Boyfriend of bank Chino bank robbery suspect accused of West Covina bank heist

The boyfriend of an accused bank robber has been arrested on suspicion of robbing a West Covina bank, police said.
Two Bank of the West locations in Chino and West Covina were robbed on consecutive days this month.
The Chino location was robbed July 14 by a woman wearing hospital scrubs. On July 25, Rafaella Benoit, 18, of Perris was arrested and later charged with robbery in connection with the July  14 robbery.
On Wednesday, Chino police announced the arrest of Benoit’s supposed boyfriend.
Douglas Beale Taylor, 22, allegedly robbed Bank of the West in West Covina on July 15, the day after the Chino bank robbery.
Police said Taylor executed the robbery in the same manner as his girlfriend — by slipping a note demanding money and escaping with an undisclosed amount of money.
Surveillance video linked Douglas to the West Covina robbery, Chino police said in a statement.
Officers from the Chino and West Covina police departments arrested Taylor on Tuesday at his Moreno Valley home. He was booked into the West Covina Police Department’s jail on suspicion of robbery and conspiracy, police said.
“During an interview, Taylor admitted to robbing the West Covina Bank of the West as well as being the getaway driver for the Chino Bank of the West robbery,” according to police.

- By Greg Cappis

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Police: West Covina man accidentally shoots son-in-law

WEST COVINA — A man accidentally shot his son-in-law while showing him a handgun Friday afternoon, police said.
The incident, which was being investigated as an accidental shooting, was reported about 4:40 p.m. at a home in the 900 block of South Russelee Drive, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A 9mm bullet penetrated a 28-year-old man’s wrist after the handgun, which his father-in-law was holding, discharged, the lieutenant said.
“He was reportedly showing a weapon to a relative when the weapon inadvertently went off,” Patton said.
Paramedics took the injured man to a hospital with an injury not considered to be life-threatening.
The men’s account of the shooting was corroborated by other witnesses at the scene, Patton added.
Police seized the involved gun, Patton said. Though it appeared the shooting was an accident, “We will do a comprehensive investigation.”

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UPDATED: Women robbed in West Covina home invasion

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WEST COVINA — Police are seeking two gunmen who forced their way into the home of a West Covina woman and her elderly mother Sunday, assaulting one of the women before fleeing with valuables, authorities said.
The home-invasion robbery took place just after 10 a.m. today at a house in the 3000 block of Larkwood Street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A woman estimated to be in her 50s and her mother, estimated to be in her 70s, were inside the home when the two armed robbers entered through the open door of an attached garage, police said.
“(The women) were confronted by the suspects, who were armed with handguns,” Patton said. The robbers ordered the women into a bedroom.
The daughter was bleeding from a head injury when officers arrived, he said. She had been struck by one of the robbers with a blunt object, though it was not clear if she had been pistol-whipped or struck with some other unknown object.
Both women were examined at the scene by paramedics, but not hospitalized, police said.
Police said the robbers fled with cash, jewelry and electronics. A safe was stolen during the crime.
The value of the items stolen in the robbery was not available.
Patton said the robbers were described as two black men, both wearing jeans and dark-colored T-shirts and armed with semi-automatic handguns. One of the robbers appeared 20 25 years old, while the other was described as appearing to be about 30.
They were last seen fleeing the area in a light-colored vehicle similar to a 2010 or newer-model model Chevrolet Camaro, Patton said.
A woman who answered the door at the home did not wish to comment, though she confirmed everyone was OK.
A neighbor who was home at the time of the crime said he did not hear or see anything unusual.
Patton said police were checking with other law enforcement agencies in the region to see if any similar crimes have been reported lately.
Anyone with information was asked to contact West Covina police at 626-939-8500.

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Ontario men accused of hot prowl burglary in West Covina

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WEST COVINA — Two Ontario men were behind bars Wednesday on suspicion of burglarizing the home of an elderly West Covina man as he slept inside earlier this week, officials said.
Robert Perich, 22, and Luis Santana, 19, were arrested Monday in connection with the 9:40 a.m. break-in in the 1100 block of South Montezuma Way, according to West Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A third suspect, a 23-year-old Ontario man, was also arrested along with Perich and Santana, but was released from custody Wednesday without charges, records show.
Police responded to a call reporting a possible burglary when they noticed a Chevy S-10 pickup truck parked in front of the home, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said in a written statement.
A 23-year-old Ontario man was found hiding in the back seat area and was arrested on suspicion of burglary, though he was ultimately released without charges Wednesday, according to police and booking records.
0703_NWS_SGT-L-WCBURGLARS2After setting up a search perimeter, police saw two men running from the home, Lopez said. One, later identified as Santana, was quickly captured in a nearby backyard.
The other fleeing suspect, later identified as Perich, ran onto the golf course at South Hills Country Club, where police caught up with him and took him into custody.
“A 78-year-old male resident was inside the location asleep in his bedroom during the burglary,” Lopez said. “Of the items stolen and recovered, many were taken from the room the resident was sleeping in.”
All of the allegedly stolen items were recovered, and no injuries were reported in connection with the incident, Lopez said.
Perich was ultimately booked on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest, as well as on two outstanding warrants, Lopez said. Santana was jailed on suspicion of burglary and receiving stolen property, police said.
According to county booking records, Perich was being held in lieu of $195,000 bail, while Santana was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

PHOTOS of suspects Robert Perich, above, and Luis Santana, (below) courtesy of the West Covina Police Department.

