WHITTIER >> A man beat a senior citizen unconscious and stole the victim’s car at knifepoint early Wednesday in the parking lot of a Whittier 99 Cents Only Store before being captured, police said.
Michael Echavarria, 27, of Whittier is accused of carjacking in connection with the 7:55 a.m. crime outside the store, 15345 Whittier Boulevard, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
A 67-year-old Whittier man arrived in the parking lot of the store and was exiting his car when Echavarria approached, White said.
“The victim said the suspect brandished a knife and then began to strike him in his head with his fist until he lost consciousness,” police said in a written statement. “When the victim came to, he noticed his vehicle — 2011 Toyota Yaris, red in color — was missing.”
Paramedics took the victim to a hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released by medical staff, White said.
The suspect and the victim’s car were gone when police responded to what was initially reported as fight, White said.
But an officers spotted the stolen Toyota about two hours later at Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue, he said.
Officers cautiously pulled over the car and took the driver, later identified as Echavarria, into custody, police said.
Police recovered a pocket knife from the suspect and were trying to confirm it was the same blade brandished at the carjacking victim, White said.
Echavarria was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, officials said.
WHITTIER >> A man died and a teenage girl was wounded after an argument led to a drive-by shooting early Sunday, police said.
Jose Duarte, 26, of Whittier, died at a hospital following the shooting, which took shortly after midnight along Lambert Road, just east of Sante Fe Springs Road, Whittier police Officer Bradley White said.
A 17-year-old Whittier girl also wounded in the shooting was expected to survive, he said.
Police said the two victims were walking east along a sidewalk when Duarte became involved in an argument with several other people who were across the street at a liquor store. The victims then continued walking east through a residential neighborhood.
“As the male and female victims continued to walk away from the location, the suspects drove past them and fired several shots at the victims,” police said in a written statement.
The gunfire struck Duarte in the chest, officials said. The teenage girl was shot in the back.
Paramedics took Duarte to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
“The suspect vehicle is believed to be a silver or gray sedan,” according to the police statement.
No description of the suspects themselves was available.
It was unclear what the argument that preceded the shooting was about, White said. Police were looking into the possibility the shooting was gang-related.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WHITTIER >> Police and a Whittier family are seeking two Grinches caught on camera stealing packages from the porch of a home earlier this week.
The crime took place shortly after 2 p.m. on Dittmar Drive, near Calmada Avenue, Whittier police Sgt. Terry McAllister said.
A home security camera caught the theft on video, which has received more than 83,000 views on Facebook.
The video shows a woman walking up to the home’s porch and helping herself to a stack of packages as a black pickup truck passes by slowly. The woman then tosses the stolen boxes into the bed of the pickup truck before hustling into the truck, which sped away.
A neighbor who witnessed the theft yelled from her home and asked the suspect what she was doing, but the thief ignored the neighbor and continued the crime, McAllister said. It was unclear exactly what was inside the stolen boxes.
Police described the thief as a white woman between 30 and 35 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and 140 pounds. She had brown hair with black streaks in it.
She fled in a black pickup truck similar to a 2005 Toyota, McAllister said. No description of the driver was available.
Package thefts tend to increase around the holiday season, and area police agencies have cautioned residents to be alert.
Police in West Covina offer several tips to avoid being victimized in the seasonal crime trend.
Residents are advised to call 9-1-1 immediately if they notice anyone following delivery trucks, officials said.
Authorities also suggested having packages sent where a person will be able to receive it, if possible; make arrangements with a neighbor to watch for deliveries and retrieve packages; require a signature for delivery; or have the delivery service hold packages for pick-up.
WHITTIER >> Police plan to screen drivers for sobriety and valid driver licenses Friday during a checkpoint in Whittier, officials said.
The Whittier Police Department will hold the checkpoint from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:20 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed four lives and resulted in 134 injury crashes harming 190 of our friends and neighbors,” Sgt. Rob Hanson said.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
WHITTIER >> Police are once again teaming with the Salvation Army to collect toys for needy local families, officials said.
Toy donations are being accepted through Dec. 10, Whittier police officials said in a written statement. Collection sites are at the Whittier Police Department, Whittier City Hall, Palm Park, Parnell Park, the Whittier Senior Center, the Whittier Community Center, the Whitwood Branch Library, and the Whittier Public Library.
Salvation Army officials are coordinating family sign-ups for the toy distribution for family’s in need of a helping hand this holiday season. The last day to sign up is Dec. 5. For more information, or to apply, contact Nadine Alvarez
The Salvation Army is coordinating family sign-ups for the distribution of toys. The last day to sign up is Wednesday, December 5th.To enroll, contact Nadine Alvarez of the Salvation Army at (562) 698-8348, extension 201.
Other questions can be directed t Whittier police Sgt. Kevin Ramos at 562-567-9272.
WHITTIER >> A brush fire broke out on a hillside neighboring Rose Hills Memorial Park and Cemetery Saturday, officials said.
The fire was first reported about 5 p.m. just to the east of the memorial park at 3888 Workman Mill Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said.
Firefighters on the ground were joined by three helicopters as they poured water onto the flames, Peters said.
The fire grew to 1-and-a-half acres before fighters declared it extinguished just over an hour after it began, officials said.
No injuries were reported.
