WEST COVINA >> Authorities have identified a 62-year-old woman who was found dead inside her West Covina townhome following a fire on Tuesday morning.
Grace Han Wu was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire, which broke out just after 7 a.m. in the 1300 block of East Parkside Circle, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter.
A second person escaped from the burning home unharmed, Assistant Fire Chief Brian McDermott said.
The fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to Wu’s home and minor damage to two adjacent units, Fire Chief Larry Whithorn said.
West Covina firefighters, who were aided by Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters, extinguished the flames within 30 minutes, officials said.
Once the fire was out, officials discovered Wu’s body, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said.
Her cause of death remained under investigation by coroner’s officials, while the cause of the fire was being investigated by the West Covina Fire Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arson investigators.
PHOTO by Walt Mancini
Nearly 100 law enforcement officers from local, county and state agencies carried out 36 searches and made 17 arrests during a parole and probation compliance sweep in the central San Gabriel Valley on Thursday morning.
The series of raids focused primarily on the West Covina and La Puente areas, including the surrounding unincorporated county areas, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The operation was spearheaded by Los Angeles County sheriff’s La Puente Special Assignment Team and the West Covina Police Department, with help from agencies including Irwindale police, Azusa police, state parole officials and prison investigators, county probation officers and officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, according to sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro.
The arrests were for alleged crimes including drug violations, gang injunction violations, parole violations, probation violations and outstanding warrants, Cacheiro said.
“We specifically targeted individuals that had a nexus to gang related crimes,” Patton said.
The majority of the homes visited by police and deputies on Thursday were those of probationers or parolees, though some of the visits were the result of investigative leads, he added.
The task force set out to focus on emerging crime trends, as well as, “to bring a better sense of quality of life back to our communities,” Patton said.
“As we realize crime has no boundaries, our partnerships with our allied partners allow us to effective combat those quality of life issues,” Patton said.
La Puente Mayor Valerie Munoz applauded the effort.
“Our priorities are to safeguard our residents,” she said. “La Puente appreciated the efforts of our sheriff’s department and their collaboration with our surrounding municipal police agencies.”
PHOTO: Law enforcement officers prepare to visit three-dozen locations, primarily homes of probationers and parolees, during a compliance sweep in the La Puente and West Covina areas on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Courtesy, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)
WEST COVINA >> Authorities have released the identity of a La Puente man who died in a three-car crash in West Covina last weekend.
Michael Moses Saavedra, 50, died shortly after the 11:55 a.m. crash on May 13 at Lark Ellen and Puente avenues, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
He was at the wheel of a 1960s-model Chevrolet Impala that was believed to have run through a red light and crashed into two other cars, according to West Covina police Lt. Ron Allen.
Saavedra had to be cut free from the wreckage by firefighters, he said. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A man driving one of the vehicles struck by the Impala was treated for significant injuries, while a woman and child riding as passenger in that car suffered injuries described as minor, Allen said. The driver of the second car struck by the Impala suffered minor injuries.
The Impala was southbound on Lark Ellen avenue when it passed through a red light at Puente Avenue, Allen said.
Though the first vehicle struck by the Impala was initially described by police as being in the left-turn lane from southbound Lark Ellen avenue to Puente Avenue, it was later determined the car was struck broadside while traveling on Puente Avenue, Allen said. The Impala then continued moving and struck a second car, which was in the left-turn lane from northbound Lark Ellen Avenue to Puente Avenue.
Police suspected Saavedra may have been driving under the influence at the time of the crash, Allen said.
Police are asking the public’s help in finding a West Covina man suffering from dementia who went missing in after leaving a hospital in Baldwin Park on Saturday morning.
Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, was last seen at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center, 1011 Baldwin Park Blvd., during the early-morning hours, West Covina police officials said in a written statement. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“(Williams) suffers from early stages of dementia and needs ongoing medical attention,” according to the statement.
Williams was driving a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck with a license plate of 84733X1. He’s described as black, 6 feet 3 inches tall, 210 pounds, with a goatee and piercing in his left ear. He was last seen wearing red and black gym shorts.
Anyone who spots the missing person is urged to call 911 or contact local police immediately.
PHOTO: Missing person Jerry Quinton Williams, 73, of West Covina. (Courtesy, West Covina Police Department)
WEST COVINA >> A man died and two other people suffered injuries in a three-vehicle crash in West Covina on Saturday, officials said.
The collision occurred about 11:55 a.m. at Lark Ellen and Puente avenues, West Covina police Lt. Ron Allen said.
