Police plan pedestrian safety campaign Monday in West Covina

WEST COVINA — Police are planning an enforcement campaign targeting pedestrian safety issues Monday, officials said.
The pedestrian safety crackdown will take place at several undisclosed West Covina intersections throughout West Covina, West Covina police spokesman Rudy Lopez said.
It will target both drivers and pedestrians who violate traffic laws, he added.

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Robbery suspect fatally shot by deputies after chase from Walnut to West Covina

Deputies shot and killed a robbery suspect Thursday following a pursuit from Walnut to West Covina, authorities said.
The identity of the man who died in the 5:15 p.m. deputy-involved shooting in the 19100 block of Elberland Street remained unclear late Thursday as detectives continued investigating multiple scenes Thursday night.
The incident began shortly before 5 p.m. when a man called 9-1-1 to report an apparent home-invasion robbery in the area of Lemon Avenue and Amar Road in Walnut, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
“A man said his mother was having money demanded from her,” Jauch said. The caller reported the man was armed with a handgun, and that a black car was parked in front of the home.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut Station responded to the alleged robbery.
“As they neared the residence, a black vehicle matching the suspect description heads at them at a high rate of speed,” Jauch said. Deputies began chasing the car, which they later learned was occupied by a woman and a 5-year-old girl, in addition to the suspect.
The chase led to the parking lot of the Bestway Supermarket, 19050 La Puente Road, officials said, where the fleeing car crashed into a truck, destroying one of its tires.
The suspect got out of the car and ran in the front of the market and out of the back, Jauch said.
Deputies detained the woman in the parking lot and took the child into protective custody.
The man fled east into a nearby neighborhood, making his way through residential backyards, according to Jauch.
When the suspect encountered deputies in the back yard of a home at the corner of Elberland Street and Abelian Avenue, “a deputy-involved shooting occurred,” the lieutenant said. Further details regarding what prompted deputies to open fire were not clear.
More than one deputy was involved in the shooting, Jauch said, however the number of involved deputies was not available.
No weapon had been recovered from the scene late Thursday, he said, though deputies continued scouring the area and the pursuit route.
The woman detained at the end of the pursuit was considered criminal suspect, however it was not yet known exactly what crimes she was to be booked on suspicion of, Jauch said. Her name was not released.
The relationship between the man, woman and child was also unclear.
Nearby residents said they saw a group of deputies converge on the neighborhood from several directions just prior to the shooting.
Eugenia Montiel said as deputies approached the home, she saw a shirtless man come walking, not running, out of the backyard before apparently being chased back into the yard by deputies and cornered.
She then heard a string of gunshots in rapid succession, and saw the flash from the barrels of deputy’s pistols.
“I told my daughter, ‘Get down on the floor,’” she said.
Estimated given by neighbors of the number of shots they heard ranged from half a dozen to 18.
The investigation is being handled by detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

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Parolee, passenger jailed after high-speed chase from West Covina to El Monte

A man and woman from El Monte were behind bars Saturday after leading West Covina police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car during which the driver rammed a police car, authorities said.
Driver and parolee William Paul East, 30, was booked on suspicion of auto theft, driving a stolen car, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer and felony evading of police following the pursuit, which began about 11:10 p.m. Friday in West Covina before officers stopped it with a PIT maneuver in El Monte, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
His passenger, 32-year-old Jenny Anne Lao, was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine, the lieutenant said.
East was being held without bail and was scheduled to appear in West Covina Superior Court Feb. 20, according to county booking records. He was already being sought for absconding from parole supervision when the chase took place, officials said.
Lao was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail and was scheduled to appear Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
The incident began when a man called police to report seeing his compact Toyota sedan, which had been stolen in El Monte, driving through West Covina, Patton said.
“He happened to come across his vehicle and notified West Covina police,” he said. It was not immediately clear when the car had been stolen.
The caller directed police toward where he had spotted his stolen car, and officers caught up with it in the area of Valinda Avenue and Maplegrove Street, on the western border of West Covina, Patton said.
“Officers proceeded to attempt to stop the vehicle, when the vehicle abruptly fled at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated,” Patton said.
The fleeing car led officers along side streets before getting onto the westbound 10 Freeway, where it reached 105 mph, he said.
As the car exited at Peck Road, East lost control and the Toyota spun out, Patton said. Lao got out of the car and fled on foot, but was quickly apprehended. East continued fleeing in the car.
Police continued chasing the car south on Peck Road until it crashed into a car parked in a used car lot at Peck Road and Valley Boulevard, Patton said.
“After that impact with a parked vehicle at the auto dealership, the driver put the vehicle into reverse and intentionally rammed a police vehicle,” he said. The officer was not injured, and the damage appeared minor.
When East tried to continue driving, officers used a PIT maneuver to bring the chase to an end, according to Patton. East then surrendered.

