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Aug 2021
Newswatch August 3, 2021

Law Enforcement News

Eighth LAPD Officer Dies Due To COVID-19 Complications
An eighth Los Angeles Police Department officer has died from complications due to COVID-19, the department announced Monday. Officer Becky Strong, who joined the department in 1994, died early Monday after several days in the hospital. She worked as a police officer for 27 years. She was last assigned to the South Traffic Division. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we mourn the loss of LAPD Police Officer Becky Strong, who passed away this morning from complications of COVID-19,” LAPD said in a tweet. “Our deepest condolences go out to Officer Strong’s entire family, colleagues, and friends in this most difficult time.” Two other non-police-officer LAPD employees have also died from COVID-19. Back in April, 31-year-veteran Sgt. Anthony White, who had worked for the LAPD since 1990 also died of COVID-19 complications. The department had previously lost six sworn and two civilian employees to the virus since the start of the pandemic, a number that had gone unchanged since February.

LAPD Officers Respond To Shooting Investigation In MacArthur Park
It happened at S. Hoover Street and Beverly Boulevard around 10 p.m. Monday. At one point about 75 people were at the scene.
CBS News Video

Child Struck And Killed By Vehicle In South LA
A child is dead after being struck by a vehicle in South Los Angeles, authorities said Monday. The crash was reported shortly before 10 a.m. near the intersection of Compton Avenue and E 87th Street, the California Highway Patrol reported. The CHP said the child was hit by a vehicle and died at the hospital. Additional details surrounding the crash were not immediately released. The child's name, age and gender were not available.
FOX 11

Victims Identified In Deadly South LA Suspected Drunk Driving Crash
The coroner’s office Monday identified the 43-year- old man and 26-year-old woman killed when a suspected drunk driver allegedly triggered a two-vehicle crash on the southbound Harbor (110) Freeway in South Los Angeles. The crash occurred at 4:40 a.m. Sunday at Slauson Avenue, the California Highway Patrol reported. The driver and passenger of a 2014 Hyundai Elantra were killed as a result of a broadside crash with a 2017 Buick Regal, CHP officials said. The driver of the Hyundai, Mario Mazariegos Rivera, and his passenger, Stephany Cartagena-Bronfield, were pronounced dead at the scene. The Buick’s driver was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. He was later identified as 30-year-old Warnervee Walton. Walton was the lone occupant inside the Buick. The people involved in the crash were all residents of Los Angeles. The CHP’s Central Los Angeles area office urged anyone with information regarding the crash to call it at 213-744-2331.

USC Receiver Bru McCoy Temporarily Removed From Team After Partner Violence Arrest
USC receiver Bru McCoy was arrested last month on suspicion of felony intimate partner violence with injury and has been “temporarily removed from team activities” ahead of the Trojans’ preseason training camp this week, The Times has learned. “USC does not condone violence of any kind,” the university’s athletic department said in a statement. “We are aware of the situation, and USC’s Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX is reviewing it. Because of federal student privacy laws, we are unable to share additional information at this time.” A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson confirmed McCoy was arrested on July 24 at 5:30 p.m. on suspicion of intimate partner violence with injury. The violation, listed under California Penal Code section 273.5(a), pertains to a person who “willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” upon a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant or dating partner. McCoy was released that same night on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 24.
Los Angeles Times

Man Pleads No Contest In Deadly Stabbing At Bus Stop
A Baldwin Hills resident was sentenced Monday to six years in state prison for fatally stabbing a man following a dispute at a South Los Angeles bus stop a day after Christmas in 2018. Tyron Darell Vazquez, now 36, was immediately sentenced following his no contest plea to voluntary manslaughter, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Vazquez admitted a knife use allegation in connection with the plea. He had initially been charged with murder for the Dec. 26, 2018, killing of Alejandro Saenz, 36, of South Los Angeles. The two men got into a fight after they left a public transit bus at Central and Vernon avenues in South Los Angeles, and Vazquez fled from the area after stabbing Saenz multiple times, prosecutors said. Saenz died at a hospital. Vazquez was arrested nearly a month later by Los Angeles police after being identified with the help of images released to the public by investigators. He has remained in custody since then.

