Dog shot by police officer in Whittier

WHITTIER >> A police officer shot and wounded a put bull that charged at him as he was investigating a report of a disturbance at a Whittier home Friday, officials said.
The dog is expected to recover and the officer suffered no injuries in the incident, which unfolded about 4 p.m. in the 11200 block of Larrylyn Drive, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
An officer responded to a report of a dispute between a landlord and tenant, Ruiz said.
As the officer contact a resident, the pit bull ran past the dog owner and toward the officer, the lieutenant said.
Fearing for his safety, Ruiz said, the officer fired three shots from his duty weapon, striking the dog twice.
The dog was treated by a veterinarian and is expected to make a full recovery, Ruiz said.
No arrests resulted from the incident, or from the initial call of a disturbance.

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UPDATED: Whittier police seek woman accused of abducting 1-year-old son; child found safe at relative’s home

WHITTIER >> Police are seeking a Whittier woman they say fled with her 1-year-old son as child services workers tried to serve an order to remove the child from her custody Thursday morning, officials said.
The boy was found safe at a relatives home Thursday night, however the mother remained at large, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Martha Martinez, 26, fled from the 12800 block of Foxley Drive with her 1-year-old son about 9:45 a.m. as officials from the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services arrived to serve a removal order, police officials said in a written statement.
“During the contact, the mother fled the location on foot with the child,” according to the police statement.
Officers searched the area for hours, with help from a bloodhound, but did not find the mother and child.
After reaching out to the public for help, the boy was found safe at a relative’s home Thursday night, Ellis said.
Martha Martinez is Latina, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 120 pounds, police said. She was last seen wearing a tank top, blue jeans and yellow boots.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9240.

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Senior citizen struck by car, badly injured while crossing Whittier Boulevard

WHITTIER >> A senior citizen suffered major injuries Tuesday when he was struck by a car in a Whittier Boulevard crosswalk, officials said.
The collision took place about 11:20 a.m. along Whittier Boulevard at Central Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
A 67-year-old Whittier man was walking south in a crosswalk when he was struck by a Nissan Sentra making a left turn onto Whittier Boulevard from the parking lot of the Quad at Whittier shopping center, Ellis said.
He suffered severe head trauma and was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in critical condition, the lieutenant said. An update on his condition was not available Wednesday.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation, he said. The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

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KKK propaganda distributed in Whittier again; 2nd time this year

WHITTIER >> Whittier resident awoke Sunday morning to discover Ku Klux Klan propaganda fliers, along with lollipops, on their front lawns for the second time in five months, authorities said.
The fliers were discovered in residential neighborhoods in the area of Whittier and Norwalk boulevards, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
“The propaganda did not include any threats and was not targeted at specific homes,” police said in a written statement. The fliers wording promoted and sought recruitment for the KKK.
“We responded to the area and collected a sample of the propaganda for the purpose of a police report,” according to the police statement.
Though some residents are upset and offended by the fliers, their distribution is not against the law.
Police said the 100 or so fliers were wrapped in plastic bags and weighted with pebbles and lollipops.
A nearly identical incident angered residents of other nearby Whittier neighborhoods in June.
Police in Fullerton reported similar flier distributions a week before the June incident in Whittier, and police in Santa Ana and Orange reported similar incidents in 2014.
Though the distribution of the fliers does not constitute a crime, “As with the previous incident, we will share this information with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” according to the police statement.

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VIDEO: Suspect sought in bizarre liquor store rampage, attack in Santa Fe Springs

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police are seeking a man caught on surveillance camera trashing a Santa Fe Springs liquor store and attacking the clerk with a coffee mug earlier this week after the clerk refused to let the man use his cell phone, officials said.
The bizarre rampage, which was caught on surveillance video, took place about WDN-L-ASSAULT7:50 p.m. Monday at Bruce’s Liquors, 12623 Imperial Highway, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said in a written statement.
•VIDEO: Suspect attacker Santa Fe Springs liquor store clerk
The suspect walked up to the clerk, a man of about 60 years old, and asked to use his cell phone, the officer said.
“When the clerk refused, the suspect went into a rage and destroyed the cash register and several other items on the counter,” Scoggins said. “He then picked up a porcelain mug and threw it, striking the clerk in the head.”
The clerk was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries, police said. The attacker fled and remained at large Thursday.
Police described the attacker as a white or Latino man in his 20s, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, gray jeans and black Adidas tennis shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Rob Wolfe at 562-409-1869. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

VIDEO/PHOTO courtesy of the Whittier Police Department

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Whittier police plan checkpoint this weekend

WHITTIER >> Police are planning a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in Whittier this weekend.
The Whittier Police Department will be conducting the checkpoint from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3:00 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, “(Whittier Police Department) officers have investigated 319 DUI collisions which have claimed four lives and resulted in another 146 injuries,” according to the statement.
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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Suspects charged in 2006 slaying of Iraq War veteran