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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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Unwanted guns collected at West Covina’s first buyback program

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WEST COVINA — Police collected an exotic arsenal of unwanted weapons Saturday during the West Covina Police Department’s first-ever gun buyback program.
From pocket pistols to a World War II-era Japanese sniper rifle, police traded $50 Target gift cards for each unwanted weapon dropped off at the police station by area residents, no questions asked.
“It’s totally anonymous and it’s up to the residents,” West Covina police Cmdr. Richard Bell said.
The event offered area residents an opportunity to safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted guns that may be collecting dust in the back of a closet, Bell explained. And if unwanted guns are disposed of, they cannot fall into the wrong hands and be used in a crime.
“In the first hour, we had 22 guns turned in,” he said.
By the end of the five-hour collection event, officers had collected a total of 44 guns — 24 handguns and 20 rifles.
Participants were advised to bring their weapons unloaded and in the trunks of their vehicles as they entered the parking lot of the police station through a designated driveway.
Within a matter of a few minutes, police checked to make sure the guns were unloaded, stowed them away, and sent the participants on their way with gift cards in-hand.
One West Covina man who did not wish to give his name during the anonymous event dropped of five .22-caliber rifles.
“I had these old rifles sitting in the garage. I figured this was a good time to get rid of them,” he said.
Weapons turned in included World War II-era M-1 rifle, an 1894 Remington shotgun and dozens of other handguns and long guns, as well as some ammunition.
If weapons of historical value are turned in, they may be given to a museum rather than destroyed, officials said.
Elizabeth Ramos, 80, of Covina brought in a .22-caliber rifle with an unusual story that she had stored for more than 30 years.
Ramos said her son found the rifle underwater while SCUBA diving off the coast of Catalina as a young man in the late 1970s. He cleaned and polished the weapon, but never fired it.
When she heard about West Covina’s gun buyback, Ramos decided it was time for the old firearm to go.
And with the gift card she received in exchange, she added she was off to get some new bedroom slippers.
Ramos said she supported the idea of the gun buyback.
“There’s too much crime right now,” she said. “We need to take care of our youth. We’re getting too many guns.”

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West Covina restaurant robbed

WEST COVINA — Two robbers fled with a little more than $200 after robbing a Carrows restaurant late Thursday, officials said.
The two men entered the restaurant, 101 S. Azusa Avenue, just before 8 p.m., West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
One of them motioned as if he had a gun in his pocket as the robbers demanded cash, however no weapon was seen, he said.
They were last seen running west from the restaurant, the lieutenant added.
Both robbers were Latino men in their 30s or 40s, Cirrito said. One had a shaved head and wore a gray sweat shirt and a black cap. The other had short hair and wore a black sweat shirt and jeans.

