Police plan checkpoint in Whittier Friday night

WHITTIER >> Police in Whittier will screen drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint late Friday and early Saturday, officials said.
The checkpoint will take place 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, (Whittier Police Department) officers have investigated 327 DUI collisions which have claimed four lives and resulted in another 148 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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Hacienda Heights man denies charge in fatal Whittier hit-and-run

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WHITTIER >> A Hacienda Heights man who allegedly struck and killed another man with a pickup truck before fleeing the scene over the weekend pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge, authorities said.
Randy Marquez, 30, entered his plea in Norwalk Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Officials said in a written statement.
He’s charged with hit-and-run in connection with a collision Saturday night on Pickering Avenue, just south of Hadley Street, Saturday night that left Victor Manuel Gallegos, 58, of Whittier, dead.
An autopsy determined Gallegos died of “multiple blunt force injuries,” and the death was deemed accidental, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
The Toyota pickup truck Marquez allegedly drove when he struck Gallegos was found parked in Hacienda Heights the following morning, police said.
Investigators identified Marquez as the suspected hit-and-run driver, but he remained at large until he turned himself in to the Glendora Police Department late Tuesday, according to Whittier police Officer John Scoggins.
Marquez, who is on parole for a 2013 robbery conviction, was being held without bail, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
He’s scheduled to return to court April 5 for a status hearing, district attorney’s officials said.
If convicted as charged, Marquez could face up to nine years in state prison.

PHOTO of Randy Marquez, 30, of Hacienda Heights courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.

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Officials: Autistic Whittier teen left on school bus died from hyperthermia

Services are held for Hun Joon "Paul" Lee at  St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Lee, a 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier died last week after being left on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot in Whittier. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Services are held for Hun Joon “Paul” Lee at St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Lee, a 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier died last week after being left on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

WHITTIER >> A 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier who died after being left alone on a school bus on a hot summer day last year died from hyperthermia, police said Thursday.
Prompted in part by the recent finding of Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner investigators, police arrested the subcontracted substitute bus driver Wednesday on suspicion of dependent abuse in connection with the Sept. 11 death of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
Lee was inadvertently left alone for a matter of hours on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School school district parking lot at Mulberry Drive and Greenleaf Avenue in Whittier, as afternoon temperatures neared 100 degrees.
The coroner’s investigation, which was slowed by the need for forensic testing, ultimately determined that Lee died as a result of hyperthermia, or overheating, and the death was ruled accidental, Scoggins said.
Detectives Wednesday arrested bus driver Armando Abel Ramirez, 37, of Apple Valley. He was a substitute bus driver employed by Whittier-based Pupil Transportation Cooperative, which provided school bus serviced to the WUHSD at the time of the incident, officials said.
Wednesday’s arrest was based on, “the totality of the circumstances,” Scoggins said, though the coroner’s findings were a significant piece of the case.
Ramirez is expected to be arraigned Friday in Bellflower Superior Court. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had yet to file formal charges Thursday.
“The case is still under review, but we anticipate a filing,” Scoggins said.
Meanwhile, Ramirez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles,according to county booking records.
Family members of Lee have filed a civil lawsuit against the WUHSD and PTC.
Attorney Brian Panish, of Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, which is representing the Lee family, said he was encouraged by the arrest.
“We are pleased that the Whittier Police Department has taken the first step to hold bus driver Armando Ramirez accountable for his role in the death of Paul Lee,” Panish said in a written statement. “We will continue to pursue justice for the Lee family and remain diligent in our fight to change bus safety policies and procedures in order to avoid a senseless tragedy like this from ever happening again.”
In response to Lee’s death, as well as Wednesday’s arrest, State Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, expressed condolences Thursday to Lee’s family and friends, praised the work of investigators and announced that he had introduced legislation to try to ensure a similar tragedy is never repeated in California.
“In order to prevent these types of tragedies from happening in the future, I have introduced Senate Bill 1072, which will require every single school bus in California to be equipped with a child-safety alarm system. The bill would also require school bus drivers to receive an annual training on the system in order to get their licenses renewed,” Mendoza said in a written statement.
“It is imperative that we do everything we can to improve the safety of all children who ride a bus to school every day, not only in Whittier but throughout the state,” Mendoza said.

