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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$10,000 reward offered in search for alleged street racer in triple-fatal 5 Freeway crash


COMMERCE >> The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has authorized a $10,000 reward for information leading to an alleged street racer who fled the scene of 5 Freeway crash in Commerce that left three people dead over the weekend.
The crash, which killed a UPS driver, a 19-year-old college student and the 18-year-old son of a homicide detective, took place just after midnight Saturday on the 5 Freeway, just north of Triggs Street, authorities said.
The crash was blamed on an illegal street race between a Dodge Challenger and a Dodge Charger, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The driver of the Challenger, 35-year-old Dealio Lockhart of Whittier, was arrested at the scene and has been charged with three counts of murder.
But the Dodge Charger he was believed to be racing, as well as its driver, remain at large, officials said.
In hopes of generating tips in the investigation, the Board of Supervisors approved a $10,000 reward this week for information leading to the capture and conviction of the second driver, Solis’ spokeswoman Rosa Santana said in a written statement.
Killed were UPS driver Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma; 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield of Santa Clarita; and 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski of Santa Clarita.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East L.A. area office at 323-980-4600. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTO courtesy of Caltrans

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Victims of triple-fatal 5 Freeway crash in Commerce identified; Whittier man accused of murder

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CITY OF COMMERCE >> A Whittier man is accused of three counts of murder in connection with an alleged street racing crash on the 5 Freeway in Commerce early Saturday that killed a UPS driver, the son of a homicide detective and a young woman, authorities said.
Initially booked on suspicion of manslaughter, David Lockhart, 35, was being held on suspicion of three counts of murder Sunday, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
Lockhart was racing another car when he lost control of his Dodge Challenger on the southbound 5 Freeway near Triggs Street in Commerce just after midnight Saturday, striking a UPS truck and sending the big rig hurling over the center median and into opposing traffic lanes, CHP Officer Doris Peniche said. The UPS truck struck a Nissan sedan, shearing off the tops, as well as a Ford Explorer. The big rig burst into flames.
In addition to the three people killed, two other occupants of the Nissan were hospitalized with major injuries, and two more people suffered minor injuries in the crash, officials said.
The deceased young man and woman, both Santa Clarita teens, who were reportedly returning from a visit to Disneyland in a gray Nissan. Both were passengers.
0229_NWS_WDN-L-5FATAL-FOLOLos Angeles County coroner officials identified one of the victims from the Nissan as 18-year-old Brian Lewandowski.
Lewandowski was the son of Lt. Victor Lewandowski of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, who investigates homicides throughout Los Angeles County, sheriff’s officials said.
“Brian was an incredible young man and every parent’s dream for a son,” the Lewandowski family said in a written statement. “We are absolutely devastated by our loss. Our hearts go out to the other victims and their families and our prayers are for the survivors’ recovery. We are very thankful for the love and support of family and friends throughout this time.”
In addition to his father, Brian Lewandowski is survived by his mother, Jocelyn Lewandowski, and two brothers, sheriff’s officials said.
LITTLEFIELDThe young woman killed while riding in the Nissan was identified by her parents as 19-year-old Michelle Littlefield, a student studying business at College of the Canyons and an employee at Six Flags Magic Mountain, according to media reports.
The third victim was identified on a Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page as 52-year-old Scott Treadway of Mira Loma who had been with UPS for 30 years.
5FATAL-FOLO2“The Teamsters Local 396 Executive Board, Staff and Membership send our heartfelt condolences to the Family of our dear, departed Brother Scott Treadway, who we lost suddenly, in a tragic feeder accident last night. Scott was admired and loved by his friends and co-workers at UPS. We are still trying to come to grips with this horrible loss,” the organization posted. “We love and miss you Brother!”
Fellow teamsters held their meeting Sunday, “under such difficult circumstances,” in honor of Treadway, who worked out of a Cerritos UPS facility, according to the union chapter.
“The members honored Scott’s memory by sharing their thoughts and memories regarding Scott’s remarkable legacy as a UPS Teamster Brother,” Teamsters Local 396 wrote online.
The Dodge Charger Lockhart was allegedly racing, as well as it’s driver, had not been found Sunday, officials said.
Both directions of the 5 Freeway remained closed in the area of the crash through Sunday morning as officials made repairs to the damaged road surface and barriers, according to Caltrans and CHP officials.
According to county booking records, Lockhart was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Anyone with information regarding the crash was asked to contact officers Fonseca or Flores of the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.
— City News Service contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: Crash scene [ABOVE] courtesy of Caltrans; Photo of Brian Lewandowski, 18, of Santa Clarita [2nd FROM TOP] courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Photo of Michelle Littlefield, 19, of Santa Clarita via Facebook; Photo of Scott Treadway, 52, of Mira Loma via Teamsters Local 396 Facebook page.

