WEST COVINA — A woman was flown to the hospital with major head injuries after being attacked by three male assailants inside an Amar Road liquor store, authorities said.
Rescuers flew the injured woman, who was in her 50s, to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by helicopter following the incident, which was reported at 1:37 p.m. at Chantry’s Pantry Liquor, 1005 Amar Road, according to West Covina police and fire officials.
Though the woman’s condition initially appeared critical, she was ultimately listed in stable condition at the hospital, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Officials first responded to what was reported as a vehicle striking a pedestrian at 1:37 p.m. in the 1000 block of Amar Road, near Valinda Avenue, West Covina Fire Department Capt. Mike Fountain said.
But on arrival, they found the woman inside a liquor store with a head injury more consistent with “a possibly assault with a blunt object of some sort,” the captain said. She was found just inside the door of the business.
Though conscious when firefighters first arrives, her condition appeared to be deteriorating and she was slipping in and out of consciousness, officials said.
Investigation revealed the woman had been assaulted by three attackers, initially described only as male and Latino, Patton said.
“Apparently, a verbal confrontation took place between the victim and the suspects, which escalated into the physical assault,” Patton said. It was unclear what the woman was struck with.
The investigation was ongoing, he added, and it was not immediately clear if the liquor store was equipped with surveillance cameras which may prove useful to detectives.
Anyone with information can reach West Covina police at 626-939-8500.
Deputies arrested a man Thursday following a series of five baseball bat robberies at San Gabriel Valley convenience stores in matter of hours, authorities said.
Malcom Buchanan, 19, of Duarte was booked in connection with the final robbery in Thursday’s spree at a gas station in unincorporated East Pasadena as officials continued investigating him in connection with the other four robberies, police and sheriff’s officials said.
While a concrete link had not been established Thursday afternoon, ““They’re definitely looking into it,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Ignacio Somoano said.
The string of robberies began shortly after midnight at a 7-Eleven store in San Dimas, investigators said. Similar robberies and attempted robberies were then reported in West Covina, Monrovia, Arcadia and unincorporated Pasadena before deputies spotted a car matching the description of one used in at least one of the robberies was spotted, stopped and arrested by deputies from the sheriff’s Temple Station in Duarte, sheriff’s Sgt. Lynette O’Brien said.
Sgt. Pete Shupe of the sheriff’s San Dimas station said masked robber entered the 7-Eleven at 660 E. Foothill Blvd. at 12:11 a.m.
He found a clerk working in a back stockroom, Lt. Andy Berg said.
The bat-wielding robber ordered the clerk to the front of the store and demanded cash from the register, officials said.
When the clerk opened the register, he said the robber reached in, took $200 and fled the store.
About half an hour later, a masked man lugging a baseball bat then showed up at the 7-Eleven at 1319 W. Merced Ave. in West Covina around 12:42 a.m.
“He told the clerk ‘Give me the money’ while holding the bat threateningly,” West Covina Police Lt. David Lee said.
The robber grabbed about $350 from the till and left.
Lee said the suspect was last seen in a white vehicle, possibly a van or a sport utility vehicle. A second suspect was driving the vehicle.
The robber was described as possibly Latino, around 5 feet 5 inches tall and about 150 pounds.
In the San Dimas case, the robber wore a gray jacket, officials said.
Initial investigation indicated the same robber was involved in both crimes, Berg said.
Nearly 11 hours passed before three more incidents of convenience store robberies involving a suspect armed with a baseball bat were reported.
Monrovia police responded to a report of a similar robbery about 11:25 a.m. at 7-Eleven, 922 W. Duarte Road, officials said. Again, the robber brandished a baseball bat during the crime.
A witness to the Monrovia crime was able to provide police with a description and license plate of the getaway car, which was immediately broadcast to nearby law enforcement agencies.
Another attempted heist involving a baseball bat wielding suspect occurred minutes later at a liquor store in the 800 block of West Huntington Drive in Arcadia, Arcadia police Lt. Tom Cullen said.
It was unclear what caused him to abandon the robbery attempt and flee empty-handed.
Minutes after the Arcadia crime, a man with a baseball bat arrived at a gas station at Colorado Boulevard and Michillinda Avenue in an unincorporated county area east of Pasadena, O’Brien said.
A witness provided investigators with the license plate number of the getaway car, and deputies spotted the vehicle
Deputies searching the area spotted the vehicle and pulled it over on Bashor Street near Vineyard Avenue in Duarte about noon.
