Man fatally shot outside family gathering in West Whittier identified


WEST WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 30-year-old Whittier man who was shot to death outside a family gathering just over a week ago.
Adrian Phillip Casas died shortly after the attack, which took place just before 8 p.m. on May 13 in the 10300 block of Lock Avon Drive in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano.
Few details are known about deadly shooting, which unfolded as Casas was standing in the driveway of a home where a family gathering was taking place, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
Witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, but no description of the shooter was available, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Casas succumbed to his injuries at a hospital hours later, officials said. An autopsy determined Casas died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
A fund to help Casas’ family has been set up online at www.gofundme.com/in-loving-memory-of-adrian-p-casas.
His Facebook profile describes him as a forklift driver who went to Pioneer High School and was engaged to be married.
Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Police plan Friday night checkpoint in Whittier

WHITTIER >> Police are planning to hold a sobriety and driver license checkpoint in Whittier Friday night.
The checkpoint is ton be held from 7 p.m. Friday to 2:30 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, the Whittier PD officers have investigated 344 DUI collisions which have claimed four lives and resulted in another 66 injuries,” according to the statement.
“The Whittier Police Department supports the new effort from the Office of Traffic Safety that aims to educate all drivers that ‘DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.’ If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI.”
Funding for the checkpoint is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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Failed robbers shoot at victims in Uptown Whittier


WHITTIER >> A man and woman fought off two would-be robbers and briefly chased after them before one of the fleeing bandits fired gunshots at them, but missed, in Uptown Whittier late Saturday, police said.
The crime unfolded shortly after 8:15 p.m. in the parking lot of the DoubleTree by Hilton, 7320 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
A man and women in their 20s were in the parking lot when two men approached them and demanded property from the woman, he said.
The intended victims were able to fight off the men and chased after the fleeing crooks as they ran through a nearby parking structure, according to the lieutenant.
“One of the suspects turned around and fired two shot,” Ellis said. The bullets did not strike the victims.
The attackers were last seen exiting the parking structure and fleeing down Bright Avenue, he said. A detailed suspect description was not available.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UDPATE: Man fatally shot outside family gathering in West Whittier


WEST WHITTIER >> A man died after he was shot outside a family gathering in West Whittier on Saturday night, authorities said.
The deadly shooting was reported about 7:55 p.m. in the 10300 block of Lock Avon Drive in the unincorporated county area, according to Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
The victim, described as a 30-year-old man, was attending a family gathering when the shooting took place, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
“The victim was standing in the front driveway of the residence when he was shot in the upper torso by an unknown assailant,” she said.
He succumbed to his injuries several hours later at a hospital, officials said.
“Although witnesses reported hearing two gunshots, there is no suspect description at this time,” Navarro-Suarez said.
No further details were available.
The victim’s identity was not released Sunday pending positive identification and notification of family by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Anyone with information is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Gunman robs Whittier Big Lots store


WHITTIER >> A masked gunman fled with cash after holding up a Big Lots store in Whittier on Friday night, police said.
The crime took place just before 8:30 p.m. at the store, 13241 Whittier Blvd., Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
A man wearing a mask and brandishing a handgun entered the store and demanded cash from an employee, the lieutenant said.
The robber fled with a bag full of cash taken from a cash register, he said.
A detailed suspect description was not available as detectives continued investigating the incident, Ellis said.
No injuries were reported.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Robbery suspect arrested after Whittier police pursuit

WHITTIER >> A robbery suspect led police on a high-speed chase through several cities that began and ended in Whittier late Wednesday, officials said.
The incident began about 5:50 p.m. when Whittier police received a report that a witness had spotted a suspicious person at Whittier Boulevard and Broadway who may have been connected to a prior crime reported to the neighboring sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
As police approached the white GMC pickup truck, it fled from officers, initiating a pursuit.
The pickup truck traveled at high speeds, and at some points on the wrong side of the road, under the helicopter-mounted cameras of local TV news helicopters as it made its way north to Hacienda Heights via surface streets, then back into Whittier.
A dispatcher reportedly made contact with the suspect by phone before he stopped the truck and surrendered along Pickering Avenue, just south of Mar Vista Street. The driver was taken into custody without a struggle.
A passenger was initially inside the truck with the driver when the chase began, Ruiz said. He exited the car toward the outset of the chase and cooperated with police. He was not arrested.
The driver was expected to be booked on suspicion of evading police and driving on a suspended license, Ruiz said. His identity was not available pending the booking process.
Detectives in Pico Rivera were looking the man’s suspected connection with a robbery reported in their jurisdiction, sheriff’s officials said. Further details regarding the robbery case were not available Wednesday night.

