Ex-fugitive from San Bernardino in viral Rowland Heights crash video back in custody

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A former fugitive from San Bernardino charged with a laundry list of criminal charges in connection with a bizarre Rowland Heights car crash depicted in a viral YouTube video is behind bars, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Jasmine Lacey, 23, is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, hit-and-run with a runaway car, auto theft, taking a car without the owner’s consent and driving without a valid license in connection with the Sept. 1 crash along Harbor Boulevard, between Vantage Point Drive and Pathfinder Road, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
VIDEO: Bizarre Rowland Heights crash caught on camera
California Highway Patrol officers soon found and arrested an allegedly highly intoxicated Lacey on foot in the area, CHP officials said.
She was released from custody without charges four days later, however, pending the result of blood analysis.
But charged were filed against Lacey in February, but she failed to show up for a scheduled Feb. 10 arraignment hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court’s West Covina branch, Ardalani said. A bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
Lacey was re-arrested April 18, according to county booking records. The circumstances of her re-capture were unclear Wednesday.
She pleaded has since not guilty to all charges.
But the legal process is again on hold as officials look into Lacey’s psychiatric health, Ardalani said.
“On May 5, a doubt was declared as to the defendant’s mental competency,” she said.
According to court records, Lacey is next scheduled to appear in the Mental Health Courthouse in Los Angeles May 19 for a mental competency hearing. She is then scheduled for a hearing in the West Covina courthouse the following day.
The unusual incident, which resulted in no significant injuries, was captured on video by the dashcam of another car. The footage was posted to YouTube by user “UlikeUC Here”, where it has since garnered more than 5 million views.
She was at the wheel of a stolen car when the suddenly slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a halt, the video shows.
Lacey then inexplicably exits the car and begins walking down the center median as the driverless car rolled downhill and into opposing traffic lanes. An SUV was struck by the car before it ultimately struck a tree and stopped.
Lacey was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail, records show.

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San Bernardino woman in bizarre, viral Rowland Heights car crash video sought after skipping court

ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A San Bernardino woman accused of abandoning a stolen car while high on drugs, allowing it to roll downhill and into opposing traffic in a bizarre Rowland Heights crash captured on a viral dashcam video, is now a fugitive after skipping out on her court date last month, officials said.
Jasmin Lacey, 23, faces charges of driving under the influence of drugs, hit-and-run with a runaway car, auto theft, taking a car without the owner’s consent and driving without a valid license in connection with the Sept. 1 crash along Harbor Boulevard, between Vantage Point Drive and Pathfinder Road, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
But Lacey failed to appear for a Feb. 10 arraignment hearing scheduled in the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s West Covina branch, she said.
“A bench warrant was issued for her arrest,” Ardalani said.
•Video: Bizarre Rowland Heights crash
The strange series of events, which resulted in no injuries, was captured on another driver’s dashcam. The video, posted on YouTube, has since garnered more than 4.9 million views.
In the video, the driver of a 2010 Hyundai Sonata — later identified as Lacey — suddenly slams on the car’s brakes, bring the car to a halt, and exits the vehicle. The driver then walks down the center median with a casual stride as the abandoned Hyundai rolls downhill and across opposing traffic lanes.
California Highway Patrol officials said the car struck an SUV. A second SUV also became tangled in the wreck before the Hyundai ultimately struck two trees and came to a stop.
After being found in the area, Lacey appeared extremely intoxicated and provided no explanation for her alleged actions, CHP Officer Armando Perdomo said at the time.
She was initially arrested, but released from custody pending further investigation as officials awaited the results of blood tests, according to Perdomo and Los Angeles County booking records.
Prosecutors filed charges Feb. 5, records show.
The two auto theft-related crimes Lacey is charged with are felonies, Ardalani said. The three additional charges of hit-and-run, DUI and driving without a license are misdemeanors.

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Alleged heroin dealer from San Bernardino jailed in Alhambra

ALHAMBRA >> Police arrested an alleged heroin dealer from San Bernardino early Wednesday after he was found driving through Alhambra with 25 small bindles of heroin in his pocket, officials said
Alejandro Fuentes, 31, was booked on suspicion of possession of heroin with intent to distribute following his 2:55 a.m. arrest in the area of Valley Boulevard and Marguerita Avenue, Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson said.
An officer noticed Fuentes at the wheel of car parked behind a closed medical office, the sergeant said.
As the officer approached the vehicle, it drove off, Johnson said. The officer pulled it over nearby. There were three passengers in the car with Fuentes.
Police soon determined Fuentes was unlicensed and discovered 25 small packages of heroin wrapped in clear plastic in his pocket.
The car was searched and Fuentes’ three passengers were not arrested.
Fuentes was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, Johnson said.

