POMONA >> A West Covina man received an eight-year prison sentenced Friday after admitting an arson spree targeting six San Gabriel Valley businesses late last year and early this year, officials said.
During what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing in Pomona Superior Court, David Lin, 43, pleaded “no contest” Friday to five counts of arson of property and one count of arson of an inhabited structure, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani. The outcome was the result of a negotiated plea arrangement.
Judge Salvatore Sirna sentenced Lin to eight years in state prison and ordered him to register as an arson offender for life, officials said.
Lin was arrested Feb. 3 after investigators linked him to a series of seven arson fires that ignited primarily inside the bathrooms of San Gabriel Valley businesses since December, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. John Hanson said at the time. No one was injured in the fires, at least one of which caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.
The fires were reported in December at the Guppy House restaurant in Hacienda Heights, as well as the Rolling Wok restaurant in Rowland Heights.
Two more similar fires broke out in January at L & L Hawaiian Barbecue in Walnut and at Office Depot in Rowland Heights, investigators said. The final three fires were reported the day of Lin’s arrest at a McDonalds, a Del Taco and Ten Ren’s Tea Time, all in Rowland Heights.
A motive for the bizarre crime spree was not clear, prosecutors said. Officials described Lin as a former West Covina resident who had been living in his car at the time of the arsons.
PHOTO of Davin Lin courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
SUNLAND >> A Rosemead woman died Thursday after her car crashed into a parked big rig alongside the 210 Freeway in Sunland, authorities said.
Valerie Lovio-Gonzales, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 4:15 p.m. crash on the eastbound 210 Freeway, just east of Sunland Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
She was at the wheel of a 2012 Nissan Altima when it struck the rear of a 2015 Freightliner tractor-trailer that was stopped on the right shoulder, California Highway Patrol officials said in a written statement. The cause of the crash remained under investigation, however officials said alcohol did not appear to be a factor.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Officer Fan of the CHP’s Altadena office at 626-296-8100.
LA HABRA >> Police and worried family members are seeking a 14-year-old La Habra girl who went missing Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Morgan “Mo-Mo” Starr Hambrick was last seen about 2 p.m. in the 900 block of Las Lomas Drive, La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
“She had been given permission by her grandfather to retrieve the mail and never returned. Her mother initiated an immediate search of the surrounding area, as well as some nearby communities, but could not locate her,” the statement said. “She alerted family members in Compton, as Morgan had previously run away and been located there, and contacted the La Habra Police Department to file a missing person report.”
Though she has run away from home in the past, Hambrick has never been gone for more than four hours, police said. She requires medication for a medical condition. It was unclear whether she had any money with her, and she does not own a cell phone.
Hambrick was described as black, 5 feet 1 inch tall and 79 pounds. She has gold and brown hair, worn in braids, and brown eyes. She wa last seen wearing a pink beanie, tan shorts and black high-top sneakers.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Sgt. Jose Quirarte at 562-383-4300.
PHOTO courtesy of the La Habra Police Department.
Candles in front of a photograph of Victor J. McClinton, is posted during a Candlelight Memorial in Remembrance of Victor J. McClinton, on the steps of Pasadena City Hall in Pasadena, Thursday, December 27, 2012. On Christmas Day, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employee and youth sport volunteer, Victor J. McClinton was shot and killed, when he was caught in the cross fire between two gang members. (Correspondent Photo by James Carbone/SVCITY)
LOS ANGELES >> A judge declared a mistrial Thursday after a jury became deadlocked in the case of two alleged gang members charged with capital murder for the fatal shooting of an innocent bystander investigators say became caught in gang crossfire in Pasadena on Christmas Day in 2012.
Reputed Bloods gang members Larry Darnell Bishop, 23, of Chino, and Jerron Donald Harris 27, of Pasadena, have been charged with murder and other crimes in connection with the Dec. 25, 2012, shooting that left 49-year-old Victor McClinton of Pasadena dead in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue in Pasadena.
After a trial that lasted more than a month, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury hung with respect to both defendants, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Greg Risling said.
The jury hung 9-3 in favor of convicting Bishop of all charges, and 7-5 in favor of acquitting Harris, Risling said.
Judge Curtis Rappe declared a mistrial. It was unclear Thursday whether prosecutors would pursue a second trial.
“Our office hasn’t made a decision on whether to retry the case,” Risling said.
McClinton was walking with a friend to deposit a Christmas gift in the friend’s car when Bishop and Harris both opened fire on a rival gang member, police and prosecutors allege. McClinton became caught in the crossfire.
But the man allegedly targeted in the shooting, who was wounded in the hand, testified at a preliminary hearing that Bishop and Harris were not his assailants.
The two defendants were each charges with murder with special circumstances of discharging a firearm from a moving vehicle and murder to benefit a criminal street gang, attempted murder, two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
McClinton was a father of two, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department law enforcement technician of 18 years and a youth coach who founded the nonprofit Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League in Pasadena.
Bishop had benefitted from the state’s prison realignment of 2011, also known as AB 109, officials said. Under the sentencing guidelines, he was able to serve less than one year of a two-year sentence for a previous assault with a deadly weapon as a “nonviolent, non-serious” offender in county jail, rather than state prison. Also as a result of AB 109, Bishop was released from custody without parole supervision about six months before McClinton’s slaying. He had two prior felony convictions as well.
BALDWIN PARK >> The cause of death of a 54-year-old Duarte man found unconscious in front of a Baldwin Park grocery store remains under investigation, though the man suffered from several maladies and foul play was not initially suspected.