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UPDATED: Suspect subdued with Taser during fight with police in West Covina

WEST COVINA — A man was believed to be high on methamphetamine Saturday when he fought with police, who ultimately subdued him with a Taser, officials said.
Two police officers suffered minor injuries in the incident, West Covina police Lt. David Lee said.
Johnny Rangel, 24, of Baldwin Park was arrested on suspicion of assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest and being under the influence of narcotics following the incident, which unfolded just before 2:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of East Garvey Avenue, Lee said.
A woman called police to report that Rangel, who she knew, was banging on her door and causing a disturbance while apparently under the influence of methamphetamine, the lieutenant said.
When officers arrived, Rangel became, “immediately combative,” Lee said.
They struggled with him before ultimately using a Taser to take him into custody, police said. He was taken to a hospital for examination prior to booking.
Two police officers suffered minor injuries during the fight and were also treated at a hospital before being released, Lee said.

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West Covina man guilty of murder in wife’s slaying

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A West Covina man is guilty of fatally beating and stabbing his wife before leaving her body in the trunk of her car in the parking lot of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, a jury found Wednesday.
Tomas Infante, 62, killed his wife 57-year-old Charito Tolentino of West Covina Jan. 11, 2013, after a woman with whom he had been having an affair on his wife with learned he was married, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for about two hours before convicting Infante of first-degree murder, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
“During the trial, the defendant’s son testified that his father that his father told him he had killed his stepmother,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Additionally, surveillance video at the casino, cell phone records and blood evidence at the home linked Infante to the crime.”
Prosecutors said Infante killed his wife the day after the woman he had been seeing learned he was already married and broke up with him.
“A day after the breakup, Tolentino went missing,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Infante reported his wife missing Jan. 12, telling authorities she had never returned home from work, according to Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Worried family members began searching for Tolentino, and with help from her cell phone provider, was able to find her SUV in the parking lot of the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, the lieutenant said. The family notified sheriff’s deputies, who then found Tolentino’s body in the trunk of her vehicle.
An autopsy determined Tolentino had suffered three stab wounds to her neck and chest area, five lacerations on her head and multiple bruises on her head, face, hands and right forearm, face and he
Detectives arrested Infante Jan. 14, after carrying out a search of the West Covina home he shared with his wife and their 17-year-old daughter.
Investigators found blood inside the attached garage of the home, amid other evidence, Ardalani said.
Infante faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison when he returns to Pomona Superior Court to be sentenced by Judge Mike Camacho July 8.

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Gunman dissatisfied with amount of money in register during West Covina pharmacy robbery, tells clerk to ‘Keep it’

WEST COVINA — An armed man abandoned a pharmacy robbery Sunday morning after he was apparently disappointed by the amount of cash in the register, authorities said.
The incident, which was being investigated as an attempted robbery, took place about 9:40 a.m. at a CVS Pharmacy at 702 N. Azusa Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A man entered the store and approached a clerk with a bottle of water, as if he was about to purchase it, the lieutenant said.
He then lifted his sweatshirt to expose a black, semi-automatic handgun tucked into his waistband, Patton said. “He demanded money from the clerk.”
The employee removed placed 20-, 10- and 5-dollar bills from the register, but the would-be robber turned his nose up at the cash.
After asking if that was all the money the clerk had, he stated, “Keep it,” before leaving the store empty-handed, Patton said.
Police searched the area with help from a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, but were unable to find the suspect, he said. The gunman was described as a black man with a light complexion between 25 and 30 years old, about 6 feet 1 inch tall, 180 pounds and clean-shaven. He wore a black hat with a white logo on the front, a light gray zip-up hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants and black shoes.