SOUTH GATE >> Detectives Sunday announced the arrests of two suspects in the cold case slaying of a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran from Rowland Heights found slain inside his burning car in South Gate in 2006, authorities said.
U.S. Army veteran Jesse Aguilar was found dead inside his car, which was found on fire on Oct. 26, 2006, in the Los Angeles Riverbed near Paramount Boulevard in South Gate, Detective Ray Lugo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
Prompted by evidence in the case, prosecutors Wednesday filed charged of murder and torture against Anthony Silvas, 36, and Juan Vallejo, 40, Lugo said. Silvas, who has been considered a person of interest in the case since shortly after it occurred, while Vallejo was identified as a suspect in recent months.
After nine years waiting for justice, Aguilar’s mother, Nancy Aguilar, said she was glad to see the investigation move forward.
“It’s been a relief that there’s going to be accountability,” she said. “I want to look into the killers’ eyes. I want to see them.”
Vallejo, who lived in La Mirada at the time of the slaying, was arrested Wednesday at a home where he was living in Hawaiian Gardens, Lugo said. Silva, a South Whittier resident at the time of Aguilar’s killing, was already in custody in Orange County for an unrelated drug offense.
Lugo declined to discuss details of the killing, due to the ongoing investigation, but said it was motivated by a dispute over money. He said Aguilar and Silvas were 1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR2friends, and described the victim and Vallejo as acquaintances.
Nancy Aguilar said she herself new little about her son’s death. “I don’t even know how they killed by son,” she said.
Information will emerge as the legal process moves forward.
“Do I want to know everything? No. But I have to,” the mother said.
Aguilar, who grew up in La Mirada and joined the Army in March of 2001, took part in the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003, his mother said.
“He went to war and came back in one piece, and I was so thankful,” she said.
He had been back in the U.S. less than two years and was working at the Automobile Club of Southern California in Costa Mesa when he was killed, according to the detective and Jesse Aguilar’s mother.
He never returned home after going to work Oct. 25, Lugo said. After being reported missing, his bound body was found the following day inside his car, which had been set ablaze.
Lugo, along with a team of fellow detectives, has been investigating Aguilar’s slaying since it occurred.
“We weren’t going to give up on this case,” he said.
1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR3Nancy Aguilar thanked detectives, and particularly Lugo, for their dedication.
“God sent Ray (Lugo) for this case because he never quits,” she said.
In addition to his parents, Nancy and Frank Aguilar, Jesse Aguilar is survived by two daughters, ages 9 and 14, three sisters and two brothers.
Nancy Lugo said in the years following son’s slaying, she has found comfort and solace in support groups, such as Parents of Murdered Children’s Orange County chapter.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Vallejo is being held in lieu of $1.01 million bail and is scheduled for arraignment Monday in Los Angeles Superior 1109_NWS_SGT-L-AGUILAR4Court. Silvas remained in custody in Orange County pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, officials said.


PHOTOS: [TOP TO BOTTOM] 1. Jesse Aguilar, 24, of Rowland Heights, was found slain inside his burning car in South Gate on Oct. 26, 2006. Two suspects were charged with his killing nine years later on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Courtesy)  2. Jesse Aguilar poses with an Iraqi boy while serving overseas with the U.S. Army following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (Courtesy)  3. Jesse Aguilar spends time with one of his two daughters shortly after returning home from a U.S. Army deployment to Iraq. (Courtesy)  4. The gravesite of Jesse Aguilar, 24, of Rowland Heights, who was found slain inside his burning car in South Gate on Oct. 26, 2006. Two suspects were charged with his killing nine years later on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (Courtesy)  5. Jesse Aguilar, a 24-year-old U.S. Army veteran found slain in 2006, is pictured upon his graduation from the Wilshire School of Continuing Education in Fullerton. (Courtesy)


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UPDATED: Whittier man found dead in Angeles National Forest identified