PHOTO by Keith Durflinger

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Whittier man who died after struggle with police identified


WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials on Sunday released the identity of a 27-year-old Whittier man who died after a struggle with police in Whittier last week.
Jonathan Andrew Salcido died at a hospital after being detained by police about 2 p.m. Thursday in the 900 block of Ocean View Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
The officers had responded to a call from a nearby home reporting a family member suffering from mental illness was refusing to go to a psychiatric facility, according to Deputy Caroline Rodriguez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.
The man, later identified as Salcido, had run away from the home when police arrived, but was followed by a family member.
When officers encountered the man, he began trying to jump a fence in front of a water reservoir, Rodriguez said in a written statement.
Police used “control holds” to wrestle Salcido into custody, she said. Salcido soon became unconscious and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Salcido’s cause of death remained unclear Sunday pending the completion of an autopsy, Molano said.
No further details regarding the incident were available. The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is handling the investigation.

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Man dies after being restrained by police in Whittier


WHITTIER >> A mentally ill man lost consciousness and ultimately died at a hospital after he was restrained by police in Whittier on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The man, whose identity was not available, died at PIH Health Hospital in Whittier shortly before 2 p.m., according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and Whittier police officials said.
Officers responded to a home in the 14400 block of Tedemory Drive, “regarding a male adult suffering from a mental illness who was refusing to go to a mental hospital,” Deputy Caroline Rodriguez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The man had run away from the home by the time police arrived.
A family member followed the man about a mile to the 7900 block of Ocean View Avenue, Rodriguez said. As officers approached, the man tried to jump over a fence leading to a water reservoir.
“Officers used control holds to restrain and handcuff the male,” she said. “A short time later the male became unconscious and the officers began life saving measures until the arrival of paramedics. The male was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
No officers were hurt during the incidence. No further details were released.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner will conduct an autopsy.
The investigation is being handled by the sheriff’s department.

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Man and woman charged with Whittier-area random shooting rampage

Prosecutors filed a murder charge, 14 attempted murder charges and other allegations on Thursday and a man and woman they say embarked on a random shooting spree in the Whittier area over the weekend that left one man dead and three others wounded.
Alejandro Lazo, 21, and his girlfriend Reyna Gomez, 26, both of Whittier, who themselves were shot and wounded under mysterious circumstances following Saturday’s mobile rampage, have previously been considered “persons of interest,” in the series of violent crimes. Both suspects are self-described gang members with criminal records.
But Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau Capt. Christopher Bergner announced Thursday that the couple has been formally arrested in connection with the crime spree.
And the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed one count of murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and one count of carjacking against each defendant, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling. Gomez was additionally charged with torture for allegedly shooting a man in the groin during the bizarre attacks that unfolded in Whittier, La Mirada and Pico Rivera.
There was no known motive or explanation for the rampage, Bergner said.
“These were senseless acts of violence, acts committed on innocent people that were merely enjoying the day, running errands, in what they believed to be a safe area,” the captain said. “The individuals that were victims of this crime, these were random targets of violence that were unprovoked.”
The investigation continues, and detectives are seeking additional suspects believed to have played roles in portions of Saturday’s crime spree, Bergner said. He declined to comment further regarding any outstanding suspects.
In addition, “They’re also reviewing similar crimes in the area to see of the suspects were also involved in any additional crimes that we haven’t yet reported,” Bergner said.
The spate of violence began about 1 p.m. Saturday in the 10000 block of Carmenita Road in South Whittier, where a man was wounded in the leg in a drive-by shooting. The attackers, later identified as Lazo and Gomez, were in a white Kia Rio when they carried out the Carmenita Road shooting.
The suspect turned up again about 2:15 p.m. in the 11100 block of Rosehedge Drive in Pico Rivera, where they carjacked a man at gunpoint and fled in his green Nissan Pathfinder SUV, Deputy Lilian Peck of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The victim was unhurt.
Just over an hour later, another shooting linked to the couple was reported behind a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. Gomez is accused of shooting a man in the groin from as he walked down the street, resulting in the torture charge filed against her, officials said. The victim, a man in his 50s, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The suspects then headed down Colima Road in the carjacked Pathfinder and opened fire at two motorists who were stopped at a traffic light near Lambert Road, Peck said. No one was injured in the car-to-car attacks.
The shooters continued south to Imperial Highway and La Mirada Boulevard, where they shot a man in the arm as he was sitting in a car about 4 p.m., according to Peck.
“Norwalk Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to the La Mirada shooting but quickly learned another shooting occurred just south of them, at the intersection of Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road, La Mirada,” Peck said.
“The fourth victim, Jose Ricardo Sahagun, a 44-year-old father of two little boys, was struck multiple times with gunfire as he sat in his car, waiting at a traffic light. Other victims in nearby vehicles were also fired upon indiscriminately, but Jose cwas the only person injured and he was pronounced dead at the scene.”
Sahagun succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
The search for the killers continued for more than two hours before deputies found the carjacked Nissan Pathfinder abandoned at Amelia Mayberry Park in South Whittier shortly after 6 p.m.,Peck said. “It was there the suspects unloaded the vehicle they used as a mobile gun turret,” she said.
But gunfire erupted again about 8 p.m., this time outside a motel in the 15000 block of Carmenita Road, authorities said. This time, it was the suspects who had been wounded in a shooting.
“Both suspects were shot in the torso and when they realized the gravity of their injuries, they flagged down a concerned citizen and asked her to dial 911 for them,” Peck said.
Lazo and Gomez were found sitting in the white Rio believed to have used in the first shooting of the spree, officials said. A gun was recovered from the car, and has since been linked to the numerous nearby crimes scenes, Bergner said.
The circumstance of the suspect’ shooting remains under investigation by the Whittier Police Department. No suspect description was available.
Family members of Sahagun thanked the police and God for the arrests in the slaying of their loved one, as well as the community for its outpouring of support.
The Compton social worker and former school teacher left behind a wife and two sons, ages 4 and 7.
“While this is a positive step toward justice and closure, there’s no reconciling of the fact that the taking of a n innocent life has devastated both our family, and the community,” Maria Del Rosario Sahagun.
Family members described Jose Sahagun as an example for the community.
A fund to benefit Jose Sahagun has been set up online at www.gofundme.com/jose-ricardo-sahagun.
A viewing for Jose Sahagun has been scheduled for 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdau at the All Souls Mortuary, 4400 Cherry Ave. in Long Beach.
A Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 8545 Norwalk Blvd. in Whittier, to be followed by burial at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach.
Detectives described both Lazo and Gomez as self-identified gang members but declined to name the gang they belong to.
Both were released from jail late last year after serving time for prior convictions, officials said.
Los Angeles County court records show Lazo pleaded guilty to extortion and assault with a deadly weapon on Feb. 23, 2016. On the same date, he was also convicted of possession of methamphetamine on a separate case. He pleaded no contest to petty theft on Dec. 26. 2014.
Gomez pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia on July 6, 2015. She also pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine on July 9, 2015 and to possession of methamphetamine for sale on Jan. 8, 2014.
Gomez was convicted of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and possession of marijuana for sale on June 11, 2012.
She pleaded no contest to four counts of vandalism on Sept. 23, 2010 and one count of vandalism on Jan. 31, 2011. She was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon on Oct. 20, 2009.
According to county booking records, Lazo was being held without bail, while Gomez was being held in lieu of $12 million bail. They were scheduled to make their initial court appearance Friday in the Downey branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
If convicted as charged, the suspects could both spend the rest of their lives in prison.