MONTEBELLO >> A man turned himself in Tuesday in connection with a hit-and run crash that left a 28-year-old motorcyclist from Whittier dead over the weekend, officials said.
George Antonio Lopez-Chavira died following the crash, which took place about 4:45 p.m. Friday on Washington Boulevard, just west of Bluff Road, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Ed Winter said.
He was riding a motorcycle east along Washington Boulevard when he was struck from behind by a four-door car that fled the scene, Montebello police officials said in a written statement. The impact forced Lopez-Chavira’s motorcycle into a pole, and he succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Both vehicles were heading east at high speeds prior to the crash, police said.
The hit-and-run driver remained at-large until Tuesday, when Rafael Victor Morales, 35, of Whittier called the Montebello Police Department, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators from the Montebello Traffic Unit received a phone call from a male who stated that he was the driver investigators were looking for relating to the fatal traffic collision,” Montebello police said in a written statement.
“The suspect told investigators that he called to turn himself in because he felt pressured based on recent social media posts on both Twitter and Facebook from the Montebello Police Department,” the statement said. “Investigators responded to Whittier (Boulevard) and Ocean View (Avenue) in the city of Whittier where the suspect was waiting to turn himself in.”
Records indicate police arrested Morales at 5 p.m.
Police arrested Morales on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run, officials said.
He was behind the wheel of a Nissan Altima when he was involved in the fatal hit and run, Lt. Kelly Gordon said.
The manslaughter charge stems from alleged reckless driving on the part of Morales prior to the crash, the lieutenant said.
Morales and Lopez-Chavira did not know one another prior to the crash, she added.
According to booking records, Morales was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. He was scheduled to appear scheduled for arraignment Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
WHITTIER >> Police found a missing 15-year-old Whittier teen safe in Claremont Friday, officials said.
The boy was reported missing by worried family members Oct. 9 after he failed to show up at school after leaving his Uptown Whittier home, according to police and family members.
Detectives located the teen in Claremont, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“(The boy) said he got to Claremont using a bus and was staying with some people he met,” according to the statement. “He said he left because he didn’t want to stay at home anymore. He is in good condition.”
The teen and his family were reunited.
WHITTIER >> Prosecutors filed murder charges Friday against two alleged Pico Rivera gang members accused of fatally shooting a man as he took out the garbage at his Whittier home in broad daylight.
Jonathan Rojas, 34, died at a hospital following the Aug. 30 shooting at Washington Avenue and La Cuarta street, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials.
Anthony Michel Delci, 30, and Victor Marcus Arzate, 24, pleaded not guilty Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
Police described both suspects as members of the Pico Nuevo street gang.
Delci, Arzate and a teenager who has not been charged in the case drove past Rojas’ home about 12:10 p.m., investigators said. They stopped in front of a front of a group of people on the porch.
“Delci and Arzate yelled out their gang affiliation, flashed some gang signs and then drove off,” according to the Whittier police department statement.
“Delci and Arzate circled around and came back to the residence on Washington Avenue, Delci stopped his vehicle in front of the victim’s address and Arzate exited the vehicle and approached Rojas who was taking out the trash,” the statement said.
Arzate asked Rojas what gang he belong to, and Rojas responded he was not in a gang, the police statement said. “Arzate then fired a .357 revolver at Rojas, striking him several times.”
The two suspects and the teen then all fled in Delci’s Honda CRV SUV, officials said.
After identifying Delci’s SUV as the one used in the shooting, Delci was arrested later that night, police said. He had the alleged murder weapon with him. Arzate was arrested Sept. 5.
Prior to being charged with murder Friday, Delci was being held on suspicion of illegal gun possession, and Arzate was being held in connection with an alleged robbery, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford said. Arzate has also since been charged with illegal gun possession.
Prosecutors also allege the slaying was gang-related, that a firearm was used in the killing and that Delci personally used a gun in the crime.
If convicted as charged, Delci and Arzate could each face more than 50 years to life in state prison. They were scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Oct. 14 for a preliminary hearing setting. Bail has been set at more than $2 million each.
Prosecutors Thursday charged a Norwalk man the FBI has dubbed the “Cold Blooded Bandit” in connection with three bank robberies over the past two months in Whittier, South Gate and Norwalk, officials said.
Mario Marques LLanes, 27, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He was charged Thursday with three counts of robbery and three counts of commercial burglary for the alleged spree of bank heists, officials said.
Llanes turned himself in Monday to police in Whittier, where the most recent robbery occurred Sept. 17 at a Union Bank branch inside the Quad at Whittier shopping center, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.
The robber handed a teller a note demanding money before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash, Whittier police Cpl. Carlos Arroyo said at the time.
The serial bandit used similar tactics in the other robberies, which occurred July 7 at a Union Bank branch in South Gate and June 30 at a Union Bank branch in Llanes hometown of Norwalk, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The FBI nicknamed the serial bank robbery suspect the “Cold Blooded Bandit” prior to his arrest due to the heavy winter clothes he wore during the summertime robberies.
PHOTO: Mario Marques Llanes, 27, of Norwalk, is accused of being a serial bank robber the FBI has dubbed the “Cold Blooded Bandit,” linked to bank robberies in Whittier, South South Gate and Norwalk since late June. The bandit is pictured in this bank surveillance photo during a robbery at a Union Bank branch in Whittier on Sept. 17, 2014.
(Courtesy of the FBI)