There was no description of a second robber who may have partnered with the suspect in at least some of the alleged crimes.
The robbery in San Dimas capped off a particularly unfortunate month for the convenience store.
It was the third incident at the store in recent weeks, which has also experienced another robbery, as well as a car crashing through the front window, officials said. The same clerk was working during all three incidents.
A man brandished a pistol in a robbery at the store on May 14, Berg said. He was described as black, 25 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 160 pounds, investigators said. He wore a dark green hooded sweatshirt and black pants.
A car Sunday smashed through the front window of the Foothill Boulevard convenience store, officials said.
No crime was suspected in connection with the crash, in which a 50-year-old San Dimas man’s 1990 Honda Accord struck the store after his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator, Sgt. Victor Ibarra said.
- Staff writers Ruby Gonzales and Melissa Pinion-Whit contributed to this report.
WEST COVINA — A man who robbed a Denny’s restaurant at knifepoint Sunday was found and arrested while trying to blend in with the crowd at a nearby motel swimming pool, authorities said.
The robbery was reported about 12:30 p.m. at the restaurant, 132 N. Grand Ave., West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The suspect brandished a knife as he demanded cash from the register, the lieutenant said. He fled with an undetermined amount of cash, but was spotted entering a nearby Best Western motel.
“He was followed by a witness to the crime, who alerted West Covina police,” Patton said. Officers set up a search perimeter.
“After an extensive search, the suspect was located trying to blend in with a crowd of people at the pool,” he said. The man was arrested without a struggle.
The suspect’s name was not immediately available pending booking.
WEST COVINA — Firefighters rescued and found temporary homes for two 2-week-old kittens that had become trapped inside the wall of a home Sunday, officials said.
Firefighters received a call just after noon from a resident reporting what sounded like an animal trapped inside the wall of a fourplex in the 2400 block of Gehrig Street, West Covina Fire Department Capt. Esteban Rodriguez said.
Using a thermal imaging camera designed to hunt for hot spots during fires, firefighters were able to locate the kittens within the wall of the home via their body heat, Rodriguez said.
Firefighters cut two holes in the wall to retrieve the animals, in a process that took nearly an hour, he said. The homeowner was supportive of the rescue effort.
“They were tucked in the wall,” the captain said. “They didn’t want to come out.”
After liberating the trapped kittens, firefighters contacted animal control officials but were told that because of the young age of the kittens, they would likely have to be euthanized, Rodriguez said.
“We decided to adopt them ourselves for the meantime,” he said.
Firefighters went to a PetSmart store in West Covina to buy kitten food and discovered that, coincidentally, a cat rescue organization called Cats At The Studios was holding a cat adoption event in the parking lot.
Representatives from CATS agreed to care for the kittens until they could be adopted into permanent homes, Rodriguez said. The organization christened the kittens “flame” and “cinder,” in honor of their rescuers.
Though apparently undernourished, “They appear to be healthy,” the captain said.
Once mature enough, CATS planned to adopt flame and cinder to a permanent home.
Those interested in adopting the rescued kittens can contact Adrianna of CATS at 626-532-2677. Information on CATS is also available on the organization’s website at www.catsatthestudios.com.
PHOTO courtesy of the West Covina Fire Department
WEST COVINA — A West Covina man is believed to have been high on PCP when he fled the scene of a minor traffic collision late Saturday, authorities said.
Morgan Hernandez, 42, was booked on suspicion of hit-and-run, driving under the influence of PCP and possession of PCP following the 9:-04 p.m. crash at
Osborne and Eckerman avenues, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
A woman reported Hernandez had crashed into her vehicle with his own and driven off, the lieutenant said. She was not hurt.
Officers found Hernandez and his car a short time later nearby at Vincent and Puente avenues, Patton said.
“The suspect displayed symptoms consistent with PCP intoxication,” he said. A small vial containing suspected PCP was also recovered.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Hernandez remained jailed Sunday in lieu of $25,000 bail at the West Covina Police Department’s jail. He was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
Deputies looking for suspects in an earlier pursuit arrested one man and found about 10 pounds of methamphetamine in a pickup the culprits abandoned Wednesday, authorities said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Enriquez said the narcotics unit told patrol deputies about a suspect vehicle containing a large quantity of narcotics. Deputies spotted the vehicle, a Ford F-150, on Gale Avenue around 4:45 p.m.
The driver was seen making several traffic violations, Enriquez said. Deputies tried to pull over the pickup but the driver didn’t stop.
