UPDATED: One killed, child in critical condition after tree topples onto wedding party at Whittier park

WHITTIER >> One person died and five more were injured after a tree fell onto a group of people at Penn Park in Whittier on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.
•Video: Tree falls on group of people in Whittier
The incident was first reported about 4:40 p.m. at the park, 13950 Penn Street.
Firefighters treated six patients in all, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said via Twitter.
“The injured were transported to local area hospitals where it has since been reported one of the victims has succumbed to their injuries,” Whittier police officials said in a written statement. “Another, described only as a 4-year-old female, is in critical condition as a result of head trauma.”
Witness Gilbert Duran, who was photographing a Quinceanera celebration at the park, said the tree toppled as a wedding party was taking pictures beneath it.
Families, including children, went rushing out from under the tree, he said. Some had to be pulled free from the by good Samaritans and rescuers. Witnesses performed CPR on at least one injured woman.
“It’s nuts. This tree is humongous,” he said. “I can’t believe this.”
“They’re taking pictures under this tree and all of a sudden it jut collapsed,” Duran said. We just watched some little kids go flat underneath that tree.”
Duran said he and his group had been standing under the tree only minutes before, but had moved to another spot in search of better lighting for their own photography.
“I hope they’re going to be OK. Pray for these families at Penn Park in Whittier,” he said.
The cause of the mishap was yet to be determined.
“This is an ongoing investigation and it is unknown at this time as to what may have caused the tree to fall,” according to the police statement.
No further details were immediately available.

PHOTO via Keith Durflinger


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Woman killed after alleged street racers slam into her car in Whittier; 2 men arrested

WHITTIER >> A mother driving with her son died after two suspected street racers lost control and crashed along Colima Road in Whittier, sending one of the speeding vehicles slamming into the woman’s car on Friday night, authorities said.
Police arrested Corey James Kiefer, 22, of Whittier, and Jacob Zamora, 22, of Anaheim on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter following the 8:40 p.m. crash in the 7700 block of Colima Road, just north of Mar Vista Street, according to Whittier police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
“It appears as though the individuals arrested were street racing,” Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The identity of the woman who died in the collision was not released Saturday pending positive identification and notification of her family, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. David Smith said. She was initially described as a woman estimated to be in her 40s.
Investigators believe the fatal crash resulted from an illegal street race between a white Hyundai and a black BMW, which were both traveling at “a high rate of speed,” police said in a written statement.
“As the vehicles accelerated adjacent each other, one lost control and struck the other, causing a spin that sent the white Hyundai into opposing lanes, striking an oncoming Honda Accord,” according to the statement. “ The female driver was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital, while her juvenile son was transported to UCI Medical Center as a precautionary measure for minor injuries.”
Kiefer, who was driving the BMW, suffered no injuries in the crash and was arrested at the scene, officials said.
Zamora, who was driving the Hyundai, as well as a passenger, were taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries, officials said. Zamora was later arrested in connection with the deadly crash.
Authorities were yet to determine whether DUI played a role in the collision.
According to county booking records, Kiefer was released from jail Saturday morning pending his initial court appearance after posting $50,000 bail. Zamora remained in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his arraignment hearing.
Anyone with information on the crash 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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Whittier police plan holiday DUI crackdown, checkpoint

WHITTIER >> Police in Whittier are stepping up DUI enforcement through New Year’s Day, starting with a checkpoint to be held on Friday night, authorities said.
The checkpoint will take place from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. David Elizarraras said in a written statement.
The special enforcement campaign will continue through the New Year, however, with saturation patrols and possible additional checkpoints, officials said.
“We want to keep our roads safe for holiday travelers, so we will have zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving,” Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper said.
Funding for the extra enforcement is being provided by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.

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Shuttle bus driver stabbed on South Whittier-La Mirada border, suspect jailed

SOUTH WHITTIER >> A man stabbed a female shuttle bus driver in the chest along the border between La Mirada and South Whittier on Thursday afternoon before deputies apprehended him nearby, officials said.
Paul Rivera, 41, of La Mirada was ultimately booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
The attack took place about 3:10 p.m. on a Sunshine Shuttle bus, operated by the County of Los Angeles, at Leffingwell Road and La Mirada Boulevard, according to the lieutenant.
There were no other passengers onboard when Rivera got onto the bus at a bus stop along the north side of Leffingwell Road, she said.
He asked to be taken to destination that is not part of the shuttles route.
When the driver told Rivera he needed to take a different bus, he became enraged and pulled a knife, Limon said. He stabbed the woman in the abdomen and shoulder with a large steak knife.
The bus driver, a 51-year-old woman, fought back and pushed her attacker away before he abandoned his assault and ran away.
Paramedics took the wounded bus driver to an area trauma center with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, she said.
Responding deputies spotted Rivera, who matched the description of the attacker, nearby and arrested him without a struggle, Limon said. Deputies recovered the knife believed to have been used in the attack.

