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Dec 2021
Newswatch December 20, 2021

Law Enforcement News

Reward Offered For Information In Fatal Shooting Of Man At Debs Park
Authorities and family members are offering a $50,000 reward for information regarding the killing of a man at Debs Park in September. The incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10, when the victim, 29-year-old Jason Cortez, was walking on a hiking trail at the Montecito Heights park. Cortez was shot in the back with a rifle. He fell and was later pronounced dead, Los Angeles Police Department officials said during a news conference Friday. The gunman was possibly 75 to 100 feet away from the victim when the shot was fired, and he was last seen heading north through the park trails. The man is described as being 20 to 30 years old and stands at 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall. He was wearing a blue hoodie, police said. Family and friends who spoke at the news conference announcing the reward said the victim, who was a Virginia resident, was visiting L.A. Described as a creative who made music and videos and did editing, Cortez had flown to the city the previous day and was working on a project with a friend when he was gunned down. “This is another representation of just another senseless killing,” Detective Alex Abundis said. “There is no reason, there is no motive behind this.”

Rapper Drakeo The Ruler Dies After Being Stabbed At Once Upon A Time In L.A. Concert
Los Angeles rapper Drakeo the Ruler has died after he was stabbed Saturday night at a music show at Exposition Park. The rapper, whose real name is Darrell Caldwell, was stabbed at the "Once Upon a Time in L.A." concert slated to run until 11 p.m. According to reports published by the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone, the rapper died after being hospitalized in critical condition. Dozens of artists had been scheduled to perform on the concert's three stages, including Al Green, 50 Cent, YG, Ice Cube, The Game, Cypress Hill and Drakeo the Ruler. Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent were among those who did not take the stage as a result of the festival's abrupt ending. The incident prompted a massive response by the LAPD and California Highway Patrol. Officers from both agencies, some equipped with riot gear, kept a watchful eye on audience members as they evacuated the area.

Driver Killed After SUV Crashes, Lands On Top Of Planter In Woodland Hills
A driver died after her SUV hit a curb, initiating a crash that went 1,200 feet before the SUV ended up on top of a planter in Woodland Hills early Saturday morning, Dec. 18, authorities said. The female driver was ejected from the wreckage, Los Angeles police spokeswoman Officer Norma Eisenman said. Investigators believe the driver was speeding eastbound on Victory Boulevard when, for unknown reasons, she veered and hit the curb, Eisenman said. The SUV landed on top of a planter wall on the south side of Victory Boulevard just east of Owensmouth Avenue and near Westfield Topanga & The Village. Police received a call from a passerby just after 12:20 a.m., Eisenman said. The driver’s name and age were not available. Investigators were still working to determine the cause of the crash.
Los Angeles Daily News

First LAPD Filipino-American Deputy Chief Appointed
Cmdr. Donald Graham will be promoted to deputy chief, the first Filipino-American to fill the role in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, it was announced Friday. Graham is commander of the Transit Services Division. It was not immediately known when his promotion becomes effective. Graham’s career in law enforcement began during his last semester as a student at Los Angeles Valley College when he worked for the Campus Police Office, which led him to join the LAPD in November 1995. After completing his probationary period at the Pacific Community Police Station, Graham transferred to the Devonshire Community Police Station where he worked as a patrol officer and senior lead officer before being promoted to sergeant and lieutenant while working at several other stations. Graham was promoted to captain on Oct. 5, 2014 and assumed command of the Central Patrol Division, where he became involved in the growing homeless crisis in the city. He was part of the team that revamped the Skid Row Safer Cities Initiative to the Resources Enhancement Services and Enforcement Team. Graham became the first Filipino-American to be sworn in as an LAPD commander on July 31, 2019. He was appointed by Chief Michel Moore to be the department homeless coordinator under the LAPD Office of Operations.

Lookout Bandit: LAPD Looking For Three Suspects Who Robbed Multiple 7-Eleven Stores
Detectives are asking the public for help in identifying a man and two women suspected of committing a string of hold-ups at Los Angeles 7-Eleven stores over three consecutive evenings. The robberies occurred Nov. 27-29 at 7-Elevens in communities served by the Los Angeles Police Department's Wilshire, Northeast, Foothill and Southwest divisions, according to the LAPD. The three suspects entered the stores and two approached the counter while the third stood at the door as a lookout. One suspect remained in front of the counter while the other walked behind the counter with a gun which was pointed at the clerk while money was demanded, police said. Police dubbed the crime the ‘lookout bandit robbery’. The suspects fled the stores with money and cigars, officials said. They were all described as being in their early 20s. Anyone with information about the robberies was asked to call detectives at 213-486-6840, or 877-LAPD-24-7.
FOX 11

Two Suspects Reportedly Arrested In Downtown LA Hotel Robbery
Police have reportedly arrested two people in connection with an armed robbery at a downtown Los Angeles hotel earlier this month in which cash and jewelry valued at $100,000 was taken. The arrests were made after a vehicle pursuit Friday afternoon in Echo Park, where six people were taken into custody, KTLA reported, citing Captain Stacy Spell of the Los Angeles Police Department. Detectives reportedly believe two of the six are tied to the Dec. 7 robbery at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown at 900 Wilshire Blvd. An LAPD media relations spokesperson told City News Service on Saturday that the department had not yet released a statement on the arrests. The suspects were spotted by police while getting into a vehicle on Friday and did not stop when police tried to pull them over, Spell said. The resulting chase led to the area of Echo Park and Bellevue, where the vehicle stopped and several people fled on foot, he told the station. Police were called to the hotel at 12:58 a.m. on Dec. 7 after the robbery, in which two men about 5-feet-6 inches to 5-feet-8 inches tall and wearing masks approached the victims, took about $100,000 worth of jewelry from them at gunpoint, then fled in a black, older-model BMW.

