Police plan checkpoint in Whittier

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.

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Whittier police, Salvation Army host holiday toy drive

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.

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Brush fire ignites near Rose Hills in Whittier

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.

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UPDATED: Whittier man turns self in following fatal Montebello hit-and-run

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.

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UPDATE: Missing Whittier teen found safe in Claremont

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.

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Alleged Pico Rivera gang members charged with fatal shooting of Whittier man in front of his home

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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.

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Norwalk man charged with series of bank robberies in Whittier, South Gate, Norwalk

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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)

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Serial bank robber dubbed ‘Cold Blooded Bandit’ pulls 3rd heist in Whittier

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WHITTIER >> A serial bank robber the FBI is calling the “Cold Blooded Bandit” carried out his third heist Wednesday at a bank branch inside a Whittier supermarket, authorities said.
The serial robber, who was given his nickname due to the heavy winter clothing he has worn during his summertime heists, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The robber operated by passing notes demanding money to bank tellers, she said.
“In his demand notes, he indicates a partner is outside watching to intimidate the tellers,” Eimiller said.
Officials said the Cold Blooded Bandit’s most recent caper took place Wednesday afternoon at a Whittier Union Bank branch inside of a Ralphs grocery store, 8510 Painter Avenue.
Whittier police Cpl. Carlos Arroyo said the a man approached a teller just after 4:30 and displayed a demand note.
The teller complied and handed over an undisclosed amount of money, Arroyo said. He was last seen fleeing the area on foot. No weapon was seen.
0920_NWS_WDN-L-COLDBLOOD4The Cold Blooded bandit previously robbed a Union Bank branch on Garfield Avenue in South Gate on July 7, as well as a Union Bank branch on South Street in Norwalk on June 30, Eimiller said.
In the first crime in Norwalk, the bandit left behind a “hoax device” before fleeing, “presumably to threaten an explosion,” Eimiller said. A description of the hoax device was not available Friday.
The FBI described the serial bandit as white or Latino, between 21 and 28 years old, between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds.
In the most recent robbery in Whittier, witnesses reported the robber had tattoos on his arms and on the left side of his neck.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI’s Los Angeles Division at 310-477-6565.

PHOTOS taken from bank surveillance cameras courtesy of the FBI.

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Police plan checkpoint Friday in Whittier

WHITTIER >> Police are planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint late Friday, officials said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location with Whittier, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Over the past three years in Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, four people have died and 167 people have been injured in DUI-related crashes, according to Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson.
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Driver sentenced for fatal hit-and-run of senior citizen in Uptown Whittier

WHITTIER >> A man received a two-year prison sentenced Thursday in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 69-year-old Whittier man in Uptown Whittier.
Isaiah Storey, 25, of Whittier pleaded “no contest” last month to a felony charge of hit-and-run and a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter for the Oct. 21, 2013, death of Gregory Reyes.
Norwalk Superior Court Judge Lori Ann Fournier sentenced him Thursday to two years in state prison, and ordered him to pay $12,400 in restitution to Reyes’ family, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
The fatal collision occurred about 6:40 p.m. as Reyes was using his walker as he crossed Greenleaf Avenue, just south of Philadelphia Avenue, according to district attorney’s officials and Whittier Police Department investigators. Reyes was within a crosswalk when he was struck by a Merdedes-Benz SUV being driven by Storey.
“The car slowed down for a brief moment, but then continued going,” Ardalani said.
Rescuers rushed Reyes to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries three days later, officials said.
Storey was promptly arrested after police found is damaged SUV abandoned nearby in the area of Greenleaf Avenue and Hadley Street, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said.
Reyes, who had been free on bail before and during the trial process, was taken into custody at Thursday’s sentencing hearing to begin serving his sentenced, according to county booking records.

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