16 cited, 2 arrested at Whittier police checkpoint

WHITTIER >> Police issued 16 citations and arrested two people with active warrants during a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in Whittier over the weekend, officials said.
The checkpoint was held Friday night into Saturday morning at Lambert Road and Scott Avenue, Whittier Police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Two drivers were given field sobriety tests, however no arrests for intoxicated driving were made, the lieutenant said.
Slightly more than 950 vehicles were screened at the checkpoint, he said.
Officers issued five tickets to unlicensed drivers, two tickets to people driving on suspended licenses and nine other citations for various violations, Ellis said.
The two vehicles being operated by the drivers with suspended licenses were impounded, Ellis said.
The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Police plan checkpoint in Whittier

WHITTIER — Police plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during a checkpoint late Friday in Whittier, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson 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 4 lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Hanson said.
Checkpoints have been shown to be effective in deterring DUI, he added.
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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Shooting suspect remains at large following stand-off at South Whittier apartment complex

SOUTH WHITTIER — A shooting suspect who was believed holed-up inside a South Whittier apartment remained at large late Saturday after a SWAT team forced their way into the home following a five-hour stand-off and did not find the man, authorities said.
The incident began about 3:15 p.m. when deputies received several 9-1-1 calls reporting a man was shooting at someone in a strip mall parking lot in the 15600 block of Leffingwell Road, in an unincorporated county area south of Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
The victim did not report the shooting and did not turn up at any local hospitals, Navares said. It was not known whether he was struck by the gunfire.
Navares said the shooter drove a car next door to an apartment complex, where he was seen running into an apartment, the sergeant said.
Deputies surrounded the apartment and summoned a SWAT team, he said. Officials ordered anyone inside the apartment to come out with no response. The SWAT team entered the apartment about 9 p.m., finding no one inside.
The name of the suspect, a man in his mid-30s, was known to investigators but not released Saturday.
The suspect’s car was taken as evidence, Navares said.

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Hundreds flock to Whittier park for @hiddencash scavenger hunt

"7-10-14 FATALCRASH10"

WHITTIER >> The philanthropic social media phenomenon known as @hiddencash surfaced at a Whittier park Thursday night, where hundreds of people showed up to take part in a scavenger hunt by flashlight.
Secluded Penn Park became the latest scene of the Twitter-fueled frenzy after the @hiddencash Twitter account first gave clues to the location where Pez candy dispensers stuffed with cash had been hidden. A handful of treasure hunters who solved the clues arrived first at the secluded park, followed by hundreds more when @hiddencash announced the park by name about 9:30 p.m.
Twenty-five Pez dispensers were hidden at the park, along with two boxes of Pez dispensers, according to @hiddencash.
The candy dispensers contained $40 to $50, while the bonus boxes included $100.
Vanessa Garcia, 26, of Whittier found a Pez dispenser containing $40.
“I’ve never seen so many people here, especially at night,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Garcia’s sister, 22-year-old Alejandra Garcia of Whittier, found one of the bonus boxes.
Alejandra Garcia said she had not yet decided what to do with her newly-found $100. “I haven’t thought about it,” she said.
Kim Vaughn, 43, of Whittier said she was thrilled the scavenger hunt was being held in her town. She searched Penn Park with her husband and children.
“We’ve been following (@hiddencash) all along, just waiting for one nearby,” Vaughn said.
Some searchers brought large flashlights with them. Others searched by the light of their cell phones.
Additionally, @hiddencash tweeted late Thursday that additional loose bills had been hidden along Greenleaf Avenue in Uptown Whittier.
The cash seekers took it in stride when the park sprinklers turned on midway through the event.
“Sorry about the sprinklers! Didn’t plan that,” @hiddencash tweeted.
And while the atmosphere was festive, not everyone was thrilled with the large event at the park in a residential neighborhood, accessible only by one street. Traffic became gridlocked along Penn Street during the scavenger hunt.
“This is awful,” Anthony Nerlino, 26, of Whittier said as people climbed through bushes, next to signs advising visitors to stay out of the shrubbery.
“How much is it going to cost to fix that,” Nerlino said.
Police dealt with large crowds and traffic due to the event, but no major incidents were reported, Whittier police Capt. Aviv Bar said. The park was to be checked in the morning for any possible damage.
Another money drop, this time in Orange County, was to be announced at 10 a.m. Friday, according to @hiddencash.

PHOTO by Keith Durflinger – GALLERY

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Whittier police launch motorcycle safety enforcement campaign

The Whittier Police Department had begun a month-long extra enforcement campaign aimed at improving motorcycle safety and reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused motorcycle crashes, officials said.
Throughout July, extra officers will be on patrol, focusing their efforts on areas frequented by motorcycles and where motorcycle crashes are known to occur, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers and riders alike that can lead to motorcycle crashes,” according to the statement. “ They will be cracking down on both those operating regular vehicles and motorcycles that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, making illegal turns or any other dangerous violation.”
In Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, five fatal motorcycle crashes and 87 injury motorcycle crashes have occurred withint the past three years, officials said.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Suspect arrested after 6-hour stand-off in South Whittier

