Police: Covina stabbing suspect jailed after returning to scene of crime

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COVINA — Police arrested a stabbing suspect Sunday after he returned to the scene of the crime in search of the knife used in the attack, police said.
Manual Alexander Valdez, 24, of Azusa was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the 3:30 a.m. stabbing in the 1100 block of East Wingate Avenue, Covina police Sgt. Jim McDonough said.
Valdez was acquainted with the victim, a 25-year-old man, and they arrived together to visit a home in the neighborhood, the sergeant said.
“(Valdez) thinks the victim is hitting on his girlfriend and an argument ensues,” the sergeant said.
The men continued arguing as they walked down the street, where Valdez allegedly stabbed the victim in the arm, police said. The wounded man suffered a severed artery and was hospitalized in serious condition.
The attacker had fled the area when officers arrived, but a witness reported seeing a man looking through some nearby bushes with a flashlight just prior to their arrival, McDonough said. The man fled as police approached, and investigators suspected it was the suspect trying to recover the weapon used in the stabbing.
Unbeknownst to Valdez, McDonough said, police found a set of brass knuckled with a blade attached that was believed to have been used in the attack at the scene.
As the investigation continued, police identified Valdez as the suspect and began keeping watch over his Azusa home, McDonough said.
But police received a call from the same neighborhood where the stabbing occurred about 11 a.m. reporting that a man was again searching through the bushes, the sergeant said.
Police rushed to the area and pulled Valdez over as he was driving out of the neighborhood, McDonough said. He was arrested in connection with the stabbing, and also had a small amount of what police believed to be heroin with him.
Valdez had blood splattered on his pants and shoes when arrested, the sergeant added.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, Valdez was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his arraignment, scheduled Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.

Suspect in Azusa bar shooting wounded by security guard

AZUSA — A security guard shot and wounded an assailant who shot and wounded another patron an a bar in an unincorporated county area near Azusa early Sunday, officials said.
The shooting broke out just after midnight at El Palenque, 17010 E Gladstone Street, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Rebecca Rodriquez said.
“There was an argument between two males,” the sergeant said. It was not clear what the men argued about.
“The suspect shot the victim. He suffered a life-threatening injury that required emergency surgery,” Rodriquez said. The wounded man, whose age and city were not available, was hospitalized in critical condition with a wound to his abdomen.
The suspect tried to shoot at a security as he fled the bar, Rodriguez said. But the security guard fired on the gunman, striking him in the shoulder.
Officers arrived took the wounded suspect, described as a 33-year-old Azusa man, into custody without a struggle, the sergeant said. He was hospitalized with a wound not considered to be life-threatening. His name was not released Sunday afternoon pending booking on suspicion of attempted murder.
Rodriquez said the security guard was believed to have acted lawfully in the shooting.

UPDATED: Man pronounced dead after solo-car crash in West Covina


WEST COVINA >> A man died at the scene of a solo-car crash in West Covina early Sunday, officials said.
The crash took place about 9 a.m. at Francisquito and Sunset avenues, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
The driver had not been positively identified, however he was believed to be a West Covina man in his mid-40s, West Covina police Sgt. Keith Shishido said.
“It appears that he was traveling westbound on Francisquito Avenue,” Patton said.
20140413_111944 (1)After traveling through the intersection, the older-model Toyota Camry struck brick wall in front of a home along the north side of Francisquito Avenue, just west of Sunset Avenue.
The car slid along the brick and metal gate, narrowly squeezing between the wall and a traffic signal pole and a tree before slamming into another tree along the sidewalk, Shishido said.
Paramedics found the badly injured driver slumped over the steering wheel, Patton said. “He was pronounced dead at the scene by fire personnel.”
“We’re relatively certain the speed had something to do with it,” Shishido said.
“There was a witness. The witness was indicating that the vehicle did appear to be traveling a little higher-than-normal rate of speed,” he said.
Police had not yet determined whether intoxicated driving was a factor in the fatal crash, Shishido.
No other vehicles were believed to be involved in the crash, the sergeant added.

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Police: Serial killers arrested in Orange County; suspected in the slayings of four women

ANAHEIM >> Two registered sex offenders have been arrested in connection with the murder of four women across Orange County, including one whose body turned up at an Anaheim recycling plant and three who disappeared in Santa Ana, police said Saturday.
Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were arrested about an hour apart near their RVs on Friday, Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn said.“We believe we have two serial killers in custody and we have stopped them in their tracks,” he said.
Cano was arrested about 6 p.m. in the 5100 block of East La Palma Avenue in Anaheim, and Fordon was arrested just after 7 p.m. in the 3100 block of E. La Palma Avenue, Santa Ana police officials said.
Dunn said detectives in Santa Ana and Anaheim launched a joint investigation after the naked body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, was found in the conveyor belt of the recycling plant last month. The probe led detectives to connect the men to her slaying, and the disappearance of three women who frequented a Santa Ana neighborhood known for drug dealing and prostitution.
Santa Ana police identified the three other missing women as Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas, who was last seen in Santa Ana on October 6, 2013; Josephine Vargas, 34, of Santa Ana, who was last seen in Santa Ana on October 24, 2013; and Martha Anaya, 28, Resident of Santa Ana. She was last seen in Santa Ana on November 12, 2013.”
The Los Angeles Times says outreach workers with an Oklahoma nonprofit had frequent contact with Estepp in Oklahoma City in 2012, when she was featured in several videos of street life posted on YouTube and elsewhere.
Though no other suspects were thought to be involved, Dunn said detectives were continuing to look for more potential victims across the country.
The Orange County Register reports both men were convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on children under 14 years old. As a requirement of their conviction, both were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets, though officials wouldn’t say whether the tracking devices played a role in linking Gordon and Cano to the women.
No further details were released pending a news conference planned for Monday.

