ALHAMBRA >> A judge sentenced a Chino man to 374 years to life in prison Thursday for a spree of follow-home robberies targeting lone Asian women throughout the San Gabriel Valley in 2011, officials said.
An Alhambra Superior Court convicted Jose Lewis Avila, 33, of nine counts of robbery, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime and one count of child abuse. The 12 charges stem from a eight incidents in March and April of 2011, investigators said.
Three robberies, one of which involved two victims, occurred in Alhambra, officials said. Three of he robberies occurred in San Gabriel, one occurred in Arcadia and one took place in Monterey Park.
“The defendant targeted women driving alone,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “Once the victims arrived at their homes, Avila accosted them and demanded their money and property. During each robbery, the defendant used a BB gun and covered his face with a bandana or mask.
But detectives managed to identify Avila the culprit in the crimes through surveillance video and credit card charges, officials said.
Additionally, Avila’s “unique” and “pretty” eyes helped victims point him out as their attacker, said Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian, who prosecuted the case with Deputy District Attorney Gabriel Kim.
Avila was convicted of a similar string of crimes in 2005, Ayvazian said.
The assault with a deadly weapon charge was the result of Avila shooting one of his victims in the face with a BB gun during a robbery in Arcadia, officials said. He also threatened a witness not to contact the police, leading to the charge of dissuading a witness. And one of the robbery victims was holding a child in her arms during the crime, resulting in the charge of child abuse.
According to district attorney’s officials, the jury also found true special allegations that Avila used a deadly and dangerous weapon, the BB gun, in his crimes, and that he inflicted great bodily injury.
PHOTO of Jose Avila, 33, of Chino, courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department.
PASADENA >> Officials evacuated several homes after construction equipment ruptured a natural gas main Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
A backhoe working a the construction site of several townhomes at Altadena Drive and Mohawk Street struck the gas line shortly before 2:50 p.m., according to Pasadena Fire Department officials.
Officials evacuated about half-a-dozen nearby residents as a precaution and summoned utility workers to the scene, Pasadena fire spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
Officials shut down Altadena Drive between Colorado Boulevard for about three hours until repairs were made, Derderian.
PASADENA >> A woman arrived home Saturday to find a burglar in her home, police said.
Donald Holden, 20, was arrested in connection with the crime, which was reported about 3:30 p.m. at a home in the 100 block of South Roosevelt Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
The victim, a 25-year-old woman, found an intruder inside her bedroom, the lieutenant said. The man ran from the home once spotted by the residence.
An officer spotted a man matching the description in the area about 40 minutes later, Luna said. Police arrested the man after the victim identified him as the burglar, and items taken from the home were found in his possession. Holden was booked on suspicion of burglary.
According to county booking records, Holden was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
COVINA >> A Covina woman stabbed her boyfriend three times early Sunday in a seemingly unprovoked attack, officials said.
Police arrested Toni Entriken, 56, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon following the 5:20 a.m. stabbing at a condominium in the 700 block of East San Bernardino Road, Covina police Sgt. Rob Bobkiewicz said.
The victim, a man in his 50s, had just woken up when he was confronted by Entriken, who was armed with a 6-inch-long butcher knife, the sergeant said.
A struggle ensued, and Entriken stabbed her boyfriend twice in the back and once in the arm, he said. The man fled from the condominium and called police.
Officer arrived to find the wounded man outside of the condominium complex, Bobkiewicz said. Paramedics took him to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for treatment of injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Police arrested Entriken at her condominium without a struggle, Bobkiewicz added. She was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Tony Zavala at 626-384-5622, or the Covina Police Department’s on-duty watch commander at 626-384-5665.
WHITTIER >> A brush fire broke out on a hillside neighboring Rose Hills Memorial Park and Cemetery Saturday, officials said.
The fire was first reported about 5 p.m. just to the east of the memorial park at 3888 Workman Mill Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters said.
Firefighters on the ground were joined by three helicopters as they poured water onto the flames, Peters said.
The fire grew to 1-and-a-half acres before fighters declared it extinguished just over an hour after it began, officials said.
No injuries were reported.