Initial investigation indicated 1960s-model Chevrolet Impala heading south in Lark Ellen Avenue clipped another car in the southbound left-turn lane before careening through a red light and slamming into a second car in the northbound left-turn lane, the lieutenant said.
Witnesses who called 911 to report the crash relayed that one of the vehicles was on fire, he said.
Firefighters had to cut the driver of the Impala free from the wreckage, Allen said. He soon succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash.
The driver of one of the cars struck by the Impala was hospitalized with major injuries, but was expected to survive, police said.
The driver of the car that was clipped by the Impala suffered apparently minor injuries.
WEST COVINA >> A 19-year-old La Puente man is accused of murder following an alleged DUI-related crash that claimed the life of one passenger and injured two others early Saturday, police said.
The crash took place about 3:50 a.m. on Lark Ellen Avenue, near Vine Avenue, West Covina police Lt. Ron Allen said.
Andrew James Gomez was at the wheel of a Chevrolet Cobalt when it veered off the roadway and struck a light pole along the west side of Lark Ellen Avenue, according to West Covina police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
“The driver was ejected,” Allen said. “A rear passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Two additional passengers in the car were treated for minor injuries, Allen said.
Officials withheld the identity of the victim who died pending notification of his family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. He was initially described only as a man.
Gomez was treated for his injuries before being booked on suspicion of murder, according to the lieutenant. Investigators determined he was under the influence of a substance. Further details were not available regarding what substance or substances were believed to be in his system.
The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by West Covina Police Department’ Traffic Unit.
According to county booking records, Gomez was being held in lieu of $1 million bail the West Covina Police Department’s jail pending his initial court appearance.
Anyone with information can reach the traffic unit at 626-939-8555.
WEST COVINA >> Police are planning a sobriety and driver license checkpoint in West Covina on Friday night, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez 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.
A man and woman suffered wounds in a shooting in West Valinda before crashing their car in West Covina late Thursday, authorities said.
The incident was first reported about 9:45 p.m., West Covina police Lt. Travis Tibbetts said.
A car had been involved in a minor crash with another vehicle at Sunset and Merced avenues, he said. The driver and passenger of one of the cars had been shot.
It appeared the crash took place as the woman was trying to drive to a hospital, officials said.
Police soon determined the shooting had taken place across the city border in the unincorporated county area of West Valinda, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. David Contreras said. The specific scene of the shooting had not been found Thursday night.
The male passenger was taken to a hospital where he was rushed into surgery, Contreras said. An update on his condition was not available.
The wounded woman was hospitalized in stable condition, he said.
No further details were available.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WEST COVINA >> Paramedics rushed a man and woman to a trauma center in critical condition after their car struck a tree along Amar Road in West Covina early Saturday, officials said.
The crash took place about 9:30 a.m. on eastbound Amar Road, just west of Temple Avenue, West Covina Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian McDermott said.
Firefighters had to cut the man and woman free from the wreckage of their sedan before flying them to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter, McDermott said. Officials encountered no additional patients.
The cause and circumstance of the crash were being investigated by the West Covina Police Department, but no one at the department was available to provide information Saturday morning or afternoon.
LOS ANGELES >> Prosecutors filed federal charges this week against an alleged drug runner from West Covina after police found 1.25 pounds of methamphetamine and 28 guns in his house earlier this month, authorities said.
A federal complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles charges Edwin Francisco Reyes, 44, with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute,
Chino police investigators showed up with a search warrant on March 2 at home Reyes shares with his wife and four children on East Grovecenter Drive in West Covina, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. It was not clear Friday why the investigation was spearheaded by the Chino Police Department.
“During the search, officers with the Chino Police Department seized 532 grams — or nearly 19 ounces — of methamphetamine,” according to Mrozek.
Investigators also recovered a total of 28 guns, including six handguns and two AR-15-style rifles, were also seized from Reyes’ home. As a previously convicted felon, Reyes is barred from possession guns or ammunition.
According to the complaint, police also found a pistol silencer and a large amount of ammunition in the home.
“The affidavit alleges that Reyes admitted being involved in a drug trafficking ring as a runner who delivered drugs to buyers in exchange for cash,” Mrozek said. “On the day the search warrant was executed, according to the affidavit, Reyes admitted picking up five pounds of methamphetamine to deliver to Ontario.”
Reyes was being held in state custody Friday, but was expected to be turned over to federal custody next week.
If convicted as charged, Reyes faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, and a maximum penalty of life behind bars.
Reyes, who is currently in state custody, is expected to be handed over to federal authorities next week.
If he is convicted of the charge of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, Reyes would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.