- Staff and AP report

Man fatally shot in Pico Rivera

PICO RIVERA >> A man died at a hospital late Saturday after being shot in Pico Rivera, authorities said.
Deputies first responded to the incident shortly after 7 p.m. at Beverly Boulevard and Pine Street, deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau said in a written statement.
Officials took the wounded man to an area hospital where he was rushed into surgery, Lt. Andrew Meyer of the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station said.
His identity was not available early Sunday.
The wounded man succumbed to his injuries a short time later, sheriff’s officials said.
No information regarding a suspect description or motive was released.
Deputies shut down Beverly Boulevard between Paramount Boulevard and Rea Drive as detectives investigated the scene. The investigation is being handled by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

El Monte High School Lions pay tribute to classmate killed in tour bus crash


EL MONTE >> A steady stream of El Monte High School Lions stopped by a memorial in front of the campus Saturday to light candles and pay their respects to classmate Adrian Castro, who lost his life along with nine other people in a fiery bus crash in Orland while en route to tour his prospective college.
The 18-year-old El Monte High School senior is unaccounted after a FedEx truck collided head-on with a tour bus containing 44 Southern California high school students, three adult chaperones and a driver. His family members have said they’ve been informed he is among the dead, though officials identification through Glenn County coroner’s officials was pending.
Five students, the three chaperones, the bus driver and the truck driver all died following the crash. The bus was on a trip to bring underrepresented Southern California High School seniors to visit the campus of Humboldt State University.

2014-04-12 14.39.54Friends recalled Castro as a popular, outgoing and loyal young man as they lit candles, left flowers and wrote messages to the young man. Monster energy drinks, a baseball glove, beer, baseball caps and other mementos also lined the sidewalk in front of El Monte High School, where Castro played football and baseball.
“He had a very bright personality,” said Robert Medina, a junior who transferred this year from El Monte High School to Mountain View High School.
“He used to back everyone up,” Medina said. “His thing was, since we’re all Lions, we’re all a family.”
Though Medina said he and others initially held out hope for a miracle, that Castro would be found alive, he said he’s accepted that his friend is gone.
“He’s in a very better place,” Medina said.
Friend Bryana Ruiz, said Castro was a good friend.
“He was just a great student. Everyone loved him, everyone knew he was. Not because he was popular, but for what he was doing and what he wanted to accomplish in life,” Ruiz said. “We all just loved him and we’re all going to miss him a lot. He was always number one in our hearts.”
Some visitors at the memorial knew Castro well. Others had not met him, but nonetheless wanted to show their support for his family and their classmates.
El Monte High School freshman Andres Huerta stopped by to light a candle at the sidewalk memorial.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know him,” he said. But he said he still felt compelled to visit the school Saturday, “to pay my respects to the family.”
“Lions stick together,” Huerta added.
— Staff Writer John McCoy contributed to this report.

 

UPDATED: Red Cross closes Orland shelter, establishes hotline for families affected by tour bus crash

LOS ANGELES >> The American Red Cross closed it’s Orland shelter Saturday and established a 24-hour hotline Saturday to help families affected by Thursday’s tour bus crash in Orland, which claimed 10 lives and injured more than 30 others, offiials said.
The Red Cross shelter set up in Orland to accommodate those affected by the crash closed early Saturday as it was no longer needed, Red Cross Los Angeles Region spokeswoman Terri Corigliano said. No one stayed overnight at the shelter late Friday into early Saturday.
But the relief organization’s efforts to comfort the afflicted continued.
“The American Red Cross would like to express our condolences to those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy,” Red Cross Los Angeles Region officials said in a written statement. “Our thoughts are also with those who were injured and their families.
“Beginning immediately, families affected by this tragedy can call the Red Cross hotline for assistance,” the statement said. The number is 800-540-2000.
“It doesn’t matter where you live in California,” Corigliano said. “We will help you by connecting you with the Red Cross nearest you, so we will meet you where you are.”
Red Cross caseworkers will be on-hand to meet with families needing additional mental health support, help with travel, and other expenses associated with the tragedy,” Corigliano sad. Services are available in both English and Spanish.
Mental health services appeared to be the most in-demand Saturday, Corigliano said.
“Right now, in general, I would say both in the Orland area and here, (the need) is for counseling,” she said.
“As we proceed in the coming days, we’ll be able to see what people need assistance with, so well be able too render that assistance.”
The Red Cross is working with school districts affected by the crash, as well as other community organizations, officials said.
As schools affected by the crash begin holding memorials, Corigliano said, “We will certainly be available should we be needed in any of those circumstances.