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Whittier man convicted of $16 million fraud involving video game currency


FORT WORTH, TEXAS >> A federal jury in Texas convicted a Whittier man of wire fraud charges on Wednesday for his role in a scheme to defraud a video game manufacturer of more than $16 million of digital currency for the popular soccer video game, FIFA Football, authorities said.
Anthony Clark, 24, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Kathy Colvin said in a written statement.
“He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution,” she said. Sentencing is scheduled to take place Feb. 27.
Three co-defendants in the case — a 24-year-old New Jersey man, a 24-year-old Texas man and a 24-year-old Virginia man — have already entered guilty pleas and are also awaiting sentencing, officials said.
The alleged scam revolves around “FIFA Coins,” a digital currency used within the popular Electronic Arts video game, FIFA Football, prosecutors explained. Gamers can use the coins, which are generally earned through gameplay, to make purchases in the game.
But a secondary market has also emerged, in which players sell the FIFA coins to each other for cold, hard cash.
“Clark and his co-conspirators circumvented multiple security mechanisms created by EA in order to fraudulently obtain FIFA coins worth over $16 million,” Colvin said.
“Specifically, Clark and his co-conspirators created software that fraudulently logged thousands of FIFA Football matches within a matter of seconds, and as a result, EA computers credited Clark and his co-conspirators with improperly earned FIFA coins,” she said. “Clark and his co-conspirators subsequently exchanged their FIFA coins on the secondary market for over $16 million.”

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UPDATED: Man found fatally shot in car in Uptown Whittier

WHITTIER >> A man was found shot to death behind the steering wheel of a car in Uptown Whittier on Sunday morning, authorities said.
Someone called police just before 9 a.m. to report seeing an unconscious man slumped in the driver seat of a black Lexus sedan parked in the 6300 block of Pickering Avenue, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The car was parked inside a residential garage, with the garage door open, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics pronounced the victim, estimated to be 40 years old, dead at the scene, he said. It appeared he had been shot, and the death was being investigated as a homicide.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting was available as the investigation remained in its early stages, the lieutenant said. No suspects were in custody, and no description was known.
Ellis said investigators suspected that the shooting took place several hours before the victim’s body was discovered. Police received calls reporting gunshots earlier in the morning in the same general area, but responding officers found no evidence of a shooting.
It was not clear whether the reports of gunfire were related to the fatal shooting.
Anyone with information can reach the Whittier Police Department at 562-567-9200. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Two men rob Mexican bakery in South Whittier

SOUTH WHITTIER >> Two men carried out an armed robbery at a Mexican bakery in South Whittier late Friday, officials said.
The crime unfolded about 7 p.m. when two robbers walked in to Panaderia La Mexicana, 14151 Leffingwell Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robin Limon said.
One of the men brandished a silver handgun as the suspects demanded money from the lone employee, the lieutenant said.
The victim turned over about $200, and the robbers were last seen fleeing west through the parking lot on foot, she said. No injuries were reported.
Deputies described the robbers as two Latino man, both between 20 and 25 years old. One wore a blue shirt, while the other wore a gray shirt.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously online to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man fatally shot in West Whittier

WEST WHITTIER >> A man died following a shooting along Washington Boulevard in West Whittier on Thursday night, authorities said.
Few details were initially available regarding the shooting, which was reported just before midnight in the 11000 block of Washington Boulevard, near Norwalk Boulevard in the unincorporated county area, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
The victim, described only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, deputies from the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
No further details, including a suspect description, were available.
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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Elderly man carjacked in Whittier


WHITTIER >> Police are seeking a trio of carjackers who made off with an elderly man’s car following a minor traffic collision in Whittier on Tuesday morning, officials said.
The crime took place about 10:30 a.m. as the victim was driving in the 15700 block of Mar Vista Street, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“The victim was followed by and older model green (Ford) Explorer,” according to the statement. “The explorer rear-ended the victim vehicle, causing the victim to exit his vehicle to exchange information. Two male subjects exited the rear of the Ford explorer and drove off with the victim’s vehicle.”
The driver of the Ford SUV sped away as well, police said.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available. They were riding in a green, older-model Ford Explorer with gray bumpers and oxidation on the hood and roof.
Police obtained images of the suspects’ SUV.
The stolen car — a gray, four-door, 2012 Toyota Avalon with a California license plate of 6VPU334 and a missing rear bumper — remained missing Thursday, Whittier police Officer John Scoggins said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Jose Bolanos at 562-567-9281, or the Whittier Police Department’s crime tip hotline at 562-567-9299.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.



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Man fatally struck by two cars along Whittier Boulevard identified

WHITTIER >> Coroner’s officials on Wednesday released the identity of a 60-year-old man who died after he was struck by two cars along Whittier Boulevard late Saturday.
Felton Berrios, 60, died shortly after he was struck about 8:25 p.m. along Whittier Boulevard, just west of Valley Home Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Elissa Fleak said. He was believed to be homeless.
Berrios was walking south across Whittier boulevard when he was struck by Buick Sentry sedan, then a Mistubishi Outlander SUV, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Berrios was not using crosswalk, police said.
Both drivers remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, Ellis said.

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