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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Gang members sentenced for fatal shooting of Whittier teen

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Two Whittier gang members were each sentenced to spend decades in prison Thursday for the fatal 2012 shooting of a 17-year-old Whittier boy on a busy street corner in what the prosecutor described as an orchestrated gang hit.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Whittier 13 gang members Eudiel Eddie Lopez, 21, and Daniel Cesar Stopani, 20, both of Whittier, Sept. 4 of the murder of Michael Soto of Whittier. Soto was shot to death about 12:30 p.m. on March 26, 2012, at a strip mall at the corner of Mulberry Drive and Painter Avenue in the unincorporated county area of South Whittier.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Judge John Torribio sentenced both killers to the maximum sentence allowed by law, officials said.
Lopez, who was convicted of first-degree murder, was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. Stopani, who was convicted of second-degree murder, received a sentence of 40 years to life in prison.
Torribio ordered each convict to pay $5,000 in restitution to the Victims Compensation Board, and $5,885 to Soto’s mother for funeral costs and lost wages, Ardalani added.
In addition to convicting Lopez and Stopani of Soto’s murder, jurors also found true the special allegations that a gun was used in the crime and that the killing was gang-related, Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford of the District Attorney’s Hardcore Gang Division said.
Lunsford said the shooting stemmed from a brief exchange of words between Lopez and Soto about a month prior to the shooting.
Lopez had told Soto that he was a Whittier 13 gang member, and Soto responded that he did not care. The perceived disrespect was enough to prompt Lopez to target Soto in what Lunsford described as an orchestrated gang execution.
On the day of the killing, Stopani approached Soto from the front as Lopez snuck up behind him, Lunsford said.
Stopani shouted out the name of his gang and punched Soto before Lopez drew a revolver from his waistband and began shooting, the prosecutor said. Lopez continued shooting even after the teen had fallen wounded to the ground.
Lopez was arrested for the killing within hours, officials said. Stopani was interviewed the day of the slaying, but not formally charged until February of 2013.

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Truck containing 5 guns stolen from restaurant parking lot in Whittier

WHITTIER — A pickup truck with four pistols and an AR-15-style rifle was stolen from a restaurant parking lot in Whittier Saturday night, police said.
The theft was reported about 10 p.m. outside Marie Callender’s, 9829 La Serna Drive, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said. It has been parked since 7:30 p.m. before the owner of the white, 2006 Chevrolet Silverado discovered it missing.
Inside the bed of the truck, under a tonneau cover, were three Glock pistols, one Smith & Wesson pistol, and one AR-15-style rifle, Dean said.
It was unclear whether ammunition accompanied the weapons, or why the guns were in the truck. The possession of firearms inside vehicles is permitted under state law, provided the weapons are unloaded and properly stored.

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UPDATED: Woman stabbed to death in South Whittier; suspect arrested

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A woman is dead and another is accused of murder after a fight escalated into a stabbing late Friday in an unincorporated county area just south of Whittier, authorities said.
Michelle Alexis Young, 31, of Los Angeles died following the stabbing, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
The stabbing was first reported as a “woman down” about 10:30 p.m. on a small cul-de-sac in the 11500 block of Obert Avenue, just north of Leffingwell Road, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies arrived to find paramedics already treating Young, who had been stabbed multiple times, officials said
Young was pronounced dead on the sidewalk at 11:12 p.m., Smith said.
“A male adult witness at the scene told deputies that a female approached the victim and started an argument,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The argument escalated into a physical altercation. The female suspect then produced a knife and stabbed the victim several times. The suspect fled the location.”
Soon after, deputies detained another woman who as believed to have been involved in the incident, officials said.
After hours of investigation, detectives arrested Vanessa Rebecca Cella, 28, on suspicion of murder Saturday morning, sheriff’s officials said. Her city of residence was not immediately available.
Cella was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending her scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Bellflower Superior Court, according to county booking records.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 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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Man accused of using modified truck to steal diesel fuel from West Whittier gas station

WEST WHITTIER >> Deputies arrested a man Thursday for allegedly filling a modified truck with stolen diesel fuel at area gas stations, authorities said.
Ruben Harutyunyan, 33, was booked on suspicion of grand theft following his arrest just after 1 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said. His city of residence was not available.
A gas station attendant called deputies shortly before 1 p.m. to report a man with a work truck was using multiple. fraudulent credit cards to buy a large amount of diesel fuel at a 76 Station at the corner of Washington and Norwalk boulevards in an unincorporated county area west of Whittier, the lieutenant said.
The man had left when deputies arrived, but Whittier police officers soon spotted the truck in the area of Broadway and Washington Avenue, Villanueva said.
Officials discovered that Harutyunyan’s truck had been outfitted with a large tank to hold fuel, he said.
Investigators estimated Harutyunyan stole about $300 worth of diesel from the West Whittier gas station, Villanueva said. About $1,000 worth of diesel was found in the tank altogether, and officials were working to determined where it came from.
Deputies from the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station also arrested another man in connection with a similar case last month, in which a van outfitted with a storage tank was being used to steal fuel from area gas stations, Villanueva said.
According to county booking records, Harutyunyan was being held in lieu of $50,00 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Downey Superior Court.

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