PASADENA >> A young woman who offered strangers travel directions ended up getting robbed in return for kindness in Pasadena on Thursday afternoon, officials said.
The crime took place about 5:25 p.m. in the 100 block of South Sierra Madre Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Mark Goodman said.
An 18-year-old woman was walking down the sidewalk when a light-colored, two-door car pulled up alongside her, Goodman said. Two men inside asked for directions to Pasadena City College.
Goodman said the woman offered to help them by looking up directions on her smartphone.
She handed the phone to the passenger so he could see the screen, he said. The passenger grabbed the phone, and also grabbed onto a backpack the victim was wearing.
The woman struggled with the robber and managed to hang on to her backpack, but fell to the ground in the process, the lieutenant said. She suffered an abrasion to her hip but required no medical treatment.
The two robbers sped away with the woman’s cell phone.
Detailed suspect descriptions were not available.
Anyone with information can reach Pasadena police at 626-744-4241. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA PUENTE >> An 18-year-old man accused of crashing his father’s Mercedes-Benz through a La Puente bedroom in which to children were sleeping early Wednesday, then running away, turned himself in to deputies late in the day, authorities said Thursday.
The crash took place about 1:45 a.m. at Temple and Duff avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Lang said.
A 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 was eastbound on Temple Avenue when it veered to the side of the road, crashed through a fence and plowed through the side of a house, Lang said.
Two children sleeping inside the room penetrated by the car were unhurt, Lang said.
The driver got out of the car and ran away, officials said. He left his tennis shoes behind in the car as he fled.
The 18-year-old suspect showed up at the sheriff’s Industry Station Wednesday afternoon with his father and turned himself in, Sgt. Gina Eguia said. The car turned out to belong to his father.
Deputies issued the driver a misdemeanor citation for hit-and-run, she said. His name was not available Thursday afternoon.
PHOTO by Pedro F. Garcia
EL MONTE >> A man suffered serious injuries but is expected to survive after he was found shot in the backyard of an El Monte home early Thursday, authorities said.
Residents called police to report gunfire about 8:30 a.m. along Rio Hondo Parkway, just east of La Madera Avenue, El Monte police Lt. Ernie Kramer said.
Thje victim, a man estimated to be in his 20s, was found in the backyard of a home suffering from three gunshot wounds, the lieutenant said.
Paramedics took the wounded man to hospital, where he was listed in critical-but-stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery, Kramer said.
No further details, including a suspect description or a motive, were available Thursday afternoon.
A black car was seen leaving the area about the time of the shooting, but it was not yet clear if that car had been involved.
Anyone with information can reach the El Monte Police Department at 626-580-2110.
PHOTO by Leo Jarzomb
ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested a package delivery driver after discovering more than $30,000 worth of allegedly stolen goods, primarily destined for Alhambra homes, stashed at his home in East Los Angeles this week, authorities said.
Eden Sergio Ortega, 37, was booked on suspicion of grand theft following his arrest on Tuesday night, according to Alhambra police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He worked a route in Alhambra, delivering packages for companies such as Best Buy, Nordstrom, Sephora and UGG, according to Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson.
Alhambra police launched an investigation in January in regard to a rash of package thefts.
“Detectives soon learned that these package thefts were not random acts, but in fact thefts perpetrated by one individual,” Alhambra police officials said in a written statement. “The thefts are believed to have begun approximately two years ago, with a majority of the thefts taking place in the later part of 2016.”
Upon examining delivery records of to the stolen packaged, and aided by an anonymous tip, detectives identified Ortega as a suspect in the ongoing thefts, Johnson said. The vast majority of thefts took place along Ortega’s route, and packages were often reported missing after being marked electronically by Ortega as having been delivered.
Police showed up Tuesday night at Ortega’s home in the 5300 block of Verona Street in East Los Angeles.
“During the search, detectives collected over seventy pieces of evidence and merchandise believed to have been related to packages that were never delivered by the delivery driver,” according to the police statement. “Some of the items were found in their original packaging stored in the suspect’s closet. Other items found inside his home were relatively new and being used by the suspect and his family.”
Recovered items included cell phones, computers, high-end clothing, toys and three big-screen TVs, still in their original packaging.
“Detectives also found shipping boxes and labels listing the intended buyer’s information,” the statement said. All of the victims identified as of Thursday were Alhambra residents.
Police declined to name the delivery company, citing a request by the business to withhold it.
“The company asked us not to use their name. We’re going to respect their request,” Alhambra police said via their Facebook page.