Harry “Sam” Bash was an explorer, constantly seeking a new thrill or personal discovery.
It was that passion that led the longtime Whittier man to serve his country carrying out underwater demolitions with the U.S. Navy, to scale mountains and to fly airplanes.
Unfortunately, it was the same passion that put him in the Angeles National Forest, prospecting for gold, when he was caught in a mudslide in September. He was killed in the incident. He was 67.
Bash’s body was discovered by a hiker about 5 p.m. Sept. 19 along the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, between the Bridge to Nowhere and Heaton Flats, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He was not officially identified by coroner’s officials until this week.
An autopsy determined he died from “multiple blunt force injuries,” and the death was ruled accidental, Winter said.
Coroner’s records listed no hometown for Bash.
Friends described him as a retired longtime Whittier resident who grew up in Pico Rivera and U.S. Navy veteran who enjoyed exploring the outdoors.
Property records indicate Bash owned a home in Whittier for more than 20 years, but friends said he had lived there more than three decades.
Dan Klausen said he first met Bash when the two attended school together in the first grade. They’ve remained friends ever since.
“He was truly my closest friend,” Klausen said.
“He was just a fun guy. He had a great sense of humor. He would call me up and call me ‘plutonium breath,’” Klausen said.
The friends took many trips together, scaling Half Dome in Yosemite, visiting Mt. Whitney and going on bike trips lasting days and hundreds of miles, Klausen said.
And Klausen said Bash’s curiosity knew no bounds.
Upon looking through Bash’s home following his death, “The books this guy had: quantum physics, geometry, calculus,” Klausen said. “He was so fascinated with science and mathematics and how things work.”
AR-150919318Bash often went prospecting in the mountains, generally taking day trips, but sometimes camping overnight, friends said.
Klausen said he speculated his friend must have touched on a good spot for gold, as he was believed to have been camped in the forest for about a week before becoming swept up in a debris flow.
“Otherwise, he never would have been up there that long,” he said. And witnesses reported that Bash’s car had moved in the parking lot at the mountain entrance at least once during the his camping trip, indicating had returned to it and possible resupplied.
Bash was found with his backpack, indicating he was trying to work his way out of the forest when he died, Klausen added.
Friend Jenny Reisner said she believed Bash may have been caught off-guard.
“He was hard of hearing, so likely didn’t hear it coming,” she said.
Bob Garcia said he was a friend of Bash for more than 50 years.
“Sam was a true outdoors man who loved and lived life to the fullest. He touched the lives of many people and he will be missed by all,” Garcia said.
Garcia said his friend spent four years with the Navy as an underwater demolitions expert, followed by a 29-year career at a chemical company.
Bash was a licensed pilot, a scuba diver an underwater welder, a mountain biker, a hiker, a rock climber, an explorer and a prospector, Garcia said.
Bash’s eulogy,delivered at an Oct. 10 memorial in Whittier, described him as “the quintessential explorer,” an accomplished guitarist and a lover of geography, botany and astronomy who spoke Spanish fluently.
Bash was never married and had no children, friends said.
He’s survived by twin sister, Sally, and sister Barb, three nieces, three nephews, six great-nephews and four great-nieces.
“His zest for life, insatiable love of learning, and thirst for adventure impacted and inspired practically everyone around him,” according to the eulogy. “Sam’s kind qualities, gentle demeanor, boundless curiosity, and beautiful spirit earned him immense love and respect. He will be sadly missed but remembered for the rest of our lives by all those who knew him.”

PHOTOS: [TOP] – Harry Samuel Bash, 67, of Whittier (courtesy, Connie Petty); [BELOW] – Sheriff’s recovery effort (courtesy, LASD)


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UPDATED: Deaf and mute man wounded in South Whittier stabbing

A man was found stabbed in the neck along a South Whittier street Friday, but the deaf and mute victim could not immediately tell deputies what had taken place, authorities said.
A passer-by reported finding the man suffering from a gash to his neck shortly after 1 p.m. at Meyer Road and Fidel Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Cynthia Chavez said. The wounded man was taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the stabbing were available, she said. The victim, a 34-year-old deaf and mute Whittier man, could not communicate with deputies at the scene.
A sign-language interpreter was summoned to the hospital to help investigators interview the victim, but they were not immediately able to get a statement as he was quickly rushed into surgery.

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UPDATED: Rookie Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy accused of molesting girl in Orange County


WHITTIER >> A rookie Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl he met through an online video game over the course of a year, officials said Thursday.
Costa Mesa police, aided by Los Angeles county sheriff’s officials, arrested Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles at a sheriff’s training facility in Whittier Wednesday afternoon, Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.
Police first began investigating Argueta Oct. 22 after responding to a report of a “suspicious male” seen on the campus of Costa Mesa Middle School, police said in a written statement. The man had left the campus when officers arrived, but was quickly identified as Argueta, a deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives learned that Argueta and the victim, now-13 years old, had met a year earlier via an online fantasy computer game, officials said.
“Over the course of the year, when the female student was 12 years old, Argueta met with her on numerous occasions,” according to the police statement. “Argueta reportedly performed sexual acts with the girl. Argueta would meet the girl both on campus and away from school.”
Scott said Argueta has been a sworn Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy for less than a year.
Argueta was hired by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in August of 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement. He was assigned to a men’s jail facility.
“The 26-year-old deputy was immediately relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,” according to the LASD statement.
“We will be monitoring the criminal proceedings closely and will take appropriate and swift action when the outcome of the judicial process has concluded,” the statement continued.
“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department expects all of its members to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times,” according to the statement. “Allegations of this magnitude are disturbing and disappointing. Any proven criminal, or other acts of misconduct that violate public trust will not be tolerated and immediate appropriate remedies will be taken by the Department as permitted by law.”
Argueta was booked on suspicion of child molestation and child annoyance.
Argueta posted $100,000 bail Thursday and was released from jail pending his initial court appearance, according to Orange County booking records.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Costa Mesa Police Department at 714-754-5281. Orange County Crime Stoppers can also be reached anonymously at 855-847-6227.


BOOKING PHOTO of Jovanni Argueta, 26, of Los Angeles courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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