Paramedics pronounced Raul Ygnacio Acuna dead shortly after he was found lying unconscious in front of Food 4 Less, 3000 N. Baldwin Park Blvd., Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
An autopsy had been performed, but a cause of death was yet to be determined pending the results of additional tests, Winter said Thursday.
Though listed in coroner’s documents as transient, niece Rachel Chavez said her uncle was a lifelong Duarte resident.
Family members were awaiting word from the coroner regarding exactly what happened to Acuna, she said. They knew only that he had gone for a walk after leaving the nearby Kaiser Permanente hospital.
“He was diabetic,” the niece said. He had a lot of ailments.”
Acuna is survived by son Nicholas Acuna; mother Linda Olsen-Acuna; siblings Angela Acuna Hernandez, Eddie Acuna Jr., Cynthia Marin, Alex Acuna, David Olsen; and many nieces and nephews, Chavez said.
A former steel worker who had not been working lately due to his illness, Chavez described her uncle as a “funny, funny guy.”
“He was one of those guys who wanted to make everyone laugh,” she said. “He was so much fun to be around. His energy was so amazing.”
“His family loved him very much,” Chavez said. “We will greatly miss him.”
LA CRESCENTA >> Coroner’s investigators have determined that a an elderly La Crescenta man found dead at his home last week was beaten to death, and the case was ruled a homicide.
Arthur Palmer, 73, was found dead about 1:30 p.m. on July 24 inside the attached garage of his home in the 3000 block of Frances Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
An autopsy determined he died from “multiple blunt force traumatic injuries,” Lt. Kelly Yagerliner said. The death was ruled a homicide.
Deputies discovered Palmer dead after a neighbor asked them to check on him after not seeing him in several days, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. She described Palmer as “a known recluse.”
No further details were released.
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.
WEST WHITTIER >> Deputies shot and wounded a man late Wednesday in a residential neighborhood just west of Whittier, officials said.
The shooting took place about 11:40 p.m. in the 12000 block of Rosehedge Drive, in the unincorporated county area of West Whittier, Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“The suspect’s condition is unknown,” Moody said. “No deputies were injured.”
No further details were available early Thursday.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are spearheading the investigation.
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> Police have released a composite sketch of a man who exposed himself to a woman and tried to kidnap her as she walked along Pioneer Boulevard earlier this month.
The victim, a 57-year-old Downey woman, escaped with only minor abrasions following the failed abduction, which took place about 7:45 a.m. July 5 in an alley along Pioneer Boulevard, just north of Houghton Avenue, according to Whittier police Lt. Kent Miller.
The woman was walking when the suspect called out to the woman from a black SUV, Miller said.
“He asked her to come over to his truck, when he suddenly grabbed her by the wrist and tried pulling her toward his driver’s side door,” police said in a written statement. “The male suspect made several lewd comments and exposed himself.”
The woman managed to pull free and run away. The attacker was last seen driving north on Pioneer Boulevard.
Police described the man as Latino, 30 to 35 years old,of medium build, clean-shaven, with short black hair combed backward.
ANyone with information is asked to contact Whittier police Detective Kremling at 562-409-1850.
SAN DIMAS >> Deputies arrested a man Tuesday after a bizarre incident in which he entered a bank branch on roller blades and asked to “borrow” money before being subdued by deputies and diners at a nearby restaurant, officials said.
Scott Baertich, 24, was booked on suspicion of robbery, though the ultimate decision as to what charge or charges he may face will be made by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Tonya Edward said.
The unusual incident began shortly before 11 a.m. at the U.S. Bank, 165 E. Bonita Ave., the lieutenant said.
Baertich rolled into the branch on skates and “asked for theme to let him borrow $20,” Edwards said.
A clerk handed the man a $20 out of fear and he left the bank, she said. Deputies responding to reports of a bank robbery suspect on roller blades spotted a pair of skates sitting in front of nearby Roady’s Restaurant, 160 W. Bonita Ave., Edwards said.
Deputies — aided by customers of the restaurant, which included an off-duty deputy and a retired deputy, wrestled Baertich into custody, she said. Deputies used a Taser to subdue the man. No significant injuries were reported.
It was uncertain with prosectors would file a robbery charge against Baertich, as he made no direct threat or demand while inside the bank, Edwards said. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a scheduled appearance Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.
IOWA >> A heavily-armed serial bank robber known as the “AK-47 Bandit,” who shot and wounded a Chino police officer during a bank robbery three years ago at the outset of a nationwide crime spree, struck again Tuesday in Iowa, according to the FBI.
The bandit showed up at the Heartland Community Credit Union in Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday morning, armed with his usual AK-47-style rifle fitted with a large-capacity drum magazine, FBI officials said in a written statement.
“ Based on witness descriptions, surveillance photos and other indicators, agents and detectives jointly investigating this case in multiple jurisdictions (and) states believe the Mason City suspect is the same individual linked to the violent series of bank robberies attributed to the ‘AK-47 Bandit,’ which brings the total number of linked robberies to seven,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
The spree of bank heists began on Feb. 29, 2012, when the bandit robbed the California Bank and Trust, 5455 Riverside Drive, and shot a Chino police officer while making his getaway.
Robberies and attempted robberies throughout California and the nation have since been linked to the bank robbery.
He’s believed to be responsible for crimes in Chino, Vacaville, Sacramento, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska, and now Iowa, according to the FBI.
$100,000 in reward money has been offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of the AK-47 bandit. The FBI has offered $75,000 in reward money, Eimileer said, while other parties have added an additional $25,000.
Officials have described the robber as a white in his 20s to 40s, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, of medium build, woith possibly blue eyes. He generally wears a black ski mask and gloves and carries the assault rifle which gave him his moniker.
Anyone with information can reach the FBI in Los Angeles at 310-477-6565.