The suspects pulled into a gas station at Azusa and Temple avenues. Enriquez said the driver used the pickup to push another occupied vehicle.
At Valinda and Merced avenues, he said the pickup sped up to 70 mph. Enriquez cancelled the chase because it could be dangerous to the public.
The pickup truck headed to West Covina, where it was abandoned on Gaybar Avenue. The two suspects ran.
Enriquez said one of the suspects, a man in his 20s, was arrested in the area on suspicion of possessing narcotics for sale and assault with a deadly weapon.
The estimated street value of the seized methamphetamine is well over $40,000, officials added.
Investigators did not release the suspect’s name Thursday , citing the ongoing investigation and search for the second suspect.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
WEST COVINA — A man who used handsaws to cut both his arms to the bone last week inside a Home Depot is expected to survive and retain his arms, authorities said.
The man, whose identity was not released because he is not a criminal suspect, was described as being in late 30s or early 40s, West Covina police officials said.
But a week after the bizarre and grisly incident, investigators still did not know why the man entered the hardware store, picked up coping saws and began sawing through his own arms, Lt. Jerry Pearman said.
The incident, which is being treated as an attempted suicide, was reported about 12:20 p.m. April 19 at the Home Depot, 2220 S. Azusa Avenue, officials said.
Witnesses did not report hearing or seeing anything unusual before they noticed the man pick up coping saws, a total of three, and start cutting into his flesh, Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.
Though initially hospitalized with extremely serious injuries, the wounded man had since been stabilized, Pearman said. It also appeared that doctors had been successful in reattaching his arms.
He was expected to be sent for psychiatric evaluation once released from the hospital, Pearman added. It was not clear Wednesday whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the incident.
Off-duty Pasadena Fire Department Capt. Art Hurtado, who happened to be at the store, rushed to the man’s aid, officials said.
His quick response likely prevented even more serious injury or death, Pearman said.
A West Covina man is accused of cultivation of marijuana after authorities discovered about 400 plants growing inside two business suites which investigators said were a front for the pot-growing operation.
Jose Angel Marquez, 29, was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana following his arrest, which took place just after midnight, according to Glendora police and Los Angeles County booking records.
Officers carrying out a narcotics investigation spotted Marquez driving away from the nondescript business suites late Wednesday and pulled him over, Glendora police Lt. Brian Summers said.
Officers found a small amount of marijuana in his possession, but returned to the adjacent businesses a short time later with a search warrant, the lieutenant said.
“Over 400 marijuana plants in various stages of maturity were recovered, along with other materials used to cultivate the plants,” Police said in the written statement.
Had the plants all been allowed to mature, the value of the marijuana could be as high as $350,000, Summer said.
“The investigation revealed Marquez was using the business suites as a front for marijuana cultivation,” according to the police statement.
Officials were also summoned to the scene to look into potential code violations or hazards at the businesses, police added.
According to county booking records, Marquez was released from jail Thursday morning pending his initial court appearance after posting $100,000 bail.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Arcadia Police Department
WEST COVINA — A man who showed up at a West Covina emergency room with a toy gun and threatened to shoot people Friday was taken for psychiatric evaluation, authorities said.
The incident took place about 5 p.m. at Citrus Valley Health Partners – Queen of the Valley Campus, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Carrying what was later determined to be a toy handgun, “he indicated he was going to shoot people in the emergency room,” the lieutenant said.
“We just happened to have police personnel there with a prisoner on an unrelated matter, so they were able to take action swiftly,” he said. The man, who was estimated to be in his 40s, was taken into custody without a struggle.
Officials placed the man on a 72-hour hold for psychiatric evaluation.
WEST COVINA — A fight led to a shooting at Cortez Park Friday afternoon, however no gunshot victims were found, police said.
Police received “numerous calls of shots fired” at the north end of the park, along Citrus Street just north of Cortez Street, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The gunshots rang out during a fight involving six or seven men, the lieutenant said.
“All the involved parties dispersed prior to our arrival,” he said. But officers did locate evidence a shooting had occurred, such as bullet casings.
“As of this time, we don’t know if anybody was hit,” Patton said Saturday. A check of local hospitals turned up no gunshot victims.
The men involved in the fight were believed to have left the area in a white car and a silver pickup truck, police added.
Detectives were looking into the possibility that a car found later in the day in San Bernardino may have been involved in the incident, Patton said, however the investigation was ongoing.