When pressed further, Johnson said that Police Records Manager May Ung related that the department was withholding the company’s name because it would jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
Several local residents who took the Alhambra Police Department’s Facebook page to comment on the arrest, however, said they recognized the suspect a driver from OnTrac shipping.
An executive with OnTrac said the company is taking the matter seriously, and thanked the Alhambra Police Department for their “swift action on the initial reports that we provided on Eden Ortega.”
“OnTrac has been aware of the situation as the OnTrac Loss Prevention team investigated the independent contractor prior to turning the information over to the authorities,” OnTrac Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing Laura Peterson said in a written statement.
“OnTrac has zero tolerance with this type of behavior,” Peterson added. “We will continue to aggressively pursue investigations and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to county booking records, Ortega was released from custody Wednesday, pending his initial court appearance, after posting $20,000 bail.
PHOTO of Eden Sergio Ortega, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department
ARCADIA >> A en elderly Temple City woman who went missing while grocery shopping in Arcadia on Wednesday was found safe and sound on Thursday, polcie said.
Juiyun Hu, 79, disappeared about 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Arcadia Supermarket, 645 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia police Lt. Roy Nakamura said.
She was grocery shopping with her husband and son when she became separated from them, he said. Her family was unable to find her and reported her missing.
A surveillance camera at the store captured video of Hu appearing possibly disoriented as she walked out of the store with a shopping cart.
After reaching out to public to seek, Police in Alhambra found and recognized Hu in their city, Sgt. Tony Juarez. She was unharmed and reunited with her family.
BALDWIN PARK >> As part of its ongoing efforts to keep young drivers and the motoring public at-large safe behind the wheel, the California Highway Patrol is hosting a free safe driving class for teens and their parents on Friday, officials said.
Both new and soon-to-be drivers are invited to take part in thetwo-hour “Start Smart Class,” which will be held at 6:16 p.m. Friday at the CHP’s Baldwin Park-area office, 14039 Francisquito Ave., CHP Officer Rodrigo Jimenez said.
The class focuses on safe habits, responsible decisions and collision avoidance.
Photos and pictures depicting the results of bad decisions behind the wheel will be displayed, and teens must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A driver’s license is not required to participate.
To reserve a space, or for more information, Officer Jimenez can be reached at 626-338-1164, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena gang member accused of shooting at a police officer before being wounded himself and arrested pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with the incident, authorities said Wednesday.
Francisco Flores, 23, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of assault on a peace officer with a firearm, discharging a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of methamphetamine while armed with a handgun, with allegations the crimes gang-related, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement. He’s expected to be sentenced to 35 years in prison when he returns to Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on March 17.
He was a passenger in a car two officers tried to pull over about 9:15 a.m. on April 8, 2016, at Buckeye Street and Los Robles Avenue. The car came to an abrupt stop at Buckeye Street and Adena Avenue, where Flores ran from the vehicle.
An officer followed Flores, according to the police statement. “While running, suspect Flores looked back at (the pursuing officer), pointed a gun at the officer and fired three rounds, fortunately missing.”
The officer returned fire, striking Flores, police said. Flores was treated for his wounds and has since recovered.
Flores was already out on bail pending an illegal gun possession case at the time of the shooting, officials said.
EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 22-year-old man who was fatally stabbed as he walked along Peck Road with his cousin on Sunday.
Alejandro Rojas died at a hospital about an hour after the stabbing, which took place about 11:40 a.m. Sunday outside a liquor store in the 4200 block of Peck Road, Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He died four days after his 22nd birthday.
He was walking down the street, accompanied by his cousin, when a car heading north along Peck Road pulled up alongside them, according deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau.
An attacker exited the passenger side of the car and confronted the cousins before pulling a knife and stabbing Rojas in the chest, the deputy said.
The killer returned to the vehicle, which sped away, officials said. A detailed description of the attacker and their car was not available. The motive was unclear.
Rojas was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.
His cousin was unhurt in the attack, Navarro-Suarez said.
The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting El Monte police with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact homicide detectives ar 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
WHITTIER >> The gang member accused of killing a Whittier police officer and another man on Monday, as well as wounding another police officer, remained hospitalized in a intensive care unit Wednesday as detectives continued gathering evidence and the community continued mourning and seeking answers.
Investigators were yet to interview Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, of Los Angeles, as he continued receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the back sustained in Monday morning’s gunfight with the Whittier, Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau said. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.
The tight-knit Whittier community has rallied around the family of Officer Keith Boyer, a 53-year-old Whittier resident, 28-year lawman, father, grandfather and classic rock drummer.