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Motorcycle deputy hurt in 10 Freeway crash

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WEST COVINA – A motorcycle deputy suffered injuries Thursday in a crash that snarled the afternoon commute through the San Gabriel Valley, officials said.
The crash took place just after 3 p.m. on the eastbound 10 Freeway, just east of Puente Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Boese said.
The deputy was on his way home from work at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and riding in the No. 2 lane just prior to the crash, California Highway Patrol Officer Jaime Rosas said. A Ford Expedition SUV being driven by a West Covina woman in her 30s was eastbound in the No. 1 lane.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by the CHP, however the SUV began to merge toward the right when the two vehicles collided, according to Boese and Rosas.
“That caused the deputy to fall off his motorcycle and land in traffic lanes,” Boese said.
The dazed deputy radioed in the crash, Rosas said, prompting a massive response from rescuers fearing the worst.
A Metro Freeway Service Patrol crew happened to be just behind the crash and helped the injured deputy reach the side of the road, Boese said.
Paramedics took the deputy to hospital for examination and treatment, Rosas said.
The woman at the wheel of the SUV was not injured, officials added. She remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
The deputy’s motorcycle continued travelling without a rider for about 100 feet before crashing into a chain-link fence along the right shoulder,
Officials briefly shut down the three right lanes of the eastbound 10 Freeway following the crash, causing traffic to back up past the 605 Freeway.

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Fire scorches West Covina home

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WEST COVINA — A fire blamed on a roofing mishap damaged a West Covina home and displaced the family that lived inside it Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
No injuries were reported in the fire, which broke out about 1:15 p.m. and scorched a two-story home in the 1000 block of West Puente Avenue, just west of Vincent Avenue, West Covina Fire Department Chief Rick Genovese said.
Officials estimated the damage to the home and it’s contents at more than $100,000, however the residents all escaped unharmed, the chief said.
A resident was carrying out roofing work on an eve between the first and second floors when the fire ignited, Genovese said.
“He was using a propane torch to heat up roofing material,” he said. “It appears at this point the insulation caught first.”
Genovese said the resident ripped up shingles and attempted to extinguish the fire himself, but called 9-1-1 as it continued to spread through the roof of the home and into the walls.
The man, along with his wife and children, had gotten out of the burning home before firefighters arrived, which was within four minutes of the initial 9-1-1 call, Genovese said.
The Red Cross was summoned to help the displaced family find temporary lodging, he added. The families pet dogs appeared to have run off during the commotion, but were not believed to have been injured in the fire.

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80-year-old man fatally struck by pickup truck in West Covina

WEST COVINA — An elderly West Covina man died late Thursday after he was struck by a pickup truck while crossing Hollenbeck Avenue, officials said.
The man, initially described as 80 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 9:10 p.m. collision at Hollenbeck Avenue at Garvey Avenue South, West Covina police Lt. Pat Cirrito said.
He was walking west across the street within a crosswalk when he was struck by a southbound pickup truck, the lieutenant said.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation, however the driver of the truck remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators, Cirrito said.

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UPDATED: Man accused of unprovoked attack on gardener in West Covina

WEST COVINA — Police, aided by a news reading tipster, arrested a transient who struck a gardener in the head with a rock in an unprovoked attack Friday, officials said.
Andrew Lopez, a 24-year-old transients known to frequent the West Covina area, was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the alleged assault with a deadly weapon, which took place about 10 a.m. at Amar Road and Woodgate Drive, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A landscaper was using a leaf blower when he spotted another man out of the corner of his eye, Patton said.
“Without provocation or any exchange of words, the subject throws a rock at him, striking him in the area of his forehead,” the lieutenant said.
The gardener suffered a half-inch cut but declined to be hospitalized via ambulance, Patton said. He was taken by his employer for medical treatment.
The suspect was not found when police searched the area, but the gardener was able to provide officers with a detailed description of the attacker.
A local apartment manager saw the attacker’s description in a report on the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s website and recognized him as a man who had just been in the area, Patton said.
Officers responded to the area where the tipster reported last seeing the man and found him in the area, Patton said. He was detained without a struggle, and arrested once identified by the gardener as his attacker.
Based on the unprovoked violence exhibited by the suspect, Patton said police were relieved to have him in custody before he potentially injured someone else.
A motive in the alleged attack was not clear.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Lopez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail at the West Covina Police Department’s jail Friday pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

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