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UPDATED: 3 killed in 5 Freeway crash in Commerce blamed on alleged street racer from Whittier

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CITY OF COMMERCE >> A Whittier man was street racing when he triggered a fiery six-vehicle crash that claimed three lives and left two other people seriously injured on the 5 Freeway in Commerce early Saturday, authorities allege.
Dealio Lockhart, 35, is accused of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the 12:01 a.m. wreck on the southbound 5 Freeway, just north of Triggs Street, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Doris Peniche.
Two men and one woman died in the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officials said. Their identities were not available Saturday.
5FATAL2Both directions of the 5 Freeway remained shut down through Saturday afternoon and were expected to remain off-limits through Sunday morning as officials investigated the scene and cleared the wreckage.
Lockhart was at the wheel of a Dodge Challenger in the No. 2 lane, “while racing a Dodge Charger travelling in the No. 1 lane,” Peniche said in a written statement.
He tried to pass a slower moving vehicle when he lost control and struck the side of UPS tractor-trailor driving in the right-hand lane, the officer said.
“The impact caused the tractor trailer to lose control and collide into the center median and then became airborne, hitting a gray Nissan and shearing the top of the Nissan off,” Peniche said.
The truck continued out of control, coming to rest on top of a red Ford Explorer that had been heading northbound on the 5 freeway, according to the CHP.
“The tractor-trailer immediately became engulfed in flames,” Peniche said.
Debris from the collision also struck a Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Silverado in northbound traffic lanes.
The driver of the burned truck was pronounced dead at the scene, along with a man and woman who were inside the badly mangled Nissan, according to CHP and coroner officials.
Two other people were hospitalized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center with “major” injuries as a result of the crash, Peniche said. Two other people were reportedly treated for minor injuries.
The Dodge Charger Lockhart was allegedly racing and its driver, were not found.
According to county booking records, Lockhart was being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
He has no prior criminal history listed in Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
The freeway was expected to remain closed through Saturday night, or even Sunday morning, as workers carried out barrier repairs and repaved the damaged roadway, Caltrans officials said.
Anyone witnesses, or anyone with information is asked to contact the CHP’s East Los Angeles area office at 323-980-4600.

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PHOTOS courtesy of Caltrans

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Community rushes to aid of Whittier’s “Tricycle Man” after crash; More than $12,000 raised in less than a day

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WHITTIER >> For decades, Danny Martin has shared his love for the Whittier community by waving to all from his unmistakable tricycle, fitted with an American Flag and a signs exalting Jesus Christ.
And the community returned the sentiment over the weekend after the locally-renowned “Tricycle Man” had his cycle destroyed in a collision with a car, raising more than 12 times the $1,000 goal of an online fund set up by a friend to help Martin and his family within less than one day.
Martin, 57, was involved in a collision with a vehicle just before 9 a.m. Friday at Whittier Boulevard and First Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
He was crossing the street when he was struck by a car making a left turn, Ellis said. The cause remained under investigation, but the collision was being investigated as an accident. Martin was treated for injuries not believed to be serious.
But the accident left Martin without his three-wheeled conveyance, friend Shaun Witsoe explained on the fundraising website he organized at www.gofundme.com/kfrepqas. The initial goal was $1,000.
But by Saturday morning, more than 380 donors had contributed more than $12,000.
“$1,000 will go towards his new bike and the rest will go to him and his family to help with medical bills and anything else that the family may need,” according to the website.

Dan Martin, 51, of Whittier, left, rides his new adult-sized tricycle with friend Troy Silva, inside Orchard's Fresh Foods, during Martin's 51st birthday celebration, at Orchard's Fresh Food Market in Whittier, Thursday, August 6, 2009. Dan Martin a professional motorcross rider in the seventies, was injured and is now partially paralyzed. Martin rides his bike everyday to Orchard's Fresh Foods. The owners of Orchard's Fresh Foods helped raise money to buy a new bike for Martin's for his 51st birthday. (Correspondent photo by James Carbone/SWCITY)

Dan Martin, 51, of Whittier, left, rides his new adult-sized tricycle with friend Troy Silva, inside Orchard’s Fresh Foods, during Martin’s 51st birthday celebration, at Orchard’s Fresh Food Market in Whittier, Thursday, August 6, 2009. Dan Martin a professional motorcross rider in the seventies, was injured and is now partially paralyzed. Martin rides his bike everyday to Orchard’s Fresh Foods. The owners of Orchard’s Fresh Foods helped raise money to buy a new bike for Martin’s for his 51st birthday. (Correspondent photo by James Carbone/SWCITY)

Witsoe posted a video thanking the community for their support after the fund climbed past $$8,000.
“So god bless you all, because Danny’s going to have a very big surprise,” he said, adding that he planned to keep the fund open for a week.
Witsoe reported that Martin was out of the hospital, and even back on the road on a donated bike by Friday afternoon.
“He is strong and will not be kept down!” the friend wrote. “I can’t wait to show him all the support he has been shown with your donations. We will get him a new bike!”
A former professional motorcross racer, Martin was left comatose and partially paralyzed in a 1981 motorcycle crash.
Martin made an astonishing recovery after doctors told his family he would never walk or talk again.
He has since become a local fixture, riding miles each day around Whittier on his flag-adorned tricycle, waving to all those he passes and raising spirits.
Donors left not only monetary contributions, but also words of encouragement on the website.
“Thanks for all the waves. May God bless you today and always,” commented Sharon Kotoff.
“God Bless you, Danny! You make Whittier a little bit brighter everyday,” Chris MeMaster Sneddon wrote.
“Danny, Thank you for always brightening up our day,” Griselda Cedeno added.