— Staff writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: (crime scene map and picture of victim Jose Sahagun courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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UPDATED: Man and woman wounded in Santa Fe Springs shooting being investigated in connection with Whittier-La Mirada shooting rampage


A man and woman were found shot in a stolen car in the parking lot of a Santa Fe Springs motel late Saturday, four hours after a shooting rampage that left one man dead and another wounded in Whittier and La Mirada, officials said.
The man and woman wounded in the Santa Fe Springs shooting were being held on suspicion of auto theft and gun possession Sunday as detectives continued investigating whether they were connection to the earlier shooting spree, according to Whittier police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials. Their identities were not released.
The couple matched the general description of the man and woman being sought in connection with the spate of shootings, Sgt. Vincent Plair of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement. The suspect description has not been disclosed.
“It is unclear whether the detained individuals are the suspects in the earlier shooting,” Plair said. “Homicide Bureau investigators are following up on all possible leads and working with Whittier Police Department to solve these crimes.
“As of now there have not been any arrests made in connection with these incidents,” he said.
Officers responded to reports of “shots fired” at 8 p.m. at the Budget Inn, 13420 Firestone Blvd., according to Whittier police Sgt. Ramos, who declined to give his first name.
The circumstances of the shooting were unknown and no suspect description was available, Ramos said.
Both the man and woman were taken to the University of Southern California, Irvine Medical Center for treatment, the sergeant said.
The woman was shot once, he said. Her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The man suffered multiple gunshot wounds. An update on his condition was not available.
Police soon learned that the car the man and woman were in had been reported stolen, Whittier police Lt. Brian Ellis said. Officers also recovered a gun from the couple.
Without a suspect description, it was unclear whether the shooting was related to a spate of three shootings in Whittier and La Mirada Saturday afternoon that left one man dead and another man wounded.
The violence began about 3 p.m. with a carjacking carried out by a man and woman in Pico Rivera, according to sheriff’s officials.
The carjacked Nissan Pathfinder showed up at a Starbucks coffee shop at Whittier Boulevard and Colima Road in Whittier about 30 minutes later, Ellis said.
The suspects opened fire on a man in his 50s in an alley to the rear of the coffee shop. He was wounded in the leg.
Within minutes, the occupants of the SUV again opened fire at the intersection of Colima and Lambert roads, Ellis said. A car was struck, but the people inside were unhurt.
A third shooting believed to involve the same carjacked SUV and suspects unfolded about 4 p.m. at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Alicante Road in La Mirada, sheriff’s officials said.
The victim, 44-year-old Jose Shagun of Norwalk, succumbed to his injuries at the University of California Medical Center, Irvine, at 4:51 p.m., according to Orange County coroner’s records.
Deputies found the Nissan SUV believed to have been used in the three shootings shortly after 6 p.m., abandoned at Amelia Mayberry Park in South Whittier.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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