PASADENA >> Three men were behind bars Saturday for allegedly scrawling graffiti in and around Brenner Park in Pasadena, officials said.
Police arrested Allen Rafael Padilla, 19, of Pasadena, Daniel James Blancarte, 18, of Pasadena, and Anthony Medina-Olvera, 19, of Alhambra, on suspicion of felony vandalism after a city worker caught them tagging about 6:30 a.m. Friday at Brenner Park, at Barthe Drive and Mountain Street, according to Pasadena police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
“A city worker observed the suspects walking out of the women’s restroom at Brenner Park,” Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said. The worker soon discovered that the bathroom had been vandalized with fresh graffiti, along with eight other spots in and around the park.
Officer found and detained the three suspects in the area and arrested them after the witnesses identified them as the taggers, Luna said.
“The suspects were in possession of paint cans and paint markers matching the vandalism,” the lieutenant added.
The vandalism spree caused nearly $1,000 worth of damage, he said.
According to county booking records, Padilla and Blancarte were being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending their initial court appearances. Medina-Olvera, who had a pre-existing case against him, was being held in lieu of $35,900 bail.
PASADENA >> Three teenagers robbed a water vending business of its tip jar Friday, police said. The felony netted them $7.
The crime took place about 10:10 a.m. at a business in the 1200 block of North Lake Avenue, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
A woman working at the store suffered minor injuries to her hand while scuffling with one of the young robbers, he said.
“They intimidated the clerk and attempted to steal the tip jar,” Luna said.
The woman struggled with one of the teens before he ultimately managed to flee with the tip jar, along with his two accomplices, the lieutenant said.
The woman suffered a small cut and abrasions to her hand during the scuffle, he added.
The tip jar contained about $7, Luna said.
Police searched the area but did not find the robbers, described as three black teens of 15 or 16 years old, of thin build, standing 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall.
NORWALK >> Gunfire at a Norwalk park left one man dead early Saturday, authorities said.
The fatal shooting took place about 6:20 a.m. at Arthur Gerdes Park, 14700 Gridley Road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Navares said.
Deputies responded to several calls reporting gunshots and a “victim down” when they encountered a man in his 20s who had been shot, the sergeant said.
Paramedics rushed the wounded man to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, Navares said.
No suspects were in custody, and no suspect description was immediately available.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are handling the investigation. Anyone with information can reacht he bureau at 323-890-5500.
LA HABRA >> A ruptured water main Friday buckled Euclid Avenue in La Habra and flooded a portion of the La Habra Police Department, officials said.
The water main break occurred about 12:40 p.m. on Euclid Avenue, just north of La Habra Boulevard, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said. Water gushed for more than two hours before crews shut off the flow.
In addition to buckling the street above, water poured into the basement of the nearby La Habra police station, the sergeant said.
Portions of the station’s basement — which houses telephone equipment and come computers, as well as a property room, locker room and gym — ended up flooded with 2 to 3 inches of water, Angle said.
No important equipment was damaged, and the station continued operating as normal, he said.
Workers temporarily patched the roadway to allow traffic to resume, Angle said. Crews will return Monday morning to make permanent repairs, and Euclid Avenue north of La Habra Boulevard is expected to be closed through most of the day.
ROSEMEAD >> One person died, another suffered major injuries and a man is accused of drunken driving and hit-and-run following a two-vehicle crash on a 10 Freeway offramp in Rosemead late Friday, officials said.
The crash took place about 11:15 p.m. on the Rosemead Boulevard offramp of the eastbound 10 Freeway, according to California Highway Patrol logs.
Two vehicle ended up down an embankment in the crash, CHP logs show.
The driver and passenger of one of the involved vehicles were seriously injured in the crash, CHP Officer Jennifer Cassidy said. The passenger died at a hospital, while the driver was hospitalized with serious injuries.
The driver of the second vehicle abandoned it at the scene and fled on foot, Cassidy said. He was arrested a short time later at his home on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, drunken driving and hit-and-run, Cassidy said.
The suspect’s identity was not available Saturday, and no further details were released.
The Rosemead Boulevard offramp from the eastbound 10 Freeway remained shut down for nearly three hours following the crash, which is under investigation by officers from the CHP’s East Los Angeles office.