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Feds raid home of former neighbor of San Bernardino shooter in Riverside


Heavily armed federal law enforcement officials raided a Riverside home neighboring the former home of one of the two San Bernardino terrorist attackers as part of the ongoing, feverish investigation into the dead couple responsible for Wednesday’s mass killing at the Inland Regional Center, authorities said.
A SWAT team descended on the Tomlinson Avenue home shortly after 1 a.m., FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
“A a federal search warrant was served,” she said.
“Tactical entry was made utilizing SWAT as a precaution, based on information developed in our investigation,” Eimiller said.
No arrests were made. Eimiller declined to comment on whether any evidence was seized from the home.
RAID2Public records indicate 28-yearold Syed Farook lived at the Tomlinson Avenue address between 2008 and 2014. He subsequently moved to Corona, and most recently, to Redlands, where authorities ultimately discovered a stockpile of ammunition and explosives.
Syed’s accomplice and wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, immigrated to the U.S. after marrying Farook in Aug. of 2014, officials said. A native of Pakistan, she was living in Saudi Arabia when she met Farook online.
“The search warrant is under seal,” she said. “I am prohibited from commenting about the details of the search.
But sources with knowledge of the investigation said the raid was part of investigation into a person believed to have purchased some of the firearms used in the mass shooting, which left 14 people dead and 21 others injured.
The warrant did not target a specific person, but rather the residence, Eimiller explained.
People were home at the time of the raid, however Eimiller declined to comment further on who was contacted. No injuries or incidents of violence were reported.
RAID3Maria Gutierrez says she was told to leave her house further down the street at 1:30 a.m. Saturday for safety reasons as authorities swept in with guns drawn.
She says authorities used a megaphone to tell whoever was in the house to come out.
Another neighbor, Lorena Aguirre, says law enforcement broke windows and used a torch to get in the garage.
The garage door appeared ripped open and the garage itself was piled high boxes above window-level. Curtains were drawn closed on the main house, and a sign jotted on a piece of drywall stated, “Please keep off the property. Thank you.”
Neighbor Adolfo Agoncillo said he didn’t even notice the raid was taking place until he received a phone call from his daughter, who told him that the street had been blocked off.
Agoncillo said that during the year-and-a-half he’s lived in the neighborhood, he’d only seen the family who lives at the raided home once, while taking a bike ride.
Memorials and tributes to the victims continued unfolding throughout the Southland.
At the Sante Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, home of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, loved ones celebrated the life of Larry Daniel Kaufman, 42, of Rialto. They remembered good times with the self-described nerd and Rennaisance Pleasure Faire aficionado. Representatives of a San Bernardino mosque also stopped by to pay their respects.
Another memorial was planned Saturday night in North Hollywood for victim Bennetta BetBadal, 46, of Rialto.
And an interfaith service to foster healing was held Saturday afternoon at the Islamic Center of Inland Empire in Rancho Cucamonga.
Despite still reeling from the shocking attack that rocked the region and the nation, some signs of normalcy can be seen returning to San Bernardino.
Hundreds of locals gathered to support the San Bernardino’s YMCA holiday parade Saturday morning. Some said they turned out despite fear, others said they were not afraid.
President Barack Obama dedicated his weekly address on Saturday to the “act of terror” in San Bernardino, declaring Americans are resilient and will not be terrorized.
Obama began by saluting first responders and saying he was praying for the wounded.
“Most of all,” he said, “we stand with 14 families whose hearts are broken.”
Investigators are continuing to look into what led up to the attack by Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, on Wednesday, Obama said.
“It is entirely possible that these two attackers were radicalized to commit this act of terror,” Obama said. “And if so, it would underscore a threat we’ve been focused on for years: the danger of people succumbing to violent, extremist ideologies.”
The president also reiterated his support for gun control, saying it was too easy for dangerous people to obtain firearms — even those who are on the “no-fly list.”
“That’s insane,” Obama said. “If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun. And so I’m calling on Congress right now to close this loophole.”