Anderson Composites Teams Up With Acceler8 Automotive Education Program
Anderson Composites has become a sponsor for the Acceler8 Education Program in the Los Angeles, California area. This program is automotive based which offers hands-on seminars for young men and women aged 14-24 who are at risk of negative engagement with law enforcement. This program seeks to teach students leadership and life skills to help them enter the workforce. Seminar classes are held in the vault of the well-known, Petersen Automobile Museum in Los Angeles which has a vast collection of vehicles along with a state-of-the art shop/garage. The program is lead by police Sergeant Charles Woodruff and Senior Officer Derrick Boykins and staffed by a number of experienced volunteers that seek to make a difference in their communities. The goal is to also develop positive relationships with law enforcement mentors at this critical age when kids need more support and guidance to making good decisions. The shared enthusiasm for automobiles establishes the common ground for students and mentors to bond while acquiring skills. The students participate in classroom activities and work on project vehicles, learn how to use tools safely, auto body repair, painting, wiring, tire change and other fundamental skills. The Acceler8 program has connected with the Los Angeles Police Department Community Safety Partnership Unit to further its presence and becoming mentors for students.
Race Pages Digital

Pedestrian Killed In Santa Monica Hit-and-Run Crash
A pedestrian was killed Monday morning in a hit-and-run crash in Santa Monica, police said. The crash happened about 1 a.m. in the 3100 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica police Sgt. D. Oshiro said. The pedestrian died at a hospital after transport by paramedics, Oshiro said. Santa Monica Boulevard was shut down between Berkeley and Franklin streets for an investigation, he said. That included checking surveillance video in the area in search of a vehicle description. The pedestrian's age and gender were not available.

Trial Begins For Homeless Man Accused Of Raping Santa Monica Woman
The first day of Dylan James Jensen's trial for the alleged rape of a Santa Monica woman began Monday. Jensen, 42, who was homeless when he was arrested, is accused of Rape, Sodomy, Sexual Battery, Burglary and Assault with a Deadly Weapon. The alleged rape took place on June 4, 2018 at about 5:55 a.m., near 4th Street and Ashland, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. Police say that Jensen entered the victim's apartment through an unlocked sliding door of an elevated patio, took a knife from the kitchen, and went into the victim's bedroom while she was sleeping. During her testimony Monday, the victim said that she woke up to Jensen putting his hands over her mouth and a knife up to her face. She said she began to make noise but that Jensen had repeatedly told her to "shut up." The victim said Jensen then began stabbing her bed multiple times. She described trying to be as still as she could so that she wouldn't get stabbed. "All I could think was that I could die, and what can I do to survive this," the victim said in tears. While testifying about the alleged rape, the victim said that Jensen was not making a lot of sense--and, at one point, described him as schizophrenic or high or on drugs. She said he would speak "gibberish," and that his conversations were all over the place. She said at one point she believed he thought she was someone else. "He kept saying that I was cheating on him. Like he thought he knew me."
Westside Current

Man Killed In Overnight Shooting In East LA
Authorities on Sunday were investigating the circumstances surrounding a shooting death of a man in East Los Angeles. The shooting unfolded around 3:20 a.m. in the 1200 block of S. McDonnell Avenue. It was there that authorities responded to find the victim. He died at the scene. He was described as a Black man in his 40s. Anyone with information was asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

Missing Bay Area Man With Dementia, 84, Found Safe In LA
An 84-year-old man whose concerning absence spurred a large volunteer-led weekend search has been found about 350 miles away in Los Angeles, authorities said. In a statement Monday afternoon, police said Ramon Fernandez was located safe and alone around 3 p.m. Police said Los Angeles County adult-protective services staff would coordinate his return. Fernandez had last been seen about 7:30 a.m. Friday in the 1200 block of A Street. In his wake, Antioch police officers and detectives as well as more than 45 volunteers from the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team combed the city for signs of him, and the California Highway Patrol had issued a “silver alert” for him. Fernandez has dementia and usually uses a wheelchair but had been seen on video surveillance without it, authorities said.
Los Angeles Daily News

West Hollywood Man Gets 12 Years For ‘Most Brazen And Heartless’ Mortgage Fraud
A West Hollywood man who defrauded more than 2,000 homeowners and caused $7.6 million in losses was sentenced Monday to more than 12 1/2 years in federal prison, authorities said. Patrick Soria, 35, was “a skillful conman who created a very sophisticated scheme,” U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer said, according to a statement from the U.S. district attorney’s office. “This is not the largest case I have presided over in terms of dollars, but it is the most brazen and heartless,” Fischer said. Prosecutors said Soria ran the mortgage fraud scheme around the country. He made phony filings at county recorders’ offices claiming to own properties that he then sold. He used the money to fund a lifestyle that included escort services, luxury hotel stays and rentals of fancy cars, such as a Lamborghini, the prosecutors said. Soria also defrauded some homeowners by befriending them and convincing them that he could reduce their mortgage payments by modifying their loans or taking over their mortgages from their lenders, prosecutors said.
Los Angeles Daily News

