UPDATED: Man fatally shot in front of his home in Whittier

WHITTIER >> A man died after being shot in broad daylight Saturday in front of his Whittier home, authorities said.
Police responded to reports of a shooting about 12:10 p.m. at the corner of Washington Avenue and La Cuarta Street, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
The victim, a 34-year-old Whittier man, was found lying unconscious outside, Ellis said.
0831_NWS_WDN-L-SHOOTINGDEATH2“Officers performed CPR. He was subsequently transported to (Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center) where he was pronounced dead,” Lt. Mike Przybyl said.
The victim had been shot once in the torso, he said.
His name was withheld pending notification of family members, officials said.
At least one suspect — described only as a man — was believed to have fled the scene in a vehicle, Przybyl said, however a further description of the suspect or the getaway car was not available.
The motive in the shooting also remained under investigation, Przybyl said.
“We’re developing further, and at this point, we’re still trying to follow up on some of that,” he said.
0831_NWS_WDN-L-SHOOTINGDEATH3Neighbors expressed sorrow for the victim’s family. They added that the home is occupied by several children.
Detectives examined items including an ice chest, an overturned plastic been full of clothing and a cell phone strewn along the street and sidewalk at the scene of the shooting.
Detectives continued interviewing witnesses, taking measurements and collecting clues well into the afternoon.
Detectives continued investigating the scene and interviewing witnesses of the midday shooting Saturday afternoon, he said.
Anyone with information can contact Whittier police at 562-567-9200.

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Young woman killed, two other people in critical condition following solo-car crash in Whittier

WHITTIER >> A 19-year-old woman died and two others were hospitalized in critical condition following a solo-car crash along Beverly Boulevard early Saturday, officials said.
The dead woman, who was a passenger in the car, succumbed to her injuries at the hospital, Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Her name was not released Saturday pending positive identification and notification of family members, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. David Smith said.
A second passenger, described as a 21-year-old woman, and the driver, a 25-year-old man, suffered major injuries and were listed in critical condition at a hospital.
The crash was reported at 1:07 a.m. on Beverly Boulevard, just west of Citrus Avenue, Ellis said.
“A blue, 1998 Chevy Malibu traveling westbound on Beverly Boulevard lost control near Citrus Avenue, shearing off a fire hydrant, and impacted a large pine tree,” the lieutenant said.
The Malibu came to a stop against the tree, and both passengers were thrown from the car, he said.
The crash took place just before a sharp curve in the roadway. No other vehicles were believed to have been involved.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation by Whittier Police Department’s Traffic Bureau.

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Hundreds march in honor of slain sheriff’s Explorer in South Whittier


SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of people took part in a vigil in South Whittier late Thursday to commemorate the third anniversary of the fatal shooting of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Explorer and lifelong Whittier resident Cesar Rodriguez.
The observance included a march to the scene of the shooting that claimed the life of Rodriguez, 19, and friend Larry Villegas, 24, of Whittier on Aug. 28, 2011.
Loved ones placed candles at the shooting scene outside a home in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue in South Whittier before continuing on to Amelia Mayberry Park.
The march was led by fellow Explorers from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, where Rodriguez had volunteered for four years. And his legacy lives in.
“He was my inspiration to become an Explorer,” Alejandra Garcia, 16, said as she participated in the march while carrying a framed photograph of Rodriguez.
IMG_5398The fatal shootings of Rodriguez and Villegas remain unsolved, and no description of the killer or killers is known, investigators said.
Though officials initially reported a white Scion vehicle was being sought in connection with the crime, the car has since been located and found not to be involved, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTOS by James Carbone

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Vigil planned for sheriff’s Explorer slain in South Whittier drive-by shooting


