Driver leads police on chase through West Covina, abandons stolen car on 10 Freeway

WEST COVINA >> A car thief led police on a chase through West Covina late Sunday before heading the wrong way on the 10 Freeway, abandoning the stolen car on the freeway and escaping into Covina Hills, authorities said.
An officer spotted a stolen car just before 7 p.m. in the area of Azusa and Vine avenues, West Covina police Lt. Travis Tibbetts said.
The driver refused to pull over, initiating a chase.
Officers chased the Honda Accord as it got onto the eastbound 10 Freeway, exited at Barranca Street, then re-entered the freeway heading the wrong way in westbound lanes, the lieutenant said.
Police cancelled their pursuit as the suspect entered the busy freeway heading in the wrong direction, he said.
They soon found the car crashed into the center divider west of Via Verde, Tibbetts said. But the driver had continued fleeing on foot, north across freeway lanes and into the Covina Hills.
Police and CHP officers searched for the suspect, with help from a helicopter, but he suspect was not found.
A detailed description was not available.

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Missing West Covina woman with dementia found safe in Norwalk

WEST COVINA >> Police found a 62-year-old woman with dementia safe in Norwalk after she went missing from her West Covina home Thursday morning.
Christine Morris was last seen about 5 a.m. at her home in the 1900 block of East Tillie Court, according to West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez. She was reported missing at about 7 a.m.
“Christine has dementia (and) knows her name and birthday but cannot recall her address,” Lopez said in a written statement.
Morris walks with a shuffle, “as she uses a walker which was left behind.”
Police searched the area around Morris’ home, as well as local parks, malls, transportation hubs and hospitals, to no avail, Lopez said.
Officials announced Thursday afternoon that Morris had turned up safe in Norwalk.

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Teen accused of graffiti vandalism in front of Covina police station


COVINA >> Police arrested a West Covina teen Wednesday hours after he scrawled graffiti on a flagpole and newly installed parking meter dispenser outside the Covina Police Department, officials said.
The teen had gone to the Covina Police Department, 444 N. Citrus Ave., for unrelated business about 9 a.m. and decided to scrawl graffiti with a marker on the flagpole and parking machine as he left, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
After noticing the damage, police reviewed station surveillance cameras, which had captured the crime on video, he said.
Investigators identified the teen and arrested him about 9 p.m. Wednesday, the lieutenant said.
He was cited for vandalism and released to his parents pending his initial court appearance.

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UPDATED: Elderly West Covina woman fatally struck by truck at Eastland Center

WCFATAL1

WEST COVINA >> An elderly West Covina woman died after being run over by a flatbed truck in a parking lot at the Eastland Center shopping mall Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The fatal collision took place at 1:06 p.m. in the parking lot at the east end of the mall, 2753 E. Eastland Center Drive, in between a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and a Chili’s Grill & Bar, West Covina police Detective David Sifling said.
West Covina firefighters were first on the scene of a reported collision between a vehicle and pedestrian, Sifling said.
They found the woman pinned beneath the dual rear wheels of an Airgas flatbed truck hauling metallic gas cylinders, he said.
It was immediately apparent the woman was beyond help, and paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene, the detective said. Her age was not available.
WCFATAL2The woman, described as a local resident in her 80s, was walking to the BJ’s with her adult daughter for lunch when she was struck by the backing truck, Sifling said.
Coroner’s officials did not release her name Thursday pending positive identification and notification of kin.
Sifling said the woman and her daughter were well-known at the BJ’s, and the neighboring Chili’s, where they dined often.
Chili’s closed for business for the remainder of the day, officials said.
Police interviewed the driver of the truck, who appeared distraught.
A witness, who declined to be identified, said the truck was backing up, with its backing alarm sounding, when the woman was struck.
An emotional family member at the scene did not wish to comment.
No arrests had been made as officers from the West Covina police Traffic Division continued, Sifling said.
Officers cordoned off a portion of the parking lot and escorted mall patrons to cars parked within the yellow police tape.
Anyone with information can reach West Covina police at 626-939-8500.

PHOTOS by Keith Birmingham

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Shot fired during West Covina robbery; 1 suspect in custody, 1 sought


WEST COVINA >> Police arrested a woman and sought a man after they shot at, but missed, a man during a robbery on a walking path in West Covina early Sunday, authorities said.
The crime took place just after 7:15 a.m. on a walkway behind the 1700 block of Glenridge Circle Drive, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A woman in her 20s and a man in his 40s approached the victim and demanded his belongings, the lieutenant said. The woman brandished a semi-automatic handgun.
At some point during the robbery, the woman fired a shot at the victim, but did not strike him, Patton said.
The victim, a man in his 20s, turned over his backpack to the robbers, who then ran northwest, toward Temple Avenue and Amar Road.
Police began searching the area and soon found a woman matching the description of the female robber, Patton said.
She was found to be in possession of a gun, as well as some of the victim’s property, he said.
Her male accomplice remained at large Sunday.
Police withheld the female suspect’s name as they continued searching for the second robber. She was booked on suspicion of robbery and attempted murder.
Anyone with information can reach West Covina police at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour voicemail tip line at 626-939-8668.