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Bus driver arrested in connection with death of autistic teen left alone on school bus in Whittier

A religious shrine was erected for Hun Joon "Paul" Lee, 19, who died last Friday as family and friends mourned his death the Lee's Whittier home on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Paul was found unresponsive in a parked bus and was pronounced dead at the Whittier Union High School District bus lot last Friday. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ Whittier Daily News)

A religious shrine was erected for Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, 19, who died Sept. 11, 2015, as family and friends mourned his death the Lee’s Whittier home on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Paul was found unresponsive in a parked bus and was pronounced dead at the Whittier Union High School District bus lot. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ Whittier Daily News)

WHITTIER >> Police Wednesday arrested a bus driver in connection with the death of a 19-year-old autistic student who dead after being left alone on a school bus for up to seven hours on a sweltering day last September, officials said.
Armando Abel Ramirez, 37, of Apple Valley is accused of felony dependent abuse in connection with the Sept. 11 death of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee of Whittier at a Whittier Union high School District Parking lot at Mulberry Drive and Greenleaf Avenue, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
At the time of the incident, Ramirez was a substitute driver for Pupil Transportation Cooperative, a Whittier-based company contracted by the WUHSD to provide bus service to area schools, officials said.
After six months of investigation, detectives determined there was sufficient evidence to support Ramirez’s arrest, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
The arrest was prompted, in part, by the results of the coroner’s investigation, Scoggins said.
Lee’s officials cause of death was not available

Services are held for Hun Joon "Paul" Lee at  St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Lee, a 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier died last week after being left on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot in Whittier. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Services are held for Hun Joon “Paul” Lee at St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Lee, a 19-year-old special needs student from Whittier died last week after being left on a school bus at a Whittier Union High School District parking lot in Whittier on Sept. 11, 2015. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Officers took him into custody “without incident” shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday at his Apple Valley home, Scoggins said.
Lee was found on the parked school bus after officials searching for him after his family reported he was never brought home about 3:30 p.m. by the school bus, as usual, police and family members said.
The bus driver returned to the bus to check it and discovered Lee, unresponsive, about 4:25 p.m., police said.
Rescuers attempted CPR, however, Lee was pronounced dead at the scene.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Lee’s parents alleges Lee never got off the bus to attend school that day, and was left alone for seven hours as temperatures neared 100 degrees.
The driver checked the bus and declared it “all-clear” prior to the discovery of Lee’s body, according to PTC officials.
The case was presented Wednesday to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which was in the process of reviewing it, Scoggins said.
Ramirez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Friday in Bellflower Superior Court, authorities said.

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UPDATED: Pickup truck found, driver sought following fatal hit-and-run in Uptown Whittier

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WHITTIER >> Police are seeking the driver of a pickup truck that struck and killed a man crossing the road in Uptown Whittier late Saturday, then fled the scene.
The hit-and-run took place at 9:08 p.m. as the victim — a man in his late-50s — was walking across Pickering Avenue, just south of Hadley Street, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said.
A white, older-model Toyota pickup truck heading north on Pickering Avenue struck the man and continued driving, he said.
0321_NWS_WDN-L-HITANDRUN2Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene. His name was not available Sunday.
A witness briefly followed the fleeing truck, but lost sight of it before getting its license plate number, the lieutenant said.
Police found the pickup truck believed to be the one that struck the pedestrian Sunday afternoon, parked in the 2200 block of Ruiz Place in Hacienda Heights, police said in a written statement. But the driver remained outstanding.
The pickup truck was adorned with black lettering on the driver-side door reading “GLASS 951-.” Black lettering on the truck’s tailgate reads, “AFFORDABLE SHOWERS, CLOSET DOORS, WINDOWS, MIRRORS.”
Detectives continued working to identify and find the person who was driving the truck when the fatal collision occurred, Lt. Jay Tatman said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police at 562-567-9240, or the department’s tip hotline at 562-567-9299.

