Man fatally shot inside his own home in Valinda

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VALINDA >> A man died at the scene of a shooting inside his own home in Valinda home early Sunday, authorities said.
The shooting took place just before 4 a.m. at a house in the 16000 block of Garrett Court, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda, Deputy Jeffrey Gordon of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
0223_NWS_SGT-L-VASHOOTING3A man gathered with family members at the corner of the small cul-de-sac said the home was that of his brother. The man said he did not know what had happened and he was waiting for information from the sheriff’s department. He did not wish to comment further.
The street was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape as investigators continued gathering clues inside the well-kept, beige, two-story home.
Detectives, coroner officials and forensic investigators continued working at the home through Sunday afternoon.
Nearby neighbors said they did not hear any gunshots, or anything else unusual in the early-morning hours.
0223_NWS_SGT-L-VASHOOTING2Tony Hoke was sleeping at the home a friend next to the shooting scene.
“What woke us up was the sirens,” he said.
Deputies knocked on his door a short time later to ask if he’d heard or seen anything regarding the shooting, he said.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting or any possible suspects was released.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Man struck, dragged by party bus in Norwalk hit-and-run

NORWALK >> Detectives are seeking a party bus that struck a Norwalk man and dragged him more than 200 feet before fleeing the scene early Saturday, officials said.
Efren Virgen, 26, was crossing Fairford Avenue, just south of Ratcliffe Street, about 2:30 a.m. when he was struck by southbound bus, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said.
“The victim was dragged by the vehicle for over 200 feet and suffered major injuries,” Detective Carl Anna said in a written statement.
Rescuers took Virgen to a hospital, where he was in critical-but-stable condition in an intensive care unit Saturday afternoon, Lt. Eric Smitson said.
A witnesses described the bus as a black party bus of the type rented out by groups for special occasions, the detective said. “As the suspect’s vehicle drove past the witnesses, he saw that the interior neon lights were flashing, and heard music coming from inside.”
The bus was last seen heading west on Foster Road, Anna said.
“We are looking for witnesses to come forward that were either on the above ‘party bus,’ or have knowledge of any similar vehicle that may have been in the Norwalk area at or near the indicated time,” Anna said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Norwalk Station at 562-863-8711. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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Car smashes into CHP cruiser in hit-and-run crash on the 10 Freeway in El Monte


EL MONTE >> The driver of a Mitsubishi Eclipse fled the scene of a crash that sent another car careening into a stopped California Highway Patrol car on the 10 Freeway in El Monte early Saturday, authorities said.
Two CHP officers were outside of their patrol car, which was parked along the right shoulder of the eastbound 10 Freeway just east of Peck Road, when the series of crashes occurred about 2 a.m., California Highway Patrol officials said.
“The CHP officers observed a rear-end traffic collision between two vehicles, just west of their location,” CHP officials said in a written statement.
“One of the vehicles traveled to the right, struck the sound wall, and traveled toward the patrol vehicle where it struck the patrol vehicle at the right rear and overturned onto its roof,” the statement said.
The second car involved in the crash, described as a dark-colored Mitsubishi Eclipse, sped away from the scene, CHP Officer Tony Polizzi said.
Two people inside the overturned vehicle, a Scion xB, suffered minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital for treatment, officials said. The CHP officers were not hurt.
Officers from the East Los Angeles office of the CHP are handling the investigation.

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UPDATED: Man beats and stabs 77-year-old grandmother in Altadena, officials say