Motorcyclist hurt in 210 Freeway crash in Duarte

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DUARTE >> Rescuers rushed an injured motorcyclist to a trauma center Friday following a crash on the 210 Freeway in Duarte, authorities said.
The crash involved the motorcycle, and SUV and a third vehicle and was first reported about 6:02 p.m. on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just west of the 605 Freeway, Los Angeles County Fire Department and California Highway Patrol officials said.
The cyclist, a 48-year-old man, appeared to have rear-ended the SUV, fire Capt. Jeffrey Myers said. “His helmet went through the back window.”
But the Northridge man was conscious and breathing as paramedics loaded him into a helicopter at nearby Encanto Park and rushed him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment.
“His injuries are major,” CHP Officer Monica Posada said.
Myers said the rider was likely spared more severe injuries by his protective gear, including a helmet and leathers.
The driver of the SUV, a 46-year-old West Covina man, was also taken to a hospital with apparently minor injuries, Myers said.
CHP officials described the SUV as a Nissan Pathfinder which sustained “moderate” rear-end damage.
Details regarding the third vehicle involved in the crash were not available, however two 40-year-old San Bernardino men inside of it were not injured, Posada said.
CHP officials issued a Sig Alert for the carpool and two left lanes of the freeway for about an hour following the crash.
Officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP were investigating the collision. No further details were available.

PHOTO: Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Doctor from La Mirada accused of illegally prescribing drugs, money laundering

LOS ANGELES >> A doctor from La Mirada surrendered to federal authorities Thursday after being indicted on charges of illegally prescribing powerful painkillers and other drugs and laundering the proceeds from the illicit sales, authorities said.
Andrew Sun, 78, turned himself in at the United States Courthouse in Los Angeles, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on March 18 charging him with 24 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, as well as four counts of money laundering.
Sun operated medical clinics in San Gabriel and East Los Angeles, according to federal officials.
“Sun prescribed drugs, including hydrocodone, to undercover agents on 13 separate occasions, each time in exchange for $150 cash,” Mrozek said.
The prescriptions were written between July of 2011 and April of 2012, according to the federal indictment.
In once instance, “Sun encouraged an undercover agent to provide a fraudulent justification for the ‘maximum’ allowable number of extra-strength Vicodin pills,” Mrozek said.
Other drugs allegedly prescribed illegally by the doctor include Xanax, Soma, Valium and cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine.
The indictment alleges that Sun prescribed the powerful drugs, “while acting and intending to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.”
Investigators noted that between mid-2009 and mid-2010, Sun issued nearly 5,000 prescriptions for controlled substances.
In addition to illegally selling drugs, “The indictment also charges Sun with four counts of laundering the proceeds generated by his illegal prescriptions,” Mrozek said. “The indictment charges Sun with laundering cash on four specific occasions when he deposited thousands of dollars in cash on dates that undercover agents met with him and received prescriptions,” Mrozek said.
The indictment lists $16,950 in allegedly laundered funds, which were deposited between July of 2011 and March of 2012.
While looking into the doctor, IRS investigators determined Sun and his wife controlled 44 bank accounts, and Sun had deposited more than $1.1 million in cash into the accounts between 2008 and 2012, according to the DOJ officials.
After pleading not guilty to all 28 charges, Sun was released from custody on a $500,000 bond, Mrozek said. A trial date was scheduled for May 27.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the California Medical Board, the California Department of Health Care Services and the Monterey Park Police Department took part in the investigation.
Sun’s medical license has been suspended since late 2013 and he is barred from practicing medicine, according to a California Department of Consumer Affairs database.
He was first licensed to practice medicine in 1967 after graduating Harvard Medical School in 1966, records show.
If convicted as charged, Sun faces up to 248 years in federal prison, officials said.

Pasadena police plan checkpoint this weekend

PASADENA >> Police will check drivers for sobriety and valid licenses during a checkpoint this weekend.
The checkpoint will be held from 8 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location within Pasadena, Pasadena police Lt. Pete Hettema said in a written statement.
“Over the course of the past three years, DUI collisions have claimed 4 lives and resulted in 70 injury crashes harming 95 of our friends and neighbors,” Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said.
The department’s last checkpoint was held late March 14 into March 15, the night of St. Patrick’s Day.
During that checkpoint, police administered field sobriety tests to 24 drivers, arresting seven on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, Hettema said. Nine drivers were cited for driving without licenses, and one driver was arrested for driving on a suspended license. Six cars were impounded.
Pasadena police held another checkpoint late Feb. 21 into Feb. 22.
In that case, police arrested five drivers on suspicion of DUI and one person due to outstanding warrants, Hettema said.
Twelve drivers were cited for driving without licenses during the February checkpoint, and two were cited for driving on suspended licenses, Hettema said. Two vehicles were impounded.
The checkpoints are funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.