*PHOTO [TOP] courtesy of Venusse Navid [BELOW] courtesy of the Whittier Police Department

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Whittier robbery suspect arrested by SWAT team in Long Beach

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LONG BEACH >> A SWAT team early Thursday apprehended a man in Long Beach who’s been linked by DNA to a Whittier check cashing business robbery four months ago, authorities said.
Timothy Deaunti Jordan, 26, of Long Beach, who was already on parole for a previous robbery conviction, was jailed without a struggle when a SWAT team found him about 5:45 a.m. at a home in the 200 block of West Gardner Street in Long Beach, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He’s accused of taking part in the early-morning, Nov. 16, burglary and armed robbery of a Whittier check cashing business in the 8800 block of Painter Avenue, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
The window of the businesses was found smashed, but nothing was believed to have been stolen, Scoggins said.
0318_NWS_WDN-L-SWAT1Police took burglary report and left, and the owner, a woman, stayed at the business to clean up the mess, he said.
The burglars returned while the woman was at the business, armed with a handgun, Scoggins said. They forced the owner to open a safe at gunpoint and fled with a large, undisclosed amount of cash.
Investigators found blood believed to belong to one of the suspects at the crime scene and submitted it to the crime lab for analysis. The lab recently informed Whittier police that the DNA matched that of Jordan, who was already on parole for a robbery conviction.
Jordan was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment hearing Monday, officials said.
Police continued seek at least three additional suspects in November’s break-in and robbery, Scoggins said.
Anyone with information can reach Whittier police at 562-567-9200, or the department’s tip hotline at 562-567-9299.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Whittier Police Department

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Two arrested in Whittier bicycle theft sting

WHITTIER >> In an effort to combat the issue all-too-common crime of bicycle theft, police arrested to alleged thieves who tried to pedal away on bait bicycles left in front of Whittier convenience stores Thursday as part of a sting operation, officials said.
A teenage boy and a man were each arrested without a struggle after they hopped on the seemingly unattended bikes and began riding off, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said.
The first arrest took place about 11:40 a.m. at Circle K, at Beverly Boulevard and Pickering Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said. The suspect was described as a teenage Whittier boy.
Police arrested a second suspect in the same manner about 4:50 p.m. in front of a 7-Eleven, 12515 Philadelphia Street, the lieutenant said. Arrested was Joseph Martin, 24, of Whittier.
Both suspects were booked on suspicion of possession of stolen property, Tatman said. Martin was released from custody after posting $1,000 bail, records show.

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Whittier man accused of knifepoint robbery


WHITTIER >> A man robbed another man a knifepoint in Uptown Whittier Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Richard Joseph Torres, 38, of Whittier — who was already on felony probation for a 2013 conviction — was arrested on suspicion of robbery, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records.
Police responded to a report of a robbery about 2 p.m. in the 6200 block of Bright Avenue in which Torres robbed another man of his money at knifepoint, Whittier police Officer John Scroggins said.
“Apparently, the suspect and victim are known to one another,” he said. Their exact relationship was unclear.
Officers quickly found and arrested Torres in connection with the crime, Scroggins said.
According to court records, Torres was already on felony probation under AB 109 guidelines after pleading “no contest” in July of 2013 of interfering or resisting police by means of force or threat.
Previous Los Angeles County convictions include auto theft and drug possession.
Torres was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance Friday, records show.

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Police: Whittier man arrested following shotgun attack on neighbor


WHITTIER >> Police jailed a Whittier man Sunday after he opened fire on a neighbor with a shotgun, but missed, in Uptown Whittier, officials said.
Jose Manuel Luevano, 23, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon following the 8:20 a.m. incident in the 6700 block of Painter Avenue, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
The victim, a man in his 20s, was sitting in a car when Lueveano approached while brandishing a shotgun, police said.
“The suspect pointed the shotgun at the victim and fired once,” according to the police statement. “The victim was not hit and the suspect ran from the location.”
The load of shot from the shotgun struck a building behind the victim, Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Police searched the area but did not find the shooter.
But further investigation led police to find the suspect about five hours later, on foot in the area of Rosecrans Avenue and La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada, where officers took him into custody without a struggle, authorities said.
“A search warrant was served at his residence and a weapon was located,” the statement said.
The gun recovered at Luevano’s home was similar to the one used in the shooting, though police were yet to determine if it was one and the same, Ellis said.
The suspect and victim were acquainted with one another, however, no words were exchanged prior to the gunfire, the lieutenant said. The motive for the shooting was unknown.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Luevano was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.

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Young man wounded in Whittier drive-by shooting


WHITTIER >> A drive-by shooting in Whittier left a young man wounded Friday afternoon, officials said.
Police first responded at 6:57 p.m. to reports of gunfire and a “person down” along Laurel Avenue, between Lambert Road and Dunton Drive, Whittier police Cpl. Tim Jakcsy said.
Officers found a young man who had been shot once in the abdomen, the corporal said.
He was taken to a hospital. “He appears to be stable at this point,” Jakcsy said.
No suspect description was 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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