SOUTH WHITTIER >> Family members and loved ones of a 19-year-old Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout plan to gather for a vigil Thursday to mark the third anniversary of his unsolved slaying.
Cesar Rodriguez, a lifelong Whittier resident who had spent his last four years volunteering as an Explorer at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, was gunned down along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, in the early-morning hours of Aug. 28, 2011 in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue, according to sheriff’s investigators and family members.
He’s survived his parents Jorge and Lupe Rodriguez, as well as older brothers George and Hector Rodriguez.
“We’re trying to stay strong,” George Rodriguez said.
Thursday’s vigil will be held at 7 p.m. at Laurel and Beaty avenues, near the shooting scene in South Whittier.
Community support has continued to grow in the three years since Cesar Rodriguez’s
At a march held last year on the second anniversary of the shooting, nearly 300 people attended, he said. About 150 people marched in a similar gathering in 2012.
Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas were shot as they left a party, sheriff’s officials said. The shots were believed to have been fired from a passing vehicle, though no specific description was available.
A white Scion initially described by investigators as a suspect vehicle has been found and determined not to have been the killer’s car, Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Rodriguez and Villegas died at the scene.
Patrick Maxwell, who served as captain of the sheriff’s Norwalk Station while Rodriguez volunteered there and has since been promoted to the rank of commander, described Rodriguez as a selfless and eager young man who was always polite and respectful. he has a lifelong dream of becoming a sheriff’s deputy, Maxwell said, and had turned in his application to join the sheriff’s department as a deputy a week before his killing.
At Rodriguez’s funeral, then-sheriff Lee Baca said Rodriguez was an exemplary Explorer Scout and a leader who was on a “noble path.”
Rodriguez was buried in his Explorer uniform.
The search for the killer or killers of Rodriguez and Villegas continues, and detectives have followed up on new clues in the case in recent months, Corina said.
A motive was not known with certainty, however Corina said investigators suspected the killings stemmed from a gang shooting.
George Rodriguez said the family remained hopeful the case would be solved, and Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers will be brought to justice.
Former sheriff Baca had promised the family the investigation would be a top priority of the sheriff’s department, George Rodriguez said. The brother said he hoped that would remain true under the department’s new leadership following the November runoff election for sheriff between Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell and former undersheriff Paul Tanaka.
Anyone with information on the double-fatal shooting is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

PHOTO of Cesar Rodriguez courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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UPDATED: Missing 12-year-old Whittier girl found safe

WHITTIER >> For the second time this month, a 12-year-old Whittier girl has been found safe and sound after she went missing Tuesday, police said.
Police asked the public to keep an eye out for a 12-year-old Whittier girl who went missing from her family home about in the 9600 block of El Venado Drive about 2 p.m., Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“(The girl) walked away from her parents’ house and has not been seen since and her family is concerned,” according to the police statement.
But she turned up Thursday at a relative’s home, safe and sound, Whittier police Lt. Aaron Ruiz said.
The girl previously went missing after running away from her home July 18 following an argument with her parents, according to Whittier police Lt. Bryan Ellis.
She was found safe the following day at a relative’s home in Montebello.

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16 cited, 2 arrested at Whittier police checkpoint

WHITTIER >> Police issued 16 citations and arrested two people with active warrants during a sobriety and driver’s license checkpoint in Whittier over the weekend, officials said.
The checkpoint was held Friday night into Saturday morning at Lambert Road and Scott Avenue, Whittier Police Lt. Bryan Ellis said.
Two drivers were given field sobriety tests, however no arrests for intoxicated driving were made, the lieutenant said.
Slightly more than 950 vehicles were screened at the checkpoint, he said.
Officers issued five tickets to unlicensed drivers, two tickets to people driving on suspended licenses and nine other citations for various violations, Ellis said.
The two vehicles being operated by the drivers with suspended licenses were impounded, Ellis said.
The checkpoint was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Police plan checkpoint in Whittier

WHITTIER — Police plan to check drivers for sobriety and valid drivers’ licenses during a checkpoint late Friday in Whittier, authorities said.
The checkpoint will be held from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 2:30 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within the city, Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years in the cities of Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, DUI collisions have claimed 4 lives and resulted in 119 injury crashes harming 167 of our friends and neighbors,” Hanson said.
Checkpoints have been shown to be effective in deterring DUI, he added.
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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Shooting suspect remains at large following stand-off at South Whittier apartment complex