Officer Patrick Hazell, who was wounded in the abdomen in the shootout, was released from the hospital and continuing his recovery at home, Corina said. His father said the wounded officer did not wish to comment at this time.
Mejia, a documented gang member who was on felony probation, or “Post-Release Community Supervision,” under the terms of AB 109, is also accused of gunning down his cousin about 5:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Volney Drive in East Los Angeles, less than three hours before the violent encounter with police in Whittier.
Family members said Mejia showed up the Torres home and confronted Torres inside the converted garage the victim used as his bedroom.
The men possibly became involved in an argument prior to the shooting, relatives said. Following the shooting, Mejia allegedly fled in Torres car, which he soon crashed in Whittier.
An autopsy determined Torres died from a single gunshot wound to the head, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said. The death was ruled a homicide.
No further details of the East Los Angeles slaying, including a motive, have not been released.Mejia was driving a stolen car when became involved in a minor crash with two other vehicles at Colima Road and Mar Vista Avenue about 8 a.m., Corina said.
Police arrive at the scene after the other drivers had helped Mejia push the car he was driving to the side of the road.
“They asked him to get out of the car. That’s when the shooting occurred,” Corina said.
Mejia suddenly drew a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire, striking both officers.
One of the officer managed to return fire and wound Mejia, who was taken into custody at the scene by fellow officers, officials said.
It was unclear which of the officers wounded the suspect. Corina declined to discuss whether one, or both, of the officers fired their weapons.
Mejia’s gun was recovered at the scene, Corina said.
The involved officers were not wearing body camera, and Corina said he was not aware of any video recordings of the deadly encounter between Mejia and Whittier police.
Mejia was expected to be charged in connection with the case once he’s out of the hospital, the lieutenant said.
Mejia had prior convictions for robbery, and most recently, auto theft, officials said.
He as been re-arrested for probation violations five times since being released from prison for the auto theft conviction, each time resulting in 9- or 10-day “flash incarcerations,” under the terms of AB 109, also known as the “California Public Safety Realignment” of 2011, records show.
Details regarding the circumstances of each arrest were not available, however none resulted in the filing of a new criminal case.
At least one of the arrests was for possession of methamphetamine, Corina said.
Possession of methamphetamine had traditionally been a felony in California, punishable by a year or more in prison, but was reduced to a misdemeanor by Proposition 47, passed by California voters in 2014.
Mejia’s criminal record has raised concerns of law enforcement officers, politicians and others, who are questioning whether Mejia should have been behind bars, rather than out on the street, on Monday.
A documented gang member, and an apparently proud one, Mejia bears the letters “W” and “G” tattooed prominently across his face in capital letters. The same abbreviation, which stands for an East Los Angeles street gang, is also tattooed on Mejia’s neck in lower-case letters.
Services for Boyer have not been announced.
The Whittier Police Department is accepting donations to benefit Boyer’s family. He’s survived by a fiancee, four children and two grandchildren.
Checks can be made out to “WPOA Benevolent Fund,” and reference account No. 488879. Contributions can be dropped off in person at the Whittier Police Department, 13200 Penn Street, in person at the Credit Union of Southern California at 8028 Greenleaf Ave. or mailed to the Credit Union of Southern California, WPOA Benevolent Fund, attention David Valencia, PO Box 200, Whittier, CA 90608.
Any witnesses, or anyone with information, regarding Monday’s incident is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
PHOTO of Michael C. Mejia courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departement
LA PUENTE >> Two children escaped injury when a car plowed through their bedroom in La Puente early Wednesday morning, authorities said. The driver ran away and remained at-large Wednesday afternoon.
The crash took place about 1:45 a.m. at the corner of Temple and Duff avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Michael Lang said.
A 2015-Mercedes-Benz C300 was eastbound on Temple Avenue when the driver lost control, the deputy said. The car struck the curb or wheelchair ramp, then smashed through a fence and into the side of the home.
The vehicle ended up embedded about halfway into the bedroom, in which two children were sleeping, Lang said. Neither child was injured.
The driver abandoned the wrecked Mercedes and fled the scene on foot, Lang said. He was initially described as a man between 20 and 25 years old.
The crash was caught on video by a nearby surveillance camera, Lang said. Investigators were working to obtain a copy of the recording.
Deputies continued seeking the driver, as well as the registered owner, of the car Wednesday afternoon.
Lang urged the driver to turn himself in.
Anyone with information can reach the sheriff’s Industry Station at 626-330-3322.