ALTADENA >> A 22-year-old man beat and repeatedly stabbed his 77-year-old grandmother at an Altadena home late Friday, leaving her severely wounded at a hospital, officials said.
Deputies arrested Alexander Touloudjian at the scene without a struggle and booked him on suspicion of attempted murder, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and county booking records.
Juliet Touloudjian was rushed into emergency surgery at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Lt. Cruz Solis said.
The attack took place about 7:45 p.m. at a home in the 1700 block of N. Allen Avenue, just south of New York Drive, the lieutenant said. The woman was beaten in the head with an ax handle and stabbed multiple times in the torso.
Deputies recovered the ax handle, he said, but the knife used in the attack had not been found.
Though seriously injured, the woman was able to escape the attack and seek help.
“She managed to go to a neighbor’s house,” Solis said. “She was covered in blood. The neighbor called 9-1-1.”
Responding deputies took the grandson into custody at the scene, Solis said. It appeared he made no attempt to flee.
The grandmother lives at the home where the stabbing took place, he said. It was not clear if her grandson lived with her.
Investigators had not determined a motive in the attack.
A man at the Touloudjian home Saturday declined to comment.
Neighbors said they had never known Alexander Touloudjian to be violent and they were stunned to learn of the alleged attack on his grandmother.
The young man, who had lived at the home with his grandmother and sister for more than a decade, took care of his grandmother, said a neighbor who did asked that her name be withheld. She described him as a “very, very nice man,” who studied nutrition at Pasadena City College and worked two jobs washing dishes at local restaurants.
“Everybody liked him. He helped everybody,” the neighbor said. “I’m trying to understand. I can’t.”
She added that the grandson and grandmother seemingly had a close relationship, though Juliet Touloudjian tended to be “very strict” with her grandchildren.
But Alexander Touloudjian did display some odd behavior, the neighbor said. She would sometimes hear him shout out to Jesus in the middle of the night, and had told her more than once that he believed someone was climbing on the roof.
Over the past three weeks or so, however, the neighbor said she noticed a change in Alexander Touloudjian, “Like he was not in this world.”
He would sit and stare for long periods of time, and acted as if he didn’t recognize her, the neighbor said. But when asked if he needed help, he always responded that he was okay.
The neighbor said she hoped Alex Touloudjian would receive treatment, rather than a prison sentence.
“I couldn’t help him. That’s why I’m very said,” she said.
Though she only knew Alexander Touloudjian from brief greetings in passing, “He’s always very nice,” neighbor Marina Kilzi said.
“I still can’t believe it,” neighbor Marina Kilzi said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Alexander Touloudjian was arrested three days prior to the alleged attack on his grandmother on suspicion of being drunk in public, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said.
He spent a little more than five hours sobering up in jail before he was ultimately released without charges, according to police and booking records.
Alexander Touloudjian’s has no prior violent convictions, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. He was convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level above .08 percent in July of 2012, and of trespassing in March of 2012.
Alexander Touloudjian was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in Pasadena Superior Court, records show.

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Woman accused of stealing elderly woman’s bingo prize in Monterey Park


MONTEREY PARK – Police arrested a woman Thursday for allegedly stealing about $250 from an 86-year-old fellow bingo player at the senior center two weeks ago.
BINGO stillMaricela Bracamontes, 53, of Bell Gardens was booked on suspicion of felony elder abuse. Police didn’t recover the money.
“She was arrested for elder abuse because she targeted a senior,” said Lt. Tina Montoya of the Monterey Park Police Department.
Police said the crime was caught on camera…

FULL STORY by Ruby Gonzales in the Pasadena Star-News

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Off-duty Whittier police officer shoots at intruder in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES >> An off-duty Whittier police officer fired a shotgun at an intruder at his Los Angeles home late Thursday, though it was unclear if the suspect, who fled, was struck, authorities said.
The officer-involved shooting took place in the 3200 block of Military Avenue about 10 p.m. Thursday, said Sgt. John Marquez of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Station.
“The officer was in his home, sitting in the living room when he saw a male black about 20 years old wearing dark clothing standing in his kitchen,” Marquez said.
The officer ran to another room and armed himself with a shotgun, LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.
“Once he was armed, he exited the side door of his residence,” the sergeant said.
The officer encountered the intruder behind the house, near the back door, he said.
“It was at that point that am officer-involved shooting occurred,” Montgomery said. It was unclear exactly what promted the officer to open fire.
The suspect ran off, officials said.
Police searched the area but were unable to find the suspect, Montgomery said.
It was unclear if the suspect was struck by the gunfire.
“No one has turned up at a hospital or medical facility with a gunshot wound as far we know,” Marquez said. “So we have no idea where the suspect is at this point.”
Immediately following the shooting, the officer checked to make sure his two roommates were okay, then dialed 9-1-1, Montgomery said.
Whittier police officials deferred comment to the LAPD.

- Staff and wire report

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Three convicted of Pasadena shotgun slaying stemming from robbery attempt

PASADENA >> A jury convicted three men of murder and other crimes Friday for the 2013 shotgun slaying of a Pasadena man in an attempted robbery during a marijuana transaction, authorities said.
Gang members Peter Parra, 37, of Pasadena, Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 27, of north Hollywood and Raymond Frank Conchas, 26, of Covina each face life in prison without the possibility of parole when they return to Los Angeles Superior Court for sentencing April 17, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said in a written statement.
A jury found each of the three men guilty of first-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy to a commit a crime for the Jan. 15, 2013, slaying of 21-year-old Zane Goldstein at Maple Avenue and Chester Street in Pasadena, officials said.
“The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during a robbery and allegations that a shotgun was used and the crime was for the benefit of a gang,” Santiago said.
The victim was riding in a car with his then-24-year-old brother when the shooting occurred.
Prior to the fatal attack, the brothers had arranged to meet the suspects in an alleyway to by a small amount of marijuana, which police described as less than an ounce.
“When the victim arrived, the defendants attempted to rob him and shot him in the head with a shotgun as he tried to escape near Maple Street and Chester Avenue,” Santiago said. Goldstein’s brother escaped serious injury.
A fourth suspect in the slaying, 21-year-old Michael Piepoli, received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in November after being convicted of the killing, officials said. And a fifth defendant, 20-year-old Ward Lacey, is scheduled to go on trial for the killing in Feb. 23.