San Diego Bans Firearm Parts Without Serial Numbers To Combat Ghost Guns
In response to the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, the San Diego City Council on Monday approved a ban on the sale and possession of gun frames and firearms that lack a serial number. “Today we are here to take action to combat the proliferation of non-serialized, nontraceable ghost guns because we have had enough,” Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, who introduced the ordinance, said at Civic Center Plaza before the council meeting. She was joined by advocates of gun-violence prevention — who urged the City Council to approve the measure. In recent years, the number of ghost guns San Diego police confiscated skyrocketed. As of Wednesday, police had recovered 255 ghost guns this year, more than the 211 ghost guns seized all of last year. Ghost guns, or guns without serial numbers, often end up in the hands of criminals, gang members or others who are legally prohibited from having guns. The gun frames are legally sold in kits along with other parts. City and police officials say the parts are easily assembled and that the process creates loopholes in background check requirements and state law, which requires that guns be marked with serial numbers. The state Department of Justice issues unique serial numbers to applicants who meet a set of requirements, including passing a background check.
San Diego Union Tribune

2 More Officers Who Responded To Jan. 6 Attack Die By Suicide; Total Rises To 4
Two more officers who responded to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol have died by suicide, police confirmed on Monday. That doubles the suicide death toll. Officer Gunther Hashida, an 18-year veteran, was found dead in his home last Thursday, a Metropolitan Police (MPD) spokesperson told CBS News. Hours after Hashida’s death was announced, MPD confirmed that Officer Kyle DeFreytag had taken his own life on July 10. Freytag had been with the department since 2016, according to the report. DeFreytag and Hashida are the third and fourth officers to die by suicide after being sent to the Capitol on January 6. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide on Jan. 9, days before MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith.

Man Repeatedly Stabs K-9, Is Fatally Shot, Officials Say
A suspect was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy after the man stabbed a K9, then charged at deputies, according to reports. Jacob Bender, 39, was killed in the incident at a home Monday night, Fox 17 reports. The K9, named Kuno, was recovering after being treated by a veterinarian for three stab wounds. The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office tells that deputies were at the home at 9:30 p.m. Monday after receiving reports of a domestic dispute. They found out that Bender was hiding in a crawl space in the basement of the home. Bender had multiple warrants out for his arrest, WWMT Channel 3 reports. When Kuno found Bender in the crawl space, Bender stabbed the dog, reports say. Bender then reportedly charged at a deputy while still armed with a knife and tried to stab him. WWMT reports a deputy used a stun gun on Bender, but it had no effect. That’s when at least one deputy opened fire, killing Bender.

Shaun King Criticized For Moving Into $842,000 House After Asking For Personal Donations For His Wife
Controversial activist Shaun King is being criticized for moving into an $842,000 five-bedroom home in New Jersey a month after asking for personal donations for his wife to “alleviate some pressure” she was feeling during schooling. The Daily Dot previously reported on July 18 that King was taking a social media break for the rest of the month. He deactivated his Twitter—much to the delight of Twitter users—and announced he was deleting the Facebook app. The social media hiatus came shortly after King reached out to his followers on Facebook and asked them to give a small monetary donation to his wife as she dealt with school-related financial stress. He then listed her CashApp and Venmo account information. This weekend, it was reported that the King family moved from their two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, New York, to their new estate—which Rai bought—in New Jersey. The move garnered criticism from people online who view King as a grifter due to accusations claiming he pocketed money raised for the Black Lives Matter movement. In June, Samira Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, called King an “imposter that can not be trusted.” In the past, King has also been accused of fundraising for projects that were never completed. Given King’s controversial history, people were weary of King’s requests for donations to his wife, especially after she purchased the large lakeside home.
Daily Dot

Ammunition Shortage Affects Police As US Gun Sales Soar
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with record sales of firearms, has fueled a shortage of ammunition in the United States that’s impacting law enforcement agencies, people seeking personal protection, recreational shooters and hunters -- and could deny new gun owners the practice they need to handle their weapons safely. Manufacturers say they’re producing as much ammunition as they can, but many gun store shelves are empty and prices keep rising. Ammunition imports are way up, but at least one U.S. manufacturer is exporting ammo. All while the pandemic, social unrest and a rise in violent crime have prompted millions to buy guns for protection or to take up shooting for sport. “We have had a number of firearms instructors cancel their registration to our courses because their agency was short on ammo or they were unable to find ammo to purchase,” said Jason Wuestenberg, executive director of the National Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. Doug Tangen, firearms instructor at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, the police academy for the state, said the academy also has had trouble obtaining ammo.
Associated Press