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UPDATED: Suspect shocked with Taser and arrested after chase from Pomona to West Covina, crash

Deputies subdued a fleeing, wanted suspect with a Taser Saturday after he tried to run deputies off the road in Pomona, then led them on a freeway chase which ended in a crash in West Covina, authorities said.
Eddie Mendez, 30, of Pomona was arrested following the pursuit, which began about 11:30 a.m., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records. He is on felony probation or Post Release Community Supervision under AB 109 of 2011, also known as prison realignment, following drug-related convictions.
At least one civilian car was also run off the roadway during the chase, Lt. Andy Berg of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station said. No injuries were reported to deputies or civilians.
Two deputies were driving in a patrol car at Gillette Road and Dudley Street in Pomona when a blue Chevrolet HHR with no license plates exited the parking lot of a nearby motel, sheriff’s officials said.
The driver, later identified as Mendez, “looked straight at them and drove toward them as if trying to strike them,” Berg said. “He tried to run them off the road.”
The deputy driving the patrol car managed to avoid a collision, turned around and began chasing the SUV.
As the fleeing SUV entered the westbound 10 Freeway, it pulled in front of a civilian car, forcing it off the road, Berg said. Officials were also looking into a report that a second civilian vehicle may have been struck by the suspect’s SUV during the chase.
Mendez continued weaving in and out of traffic as he sped down the 10 Freeway, Berg said. He soon crashed in West Covina.
“Eventually, in his weaving, he lost control. He hit the center divider near Azusa avenue,” the lieutenant said.
Mendez ran across eastbound traffic lanes and tried, but failed, to climb over a sound wall, Berg said.
Deputies chased after Mendez on foot and caught up with him as he was making a second attempt to scale the wall about 100 yards to the west.
Deputies shocked Mendez with a Taser, which disabled him and allowed them to place him in handcuffs without further struggle, Berg said.
Deputies determined Mendez was wanted on a “no bail” warrant due to a violation of parole or probation, Berg said.
After being examined at a hospital, Mendez was expected to be booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, evading police and hit-and-run, as well as the outstanding warrant.

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UPDATED — Police: Suspect in bizarre West Covina rampage admits using bath salts, methamphetamine

WEST COVINA >> A man believed to be high on bath salts and methamphetamine threatened passers-by with a gas can, doused himself in the flammable liquid and bit a police officer before finally being wrestled into custody by police early Saturday, authorities said.
Juan Carlos Urrutia, 24, of West Covina was arrested in connection with the incident, according to West Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
The bizarre series of event unfolded shorty after 7 a.m. in the area of West Covina Parkway and Glendora Avenue.
Police received numerous calls of a man — later identified as Urrutia — of about 19 years old walking in the middle of the street with a gasoline can in-hand, “threatening motorists to light them on fire,” West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Callers further reported that the man had doused a bush, as well as himself, in gasoline, and had been seen carrying both a lighter and a crowbar, the lieutenant said.
Officers arrived and confronted Urrutia, who was still carrying the gas can, as well as some jumper cables and paper towels that had been soaked in gasoline, Patton said. He appeared highly intoxicated.
“He disobeyed call commands,” Patton said.
But because the man was soaked in flammable liquid, officer were unable to use a Taser to subdue Urrutua for fear of igniting a fire, police said. So police wrestled him into custody.
“It took multiple officers to get this guy into custody,” Patton said.
Urrutia bit an officer in the arm during the struggle, breaking the skin and causing a “significant injury,” Patton said. The officer was treated and released at a hospital.
The suspect told officials that he had consumed bath salts and methamphetamine, he said. He was taken to a hospital for examination.
Bath salts is a term used to describe a family of synthetic stimulants often sold as items such as bath salt, labeled not for human consumption.
After being examined at a hospital, Urrutia was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, resisting arrest and being under the influence of drugs, police said.
According to county booking records, Urrutia was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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UPDATED — Walnut carjacking suspect arrested after hit-and-run, burglaries in West Covina

A Walnut carjacking suspect fleeing the scene of a crash broke into two homes, startling residents, and was trying to break into a third when police arrested him Thursday, authorities said.
Joseph Zavala, 24, of North Hollywood was ultimately arrested on suspicion of carjacking, felony hit-and-run, burglary and possession of stolen property, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
The incident kicked off about 2:40 p.m. when the suspect grabbed a set of keys from a woman at a gas station at Pierre Road and Valley Boulevard in Walnut, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Saleeby said. He fled with the woman’s Toyota sedan, he said. The woman was not injured.
About five minutes later, police in West Covina received a report of a hit-and-run car crash at Grand Avenue and Cortez street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said. A woman had suffered a minor injury in the collision when the suspect struck her vehicle, then ran from the scene.
Officials soon linked the car Zavala had been driving to the earlier carjacking, Patton said.
Zavala arrived at a home in the 500 block of Grand Avenue, the lieutenant said. “He removed the window screen and entered the residence, where he was confronted by the homeowners.” The residents managed to chase the intruder away, however further details of the encounter were not immediately available.
Patton said the fleeing suspect then showed up at a second home in the 600 block of Ferrari Way, “…where he broke a window of that residence. He entered into that structure, where he confronted the female resident, who feared for her safety and fled from her residence.”
Zavala helped himself to the woman’s refrigerator before continuing to run, Patton said.
Officers caught up with the man as he was breaking a window of a garage in the 600 block of Wrede Lane, Patton said. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
Officials took Zavala to a hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash and the break-ins prior to booking him into jail, Patton said.
Investigators were also looking into the possibility the suspect was under the influence of methamphetamine during the incident.

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