A SWAT team used tear gas early Friday to end a six-hour standoff at a South Whittier home with a man brandishing what ultimately turned out to be a pellet gun, authorities said.
Adam William Samarin, 23, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he was taken into custody shortly before 3 a.m. at his home in the 9200 block of Laurel Avenue, just north of Mulberry Drive, in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Deputies responded to a report of a family disturbance involving an armed man about 8:45 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Samarin had become involved in an argument with his mother, who left the home when he retrieved what appeared to be a rifle, Lt. Eric Smitson said.
Samarin, who was alone at the home when deputies arrived, pointed the rifle at deputies on the ground as well as deputies hovering above in a helicopter before holing up inside the home and refusing orders to come out.
The Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, or SWAT team, responded to the scene, as well as a sheriff’s K-9 and a crisis negotiator, officials said.
Deputies evacuated neighboring homes and advised others nearby via helicopter loudspeaker to stay inside and lock their doors.
Deputies fired tear gas into the home shortly before 3 a.m., prompting Samarin to jump or fall out a window of the home, Smitson said. He was taken into custody with the help of the K-9.
A pellet rifle and an “airsoft” gun designed to shoot larger, plastic BBs was recovered from the home, Smitson said.
Samarin was treated for dog bites and injuries he suffered while tumbling out of the window before being booked into jail, officials said.
According to county booking records, Samarin was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.

- Jason Henry and Brian Day

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Man beaten during Whittier robbery

WHITTIER — A group of men attacked and robbed another man Tuesday evening along Pickering Avenue in Whittier, police said.
The crime took place about 7 p.m. at Pickering Avenue and Pacific Place, but was not reported until about half an hour later when the victim arrived home and called police, Whittier Police Lt. Steve Dean said.
The victim was walking when he passed by a group of men who were drinking in some bushes, the lieutenant said. The called out to him to come over as he passed, but he ignored them.
Three of the four suspects ran over to the victim, a 23-year-old Whittier man, and began beating him with their fists, Dean said. The fourth suspect apparently acted as a lookout.
While the victim was on the ground, the attackers grabbed his wallet from his pocket, emptied it of cash and dropped the rest on the ground.
The attackers fled when the lookout announced it was , “Time to go,” Dean said.
The victim declined to be taken to a hospital for treatment, he added.
Police described all four suspects as Latino men. The three attackers were about 5 feet 6 inches tall and of thin build. Two of them were in their mid-20s, while the third was in his late-teens.
A detailed description of the fourth suspect was not available.

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UPDATED: Police investigate suspicious circumstances at Whittier apartment

WHITTIER — Suspicious circumstances at an Uptown Whittier apartment drew a large police response Sunday, but investigators found no initial evidence of a crime, officials said.
Officers first responded to the apartment in the 6500 block of Pickering Avenue Saturday afternoon after neighbors reported they had not seen the resident in about a week, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. The neighbors added that the woman had been involved in an argument with a man about a week ago.
Police found that the apartment had been somewhat “fortified,” with its windows boarded up. The resident’s car remained parked outside, and officers noted a strange smell.
A SWAT team and bomb squad responded as a precaution as the investigation continued Sunday morning. Ellis said. Officials searched the apartment and found no signs of foul play.
“It’s still something that’s very unusual,” Ellis said.
But the woman was not officially considered a missing person, as no one close to her, such as a friend or family member, had reported her missing.
“We’re following up and trying to locate the individuals who rent that location,” Ellis said.

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Officials: Man stabs three family members in South Whittier

A man stabbed his father, mother and sister during an argument at a South Whittier home late Saturday before ultimately surrendering to a SWAT team, authorities said.
All three victims are expected to survive the injuries they suffered in the attack, which took place about 8:30 p.m. at the family home in the 14100 block of Mystic Street, in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Alexander Michael, 34, is believed to be high on drugs when he began arguing with family members, officials said.
“According to the victims, the suspect began stabbing his father several times,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “When the mother and the sister tried to intervene, an attempt to stop the assault, they too sustained several stab wounds.”
The father suffered several stab wounds to his upper torso, Lt. Jason Skeen said. The women’s injuries were described as more superficial slash wounds.
Michael fled into a backyard shed following while still clutching a knife and refused deputies’ orders to come out, officials said.
After a SWAT team was summoned to the scene, Michael ultimately surrendered about 10:20 p.m., according to sheriff’s officials and county booking records. He was jailed on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
Michael was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance Tuesday in Downey Superior Court.

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UPDATED: Man fatally stabbed outside South Whittier market

SOUTH WHITTIER — A 29-year-old man died following a stabbing outside a meat market in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier late Friday, authorities said.
Israel Lopez of Whittier died at UCI Medical Center at 7:56 p.m. according to Orange County coroner’s officials.
The fatal stabbing took place shortly after 7 p.m. in front of a meat market in the 11800 block of Carmenita Road, just south of Meyer Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“Detectives have learned deputies from the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station responded to the location regarding an assault with a deadly weapon call. Upon their arrival, they found the victim lying on the curb suffering from stab wounds,” deputies from the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Lopez taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, according to Deputy Guillermina Saldana.
No information regarding a suspect was available, and no further details were released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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