PHOTO [TOP] of Danny Martin from Facebook.

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Police: Felon found in possession of assault rifle, sawed off shotgun, handgun, ammo, drugs in Whittier

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WHITTIER >> What began as a routine traffic accident investigation earlier this week ended with police arresting of the involved drivers, a convicted felon, after finding an AK-47-style rifle, a sawed-off shotgun, a handgun and drugs in his car, authorities said.
Joshua David Fink, 38, was booked on suspicion of being convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, possession of illegal weapons, possession of drugs while armed and existing warrants following his Wednesday morning arrest, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
Police responded to a two-car crash shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday in the 15400 block of Whittier Boulevard, Whittier police Lt. Mike Przybyl said. Further details were not available regarding the collision itself, but it was not believed to involved any major injuries.
“As paramedics were treating one of the drivers, they noticed a handgun hidden in the car,” police said in a written statement. “Officers conducted a field investigation and recovered a handgun, assault rifle, sawed-off shotgun, ammunition and drugs from the vehicle.”
Fink appeared in Bellflower Superior Court Friday, where he was charged with seven gun- and drug-related crimes, court documents show. His arraignment hearing was postponed until Monday, officials said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.

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18-year-old Fullerton man shot to death in West Whittier identified

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WEST WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of an 18-year-old Fullerton man found shot to death inside a car in West Whittier over the weekend.
Hector Jesus Rios died at the scene of the car-to-car shooting, which took place just after 1 a.m. Sunday at Broadway and Reichling Lane, in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, Ed Winter, assistance chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said.
His city of residence was not listed at the coroner’s office, however Los Angeles sheriff’s officials described Rios as a Fullerton resident.
He was believed to be a passenger in a car driven by a second man, who also suffered wounds in the shooting but survived, according to Deputy Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau.
The surviving victim was described as a 19-year-old Santa Ana man. The wounded man fled from the shooting scene on foot and was found several blocks to the north with injuries including a gunshot wound to his face, investigators said.
“Investigators believe that the two victims were driving east on Reichling Lane, approaching Broadway… when (a) suspect (or suspects) confronted the victims from another vehicle at the time of the shooting, Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement.
No suspect description was available, and the motive was unclear.
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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UPDATED: One man killed, another wounded in West Whittier shooting

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WEST WHITTIER >> One man was found fatally shot inside a crashed car and a second shooting victim was found wounded nearby along Broadway in West Whittier early Saturday, officials said.
The shooting took place at 1:08 a.m. at Broadway and Reichling Lane in the unincorporated county area, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Deputies first responded to reports of a car crashing into a traffic signal pole at the intersection, directly in front of Sorenson Library, Detective Phillip Martinez of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
One man was found sitting in the passenger seat of the car, suffering from gunshot wounds, the detective said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
As deputies were responding to the crash scene, a second shooting victim flagged them down a little farther to the north along Broadway, toward Whittier Boulevard, officials said. That man was hospitalized in stable condition, but a gunshot wound to his mouth left him unable to communicate with investigators.
0215_NWS_WDN-L-TWOSHOT2Several neighbors reporting hearing gunshots and the crash, but no eyewitnesses to the shooting had been found, Martinez said. No suspect description was known, and the motive in the shooting remained a mystery.
Officials described the attack as a car-to-car shooting.
“Investigators believe that the two victims were driving east on Reichling Lane, approaching Broadway… when (the) suspect (or suspects) confronted the victims from another vehicle,”Navarro-Suarez said in a written statement. “After the shooting, the suspects fled in an unknown direction.”
Evidence at the scene suggested that the shooting took place along Reichling Lane, just east of Broadway, at the mouth of an alley running behind Vanport Avenue, investigators said.
It initially appeared that following the gunfire, the car continued out-of-control before hitting a parked car on Reichling Lane, then a curb and light signal post at the southeast corner of Reichling Lane and Broadway at slow speed, Martinez said.
Investigators suspected the second victim found walking along Broadway had been driving the car, but that was yet to be confirmed.
A crime scene investigator collected items including a white T-shirt and a cellphone from the roadway on Reichling Avenue and placed them in manila evidence envelopes, as well as took photos and measurements of the scene.
Detectives declined to say whether the crashed car, which was towed from the scene Sunday morning, had bullet holes in it.
Toña Barragan, 54, said she was awakened by the sound of the crash, but heard no gunshots preceding it.
She looked outside to see the car overturned, with one man sitting motionless inside.
“I told my mother to call 9-1-1 because it looked like he was sick, he wasn’t moving,” she said.
Passers-by soon rushed to the man’s aid before deputies and paramedics arrived at the scene, Barragan said. She later learned the man had been shot.
The shooting, which Barragan said was the first she had ever seen in her 20 years living in the neighborhood, left her nervous.
“I didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m,” she said. “My heart was pounding.”
The name of the victim who died was not released Sunday pending positive identification and notification of his family, coroner officials said. Both shooting victims were described only as men.
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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