SOUTH WHITTIER — A shooting suspect who was believed holed-up inside a South Whittier apartment remained at large late Saturday after a SWAT team forced their way into the home following a five-hour stand-off and did not find the man, authorities said.
The incident began about 3:15 p.m. when deputies received several 9-1-1 calls reporting a man was shooting at someone in a strip mall parking lot in the 15600 block of Leffingwell Road, in an unincorporated county area south of Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
The victim did not report the shooting and did not turn up at any local hospitals, Navares said. It was not known whether he was struck by the gunfire.
Navares said the shooter drove a car next door to an apartment complex, where he was seen running into an apartment, the sergeant said.
Deputies surrounded the apartment and summoned a SWAT team, he said. Officials ordered anyone inside the apartment to come out with no response. The SWAT team entered the apartment about 9 p.m., finding no one inside.
The name of the suspect, a man in his mid-30s, was known to investigators but not released Saturday.
The suspect’s car was taken as evidence, Navares said.

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Hundreds flock to Whittier park for @hiddencash scavenger hunt

"7-10-14 FATALCRASH10"

WHITTIER >> The philanthropic social media phenomenon known as @hiddencash surfaced at a Whittier park Thursday night, where hundreds of people showed up to take part in a scavenger hunt by flashlight.
Secluded Penn Park became the latest scene of the Twitter-fueled frenzy after the @hiddencash Twitter account first gave clues to the location where Pez candy dispensers stuffed with cash had been hidden. A handful of treasure hunters who solved the clues arrived first at the secluded park, followed by hundreds more when @hiddencash announced the park by name about 9:30 p.m.
Twenty-five Pez dispensers were hidden at the park, along with two boxes of Pez dispensers, according to @hiddencash.
The candy dispensers contained $40 to $50, while the bonus boxes included $100.
Vanessa Garcia, 26, of Whittier found a Pez dispenser containing $40.
“I’ve never seen so many people here, especially at night,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Garcia’s sister, 22-year-old Alejandra Garcia of Whittier, found one of the bonus boxes.
Alejandra Garcia said she had not yet decided what to do with her newly-found $100. “I haven’t thought about it,” she said.
Kim Vaughn, 43, of Whittier said she was thrilled the scavenger hunt was being held in her town. She searched Penn Park with her husband and children.
“We’ve been following (@hiddencash) all along, just waiting for one nearby,” Vaughn said.
Some searchers brought large flashlights with them. Others searched by the light of their cell phones.
Additionally, @hiddencash tweeted late Thursday that additional loose bills had been hidden along Greenleaf Avenue in Uptown Whittier.
The cash seekers took it in stride when the park sprinklers turned on midway through the event.
“Sorry about the sprinklers! Didn’t plan that,” @hiddencash tweeted.
And while the atmosphere was festive, not everyone was thrilled with the large event at the park in a residential neighborhood, accessible only by one street. Traffic became gridlocked along Penn Street during the scavenger hunt.
“This is awful,” Anthony Nerlino, 26, of Whittier said as people climbed through bushes, next to signs advising visitors to stay out of the shrubbery.
“How much is it going to cost to fix that,” Nerlino said.
Police dealt with large crowds and traffic due to the event, but no major incidents were reported, Whittier police Capt. Aviv Bar said. The park was to be checked in the morning for any possible damage.
Another money drop, this time in Orange County, was to be announced at 10 a.m. Friday, according to @hiddencash.

PHOTO by Keith Durflinger – GALLERY

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Whittier police launch motorcycle safety enforcement campaign

The Whittier Police Department had begun a month-long extra enforcement campaign aimed at improving motorcycle safety and reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused motorcycle crashes, officials said.
Throughout July, extra officers will be on patrol, focusing their efforts on areas frequented by motorcycles and where motorcycle crashes are known to occur, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers and riders alike that can lead to motorcycle crashes,” according to the statement. “ They will be cracking down on both those operating regular vehicles and motorcycles that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, making illegal turns or any other dangerous violation.”
In Whittier and Santa Fe Springs, five fatal motorcycle crashes and 87 injury motorcycle crashes have occurred withint the past three years, officials said.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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