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ROP teacher at Gladstone High School in Covina accused of sex with student

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Police arrested a female Regional Occupational Program teacher Thursday on suspicion of having sex with a male Gladstone High School student, officials announced Friday afternoon.
East San Gabriel Valley ROP teacher Eddee Kovacs Kolos, 50, of Sierra Madre turned herself in to police about 4 p.m. Thursday, according to Sierra Madre police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
(Detectives) interviewed her. At the conclusion of their interview, they determined there was enough evidence for an arrest,” Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said.
Police booked her on suspicion of having sexual intercourse with a minor, .
The allegation came to light about noon, when a 16-year-old Gladstone High School student reported the encounter to a school officials, the chief said.
Kolos posted $20,000 bail and was released from custody Thursday night, records show. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
Representatives of the East San Gabriel Valley ROP also could not be reached for comment after hours Friday.
Giannone said the alleged misconduct occurred within recent months, but declined to provide a specific time-frame.
It was unclear what subject Kolos taught through the ROP program.
Covina police initially investigated the allegation, but turned the case over to their counterparts in Sierra Madre after determining the alleged crime took place in that city.
Giannone declined to say exactly where the alleged molestation occurred.
“The cooperation of the Azusa Unified School District, the Covina Police Department, and the quick work of Sierra Madre Police Department detectives were instrumental in bringing this case to a quick conclusion and the arrest of the suspect within four hours of school authorities being notified,” Giannone said.
Upon learning of the alleged misconduct, the district immediately notified authorities, and also contacted ROP officials to have the teacher removed from campus and placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, Azusa Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Corey James said in a written statement.
“Azusa Unified takes very seriously any allegation about inappropriate relations between a student and teacher, regardless of whether they are an AUSD employee.  While this teacher was not a direct employee, AUSD holds this individual and all other guests on our campus to the same high standards to which we hold our own teachers,” James said.
“Our students’ safety is our first priority,” James said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement to facilitate a speedy resolution to this issue.  On behalf of our student, AUSD will call for immediate prosecution to the full extent of the law.  In the meantime, we are providing counseling for our student.”
Kolos was scheduled to appear for arraignment in Pasadena Superior Court on April 3, officials said.

PHOTO of Eddee Kolos, 50, of Sierra Madre, courtesy of the Sierra Madre Police Department

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Covina police jail La Puente man in alleged $100,000 employment scam

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COVINA >> Police jailed a La Puente man Thursday on suspicion of bilking about 30 victims out of an estimated $100,000 by posing as a utlity representative offering to help them get a job with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, officials said.
James Raymond Zulaica, 37, is accused of grand theft and identity theft for his alleged scam, which has been ongoing since July, Covina police Sgt. Gregg Peterson said in a written statement.
Calling himself, “Jimmy Rojas,” Zulaica has been falsely claiming to work for the LADWP, Peterson said. He told his victims that for a fee, he could help them get jobs at the utility.
“The fees he charged each individual victim ranged from $1,300 to $15,000. The total losses of all victims are estimated to be approximately $100,000.”
Police arrested Zulaica early Thursday while carrying out a search warrant at his La Puente home.
According to county booking records, Zulaica was being held in lieu of $45,000 bail pending a scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
Police are seeking additional victims of the alleged con, and asked anyone with information to contact Covina police detectives at 626-384-5615.

PHOTO of suspect James Zulaica courtesy of the Covina Police Department.

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Deputy shoots at suspect near Azusa


AZUSA >> A deputy shot at a suspect at Lario San Gabriel River Trail Park in Azusa Thursday, though it was unknown if the suspect was struck by the gunfire, authorities said.
The incident unfolded about 2:10 p.m. at the park, 15701 Foothill Blvd., just east of Azusa, Deputy Tina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Sheriff’s Park Bureau Mounted Patrol deputies approached a man regarding county code violations in the park when he became “combative,” she said.
“The suspect injured one of the deputies with his vehicle in an attempt to flee the scene,” Schrader said. “Fearing for his partner’s life, another deputy shot one round from his weapon at the suspect in an attempt to stop the assault.
“It is unknown if the suspect was struck by gunfire,” the deputy said. “The suspect’s vehicle was struck on the passenger side mirror and possibly the passenger side window.”
Officials said the suspect was last seen driving east on Foothill Boulevard.
The injured deputy was taken to a hospital for treatment of “non-life-threatening” injuries, Schrader said. Further details regarding the nature of the injuries were not available.
The suspect fled the scene going eastbound on Foothill Boulevard and out of view.
Deputies described the suspect as a white or Latino man, between 25 and 30 years old, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, with a muscular build. He wore a gray shirt. His car was a white, mid-2000s, two-door Acura with tinted windows.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Parks Bureau Detectives at 661-294-3544. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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