'Fed Up' Venice Residents Push Back After Another RV Fire Saturday Morning
Venice residents are pushing back after another RV fire Saturday morning. The fire happened around 4:00 a.m. on Main Street and Rose Avenue. After the fire, residents stood next to the RV with a sign that read– "Welcome to Boninville." Since September, residents have been documenting this particular RV hooking its system up to nearby electric polls and dumping its wastewater into nearby storm drains. One resident sent a video and photos of the RV dumping to Councilmember Mike Bonin's office along with other city officials with a message saying: " The sewage dumping pipe from the motorhomes is now fully extended to the drain on Main/Rose, that drains directly into the ocean. I've emailed countless times about this, and of course, I'm befuddled why it still is there. As this is both illegal and unsanitary. " The Westside Current reached out to LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) when we learned about the dumping last week. The communications department stated that LASAN dispatched a crew to investigate upon learning of the situation. LASAN said it observed four RVs and three vans and a car parked on Main Street. LASAN workers said they did observe a plastic/PVC pipe in the gutter but said it was not attached to a vehicle at that time. However, LASAN said that the occupants of the vehicles removed it upon request.
WestSide Current

LAPD Looking Into Sexual Assault Allegations Against Actor Chris Noth
The Los Angeles Police Department is working to determine whether a police report was filed and if a crime occurred in connection with sexual assault allegations made by one of two women against actor Chris Noth, and meanwhile a third woman has come forward with similar allegations. No other information is expected to be released until more is known, an LAPD spokesperson told City News Service Friday. Meanwhile, a third woman accused Noth of sexual assault, one day after the other women detailed their allegations. A 30-year-old tech executive, using the pseudonym Ava, told the Daily Beast website she was sexually assaulted by the actor when he was 55 and she was 18, working as a hostess and lounge singer at the Midtown Manhattan restaurant Da Marino in 2010. She said the two were performing together when he allegedly pulled her onto his lap while groping her and pressing me closer to him. Noth, 67, has vehemently denied all allegations, including the latest, adding that he “has no idea who this woman is.”
Los Angeles Daily News

LASD Searching For Missing ELA Teen, 14
Sheriff’s detectives asked for the public’s help Sunday to find a 14-year-old girl who went missing in East Los Angeles. Andrea Reyes was last seen around noon Saturday in the 700 block of Burger Avenue, according Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Eva Jimenez. Reyes is a Latina. She stands 4 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs about 126 pounds, according to Jimenez. She has brown shoulder-length, curly hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black hooded sweater, dark blue jeans and blue Vans shoes, Jimenez said. Anyone with information on her whereabouts was asked to call the LASD’s Missing person’s unit at 323-890-5500. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Drugs, Cash, Military-Grade Weapons Seized In Florence-Firestone Raid: Sheriff’s Department
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department found thousands of dollars in cash, drugs and military-style guns when they raided a cannabis dispensary in Florence-Firestone that allegedly had provided narcotics that were smuggled into L.A. County jails, the department announced Friday. Four people were arrested during the Dec. 9 raid in the 2000 block of East Florence Avenue, the Sheriff’s Department said. The four people who were arrested were armed with two handguns and two assault rifles that the department described as “ghost guns” — firearms without serial numbers that can be built at home to evade background checks and other licensing requirements. “The assault rifles were fully loaded with military-style tracer rounds,” the department added in a release. In addition to the guns, authorities seized 1 ounce of methamphetamine, 50 pounds of cannabis and $12,000 in cash, officials added.

Antisemitic Flyers Distributed In Pasadena And Beverly Hills, Police Say
The Pasadena and Beverly Hills police department are investigating after approximately 200 flyers containing antisemitic theories related to COVID-19 were distributed in each city Saturday night and Sunday morning, according to Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian and a statement from the Beverly Hills City Council. The flyers, which begin by claiming that “every single aspect of the COVID agenda is Jewish,” were discovered just before midnight in the southwest part of Beverly Hills, the council members’ statement said. In Pasadena, flyers were distributed between midnight and 4 a.m. near Washington Boulevard and Mentor, Catalina, Wilson and Mar Vista avenues, Derderian said. The leaflets were in plastic bags that were weighed down with pebbles, and they likely were thrown out of a passing car, Lt. Anthony Burgess, a spokesman for the department, told the Los Angeles Times. A similar incident occurred last month in Beverly Hills, when similar flyers were distributed on the first day of Hanukkah. On Instagram, Vice Mayor Lili Bosse lamented the “horrific incident.”