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West Covina brothers arrested after foot chase, Taser use


WEST COVINA >> Police used a Taser to subdue a wanted man who ran from officers in West Covina Saturday afternoon, and also jailed his brother when he attacked on of the arresting officers, authorities said.
The incident began about 4:10 p.m. when an officer spotted 32-year-old Antonio Almanza, who was wanted on a warrant, in the 1000 block of North Morris Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The suspect ran when confronted by the officer, who chased Almanza to his home nearby, the lieutenant said.
Officers used a Taser to subdue the fleeing suspect, he said.
Meanwhile, Almanza’s brother, 34-year-old Alfredo Almanza, emerged from the house angered that police were arresting his brother, Patton said.
The older brother tried to strike an officer with an elbow, which the officer was able to dodge before police took Alfredo Almanza into custody as well on suspicion of assault on a peace officer and resisting or obstructing police, Patton said.
Antonio Almanza was booked for his outstanding warrant, as well as resisting or obstructing police.

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UPDATED: Man killed by police after stealing West Covina police car, leading cops on chase to Glendale identified


GLENDALE >> Authorities Wednesday released the identity of a man fatally shot by West Covina police after stealing a police car and leading officers on a wild chase that ended in Glendale as television news cameras broadcast the incident live.
Man killed by police after stealing West Covina police car, leading cops on chase to Glendale identified
Gevork Alachadzhyan, 45, of North Hollywood died at the scene of Sunday’s 10:30 p.m. officer-involved shooting in the 100 block of South Glendale Avenue, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
But sheriff’s homicide detectives, who are handling the officer-involved shooting investigation, placed a “security hold” on the case at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The security hold prevents coroner’s officials from releasing any information about the case, Winter said.
The reason for detectives’ decision to block the release of information was unclear. The handling detective at the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau declined to discuss the case Wednesday.
In a recording of police radio traffic from the pursuit, the driver — later identified as Alachadzhyan — can be heard screaming, sometimes unintelligibly, into the microphone.
AUDIO: West Covina police radio recording
“I’d rather take the car,” the man yells at one point.
“The police are gonna kill me,” he continued.
West Covina police chased Alachadzhyan, who activated the stolen squad car’s emergency lights and sirens, at high speeds before using a PIT maneuver to spin the car out. News helicopters filmed as a police SUV smashed broadside into the stolen cruiser, pinning it.
“The officers saw the suspect making efforts to remove weapons positioned between the passenger and driver’s seat,” officials from the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. “Fearing the suspect was arming himself, both officers discharged their weapons.”
The suspect died at the scene, officials said. No officers were hurt.
Authorities said the suspect stole the West Covina police car after an officer responded to a call for service 200 block of Barranca Parkway in West Covina, but ultimately determined no crime had occurred, officials said.
The officer offered the man a ride to the east end of town, according to the statement.
Once the officer let the man out of the car, “the suspect ran to the driver’s door and assumed control of the vehicle,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“The transporting officer attempted to regain control of the police vehicle. The suspect began driving with the officer near the driver’s side window, but the officer was unable to regain control of the police vehicle.”
Fellow officers soon spotted the stolen police vehicle and initiated the chase.
In addition to numerous convictions for petty theft, receiving stolen property, DUI and driving without a license, Alachadzhyan was convicted in 2013 of possession of a machine gun, being a felon in possession of a gun, drug possession and possession of drugs for sales, records show.
Other convictions include contempt of court and false impersonation of another, according to court records. At the time of Wednesday’s chase and fatal shooting, Alachadzhyan had a case pending against him on charges of hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license and driving without a valid license.

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West Covina police fatally shoot suspect in Glendale following chase in stolen police car


GLENDALE >> West Covina police shot and killed a man who stole a police car, then led officers on a pursuit that ended in Glendale late Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 10:30 p.m. in the 100 block of South Glendale Avenue, just south of Broadway, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are handling the investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting.
“The suspect, a male adult, was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
No officers were hurt in the incident.
In a drama broadcast by television helicopters, officers pursued the stolen cruiser with its lights flashing at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour until a police SUV crashed into its driver’s side door to bring it to a halt.
Further details were not immediately available.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

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Two arrested following West Covina police chase

COVINA >> Police jailed two alleged car thieves after a short pursuit that ended in Covina Sunday after the victims of an auto theft spotted their recently-stolen SUV driving through West Covina, officials said.
A man and wife called police about 12:45 p.m. to report that they’d just seen their 2007 Honda Element SUV, which has been stolen the previous day, being driven down Citrus Avenue near the 10 Freeway in West Covina, West Covina police Lt. Dave Lee said. A man was at the wheel, and a woman was riding as a passenger.
Police tried to pull over the stolen Honda, but the driver sped away, blowing through red lights and stop signs, Lee said.
The car slowed in the 2000 block of Puente Avenue, where both suspect jumped from the still-moving car, which continued rolling until it struck a mailbox, the lieutenant said.
The female passenger broke her ankle as she hopped from the still-rolling car and was immediately captured, Lee said. She was estimated to be about 30.
The driver, a man in his mid-20s, was found hiding in a residential garage and arrested with the help of a police dog following an hour-long neighborhood search, he said.
Both suspects were taken to a hospital for treatment, Lee said. Their identities were not available Sunday afternoon.
They were expected to be booked on suspicion of auto theft and resisting arrest, Lee said. The driver was also expected to be booked for evading police.

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Man killed in collision between motorcycle, SUV in West Covina


WEST COVINA >> A man died after his motorcycle collided with an SUV in a residential neighborhood in West Covina late Saturday, officials said.
The fatal crash took place just after 8:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of East Vine Street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The identity of the motorcyclist, described as a man in his 20, was not available Sunday morning. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Initial investigation indicated the SUV made a turn into a residential driveway when the motorcycle collided with the passenger side, Patton said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, he said. The driver of the SUV cooperated with police, and there were no overt signs of intoxication.
Witnesses or anyone with information can reach the West Covina Police Department at 626-939-8500, or the department’s 24-hour voicemail tip line at 626-939-8668.

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