PHOTOS by Ryan Hagen

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San Bernardino shooting victim had fled Islamic terror in Iran


Benneta Betbadal fled Iran as a teenager nearly 20 years ago to escape Islamic terror before becoming one of 14 people to lose their lives in a coordinated attack at a work-related gathering Wednesday, according to loved ones and officials.
Betbadal, also described by officials as Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, died in the hail of bullets unleased by fellow San Bernardino County employee Syed Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27. Both suspects were later killed in a shootout with police.
“Benneta Betbadal was born in Iran in 1969. She fled to America at the age of 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution,” according to a fundraising website set up by Ken Paulson. “Benneta initially settled in New York City, eventually moving to California and marrying her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, a police officer. They moved to Rialto, California and had three children, now ages 10, 12, and 15.”
It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago,” the statement said.
A graduate of Cal Poly Pomona, where she studied chemistry, Betbadal enjoyed her career with the county health department.
“Benneta left the house Wednesday morning, excited about a presentation she was scheduled to give to her supervisors and coworkers at their annual meeting,” Paulson continued.
“She loved her job, her community, and her country. Her greatest love, however, was for her husband, her children, and her large extended family,” according to the statement.
Donations to benefit Betbadal’s family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/y2d8bn7w.

PHOTO via https://www.gofundme.com/y2d8bn7w

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Schizophrenic woman who went missing in Arcadia found safe in San Bernardino County

ARCADIA >> A Pasadena woman suffering from schizophrenia who went missing in Arcadia Thursday turned up safe Sunday morning, officials said.
Linda Lee, 61, was found in San Bernardino County, Arcadia police Sgt. John Bonomo said. Further details regarding her discovery or how she ended up in San Bernardino County, were not available.
Loved ones reported the Pasadena resident missing Friday after she vanished during a visit to family in Arcadia on Thursday, police said.

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Police use of force expert, former SWAT sniper reacts to unusual deputy-involved shooting from helicopter in San Bernardino

Following Friday’s highly unusual deputy-involved shooting of a suspect from a sheriff’s department helicopter in San Bernardino, police use of force expert and retired Placer County sheriff’s sergeant Rocky Warren of Warren Consulting said shooting a suspect from a police helicopter is both extremely rare and “very difficult.”
The last time Warren said he knew of such an incident occuring was in Alaska in 1984, when spree killer Michael Silka was fatally shot by a state trooper from a helicopter. Another trooper died in the shootout with Silka, who was armed with a high-powered rifle.
In addition to being highly unusual, “It’s a very techical shot,” Warren said. “They have to be tremendously skilled in order to do that.”
The invovled deputy had to contend with motion, wind as well as the added difficulty of firing from an elevated position, or “high angle of incidence,” which causes bullets to impact their targets differently than when fired horizontally.
Warren, a former SWAT team sniper, is familiar with difficult shots. In 1982, he became one of four law enforcement officer in the nation who has shot a gun from a suspect’s hand on command.
It appeared likely that the shooting saved lives of innocent people on the freeway, Warren said.
As a wanted home-invasion robbery suspect, the the driver was “a violent, fleeing felon,” Warren said. And when fleeing in an SUV weighing more than 3,000 pounds, “The car becomes a weapon.”
It was unclear late Friday whether the suspect killed in the San Bernardino shooting had a gun. Officials did not comment on initial reports that the suspect, who was wanted for a Fontana home-invasion robbery that occurred Thursday, may have fired on the sheriff’s department helicopter during the chase.
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“Slurp” remembered at PCC

This from the PCC Courier:

Members of the PCC community are mourning the death of Darryl Stephens, a former football player at PCC who had a troubled stay on campus and died on Monday in a suspected suicide.

Stephens was found in an apartment in Upland after Upland Police responded to reports of gunshots on Sunday.

“According to Upland [Police], in their investigation, suicide was indicated,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony DeCecio.

“I cried like a baby [when I found out],” said PCC Professor Jessie Moore, who taught Stephens. “Darryl used to call me mom. He was that kind of guy. He had issues, like we all do, but was working on his issues.”

According to San Bernardino County Coroner Spokeswoman Sandy Fatland, Stephens was pronounced dead at 12:13 a.m. Monday at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center after an original injury at 10:23 a.m. Sunday described as a “gun shot to the upper body.”

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