Public Safety News

Firefighters Rescue Driver Whose Vehicle Overturned In Pacoima Wash
A vehicle went off a street and into the Pacoima Wash in North Hills Sunday night, leaving firefighters to rescue the driver with a litter basket. The crash was reported at 10:25 p.m. on the 15000 block of Parthenia Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Nicholas Prange. The patient got out of the upside-down vehicle in the wash and seemed to have minor injuries, Prange said. Firefighters planned to use a litter basket to remove the person and to then take the patient to a hospital for treatment, he said. No further information was available.
Los Angeles Daily News

Scorching Heat, Strong Winds Brings Elevated Wildfire Risk To LA Region
Gusty winds coupled with high temperatures will bring about dangerous wildfire conditions across the Southland Monday through Thursday. Temperatures are expected to hit triple-digits Monday. Gusty southwest to northwest winds, combined with low humidity and high temperatures will make conditions ripe for wildfires, the National Weather Service reports. Two small fires broke out over the weekend. The Hungry Fire broke out Saturday afternoon and has burned 340 acres in the Gorman area. Crews had stopped forward progress of the blaze by 6 p.m. Sunday. The fire forced the evacuation of the Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Park. No structures were damaged or destroyed. A brush fire also burned about 27 acres near the MillerCoors brewing plant in Irwindale Sunday afternoon. That fire was fully contained. There were no injuries or damage to structures. The cause of both fires is under investigation. A heat advisory will be in effect for the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys from 10 a.m. Monday to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Temperatures could reach 107 degrees.

CDC: Less Than 1% Of Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases Led To Hospitalization Or Death
According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on breakthrough COVID-19 cases, less than 1% of people who have contracted the novel coronavirus despite being vaccinated have either been hospitalized or died. Though hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 breakthrough infections can happen in rare cases, the data highlights just how uncommon such cases are. As of July 26, the CDC reported that 163 million Americans had been vaccinated for COVID-19. Out of those inoculations in the same timeframe, 6,587 Covid-19 breakthrough cases occurred that either resulted in hospitalization or death. Out of the 6,587 cases, 1,263 vaccinated people died from COVID-19, according to the CDC. About 95% of the reported breakthrough cases were hospitalizations. The majority of breakthrough COVID-19 cases that resulted in hospitalization or death were in elderly people, 48% of whom were women. Twenty-four percent of the breakthrough deaths were reported as asymptomatic or not related to COVID-19, according to the CDC.
FOX 11

Rash Of California Wildfires Sparked By Lightning Stresses Resources
Two lightning-sparked fires burning in remote Northern California forests prompted evacuation warnings and strained firefighting resources already stretched thin by an unusually early and active burning season. The Monument and McFarland fires were two of at least nine ignited in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest as thunderstorms rolled through Thursday to Saturday. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation warnings for the communities of Big Bar and Del Loma on both sides of the Trinity River about 10 p.m. Saturday as the Monument fire grew rapidly, threatening about 22 homes. By Sunday afternoon, the McFarland fire had spurred an evacuation order for residents of the town of Wildwood, which includes about 60 homes. The fires were burning amid historically dry conditions and a series of heat waves linked to human-caused climate change. It was the area’s third-warmest July on record, with the average high in Ukiah over 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures there remained about 5 degrees above normal Sunday.
Los Angeles Times

Local Government News

L.A.'s New Homeless Encampment Law: A Humane Approach Or Cruel To Unhoused People?
A sweeping ordinance outlawing camping around parks, libraries and other facilities was approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council. Mayor Eric Garcetti quickly signed the ordinance, which is expected to go into effect next month. The ordinance marks the city’s latest attempt to address homeless camping at a time when business leaders, neighborhood groups and others are voicing alarm over reduced access to sidewalks, parks and other public spaces. Backers have called the ordinance a more humane way to clear encampments, with outreach teams offering shelter and services before any enforcement takes place. Critics say it punishes people for living on the street and argue that the city should put its energies into building housing for the city’s neediest people. The ordinance prohibits sitting, sleeping or storing items on public property near “sensitive” uses — libraries, parks, daycare centers and schools. But it also states that enforcement in any of those locations would not occur until the City Council has reviewed each location and voted to give the go-ahead. Council votes also would be required for the ordinance to be enforced on public areas near freeways, bridges, railroad tracks and recently built homeless shelters. In addition, the council would need to weigh in if the city determined that an encampment is an ongoing threat to public safety.
Los Angeles Times



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