 2001.
His alleged series of violent crimes took place between April 26 and April 29. It began when Lujan robbed a man of his cell phone at gunpoint in Valinda and brandished a gun at other victims, according to prosecutors.
Three days later, he fatally shot 36-year-old Jabarri Butts behind a Social Security office in the 500 block of South Vincent Avenue, and opened fire on a nearby home, West Covina police officials said.
Hours later, he showed up at the home of his ex-girlfriend in the 300 block of West Center Street in Covina, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said. He through rocks and the woman’s window to get her attention, then shot her when she came to the window.
Lujan is scheduled to appear in Pomona Superior Court July 9 for a hearing, officials said. If convicted as charged, he could face life in prison.