1 Man Dead, Another In Stable Condition After Shooting In Compton
Two men were shot in Compton Saturday, one fatally. The shooting occurred about 12:40 p.m. in the 2000 block of 120th Street, according to Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau. One man suffered a gunshot wound to the upper body and the other was wounded in one of his legs, Parra said. Both men were taken by ambulance to a hospital, where one was pronounced dead and the other had stable vital signs, she said. Witnesses told detectives they saw two men get out of a burgundy vehicle. “They walked up approximately two houses from where they opened fire on two men who were in the front yard working on a car,” Parra said. They ran back to the vehicle and fled the scene. Officers encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5000. Anonymous tips can be made through Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

San Francisco Mayor Declares Emergency In Troubled District
The mayor of San Francisco declared on Friday a state of emergency in the Tenderloin in an effort to bring down overdose deaths and violent crime in one of the city's poorest and most drug-infested neighborhoods. Mayor London Breed said at a news conference attended by the police chief and other public health personnel that rapid drug intervention is needed because about two people a day are dying of overdoses, mostly from fentanyl, in the Tenderloin and the city's South of Market neighborhood. The Tenderloin has long been an epicenter of homelessness and drug use, but city officials said the problem has worsened as the national opioid crisis escalated over the course of the pandemic. “This is a public health emergency demanding a crisis level response, with massive urgency, coordination, and determination to confront this epidemic,” Breed said, adding that she hopes the measure will save lives. The emergency declaration will allow the city to cut through red tape that delays the public response to deteriorating conditions in the Tenderloin and quickly provide shelter, counseling and medical care to people suffering from addiction, Breed and other city officials said.
Associated Press

Six Arrested In Connection With 70 Crimes Targeting California Asian Women, Police Say
Six men have been arrested in connection to a string of robberies allegedly targeting Asian women in the Bay Area, concluding a yearlong investigation, according to authorities. Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Michael Robinson of Stockton; Cameron Alonzo Moody, 27, of East Palo Alto; Derje Damond Blanks, 23, of San Jose; Hassani Burleson Ramsey, 24, of Oakland; Clarence Jackson, 21, of East Palo Alto and Malik Short, 21, of Tracy were charged with hate crime enhancements by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, San Jose police said in a Wednesday news release. The men allegedly targeted Asian women because they believed they "don't use banks" and would be carrying cash. Ethnic slurs were allegedly used against some of the women by the three men and officials said the suspects followed the women to their cars in parking lots and waited until they were inside before opening the door or breaking a window to snatch a purse from their passenger seat. The latest arrests conclude a yearlong investigation into robberies that targeted Asian women, including some who were injured during the alleged crimes, authorities said.
Mercury News

California Merchants React To Newsom's Pledge To Stop Smash-and-Grabs, Retail Theft
How do merchants feel about Governor Gavin Newsom’s spending proposals to fight California retail theft? Well, that does depend. Newsom is proposing millions of dollars in grant money in the budget to be proposed this January, including $270 million for law enforcement and prosecution, as well as $25 million for small businesses victimized by theft. But the focus remains on large gangs, multi-level operations that have been the target of CHP investigations and some arrests. But for merchants in small boutiques in Burbank, or the car cleaning supply store in Van Nuys – where security video shows a single person breaking in – the Governor’s plan seems less likely to help them. "If the criminals targeting stores are just one person, taking less than $950 in merchandise, how could they be prosecuted for anything more than a misdemeanor under proposition 47?" says one store owner. She is referring to the voter-approved proposition lowering certain drug and thefts to misdemeanors. Newsom has doubled down on his belief that Prop 47 or the zero bail policies established during the pandemic, are not an issue in the increase of retail theft crimes, calling them a "political sidebar" in the rhetoric from opponents. We asked people what they’d like the governor to do right now. The most common answer? More police on the streets.
FOX 11

2 Arrested In Ambush Shooting Of Baltimore Police Officer
Baltimore police have charged two suspects in the shooting of Officer Keona Holley, who remains on life support after being shot while sitting in her patrol car early Thursday morning, and say the men also carried out a killing an hour later in a different part of the city. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said investigators pieced evidence together including security camera footage from the Curtis Bay area and used license plate readers to identify the owner of a vehicle seen fleeing the area as Elliott M. Knox, 31. Police found Knox and took him in for questioning, where he confessed to being present but said a second man, Travon Shaw, 32, had fired the shots, according to a document obtained by The Baltimore Sun. The documents also show that Holley was shot twice in the head, one in the leg and once in the hand. A second killing was reported in the Yale Heights neighborhood about an hour later, and police believe evidence connects the suspects to that killing as well. Police identified the victim in that case as Justin Johnson, 27.
Baltimore Sun

Public Safety News

3 Hurt In Commercial Building Fire In South Los Angeles Area
Three people were injured in a fire at a commercial building in the Florence-Graham area of Los Angeles Friday. Los Angeles County Fire Department units responded at about 3 p.m. to the burning commercial structure located at 8213 Compton Ave., according to a department statement. Three people were taken from the scene to area hospitals with injuries of unknown severity. The fire department announced just after 4 p.m. that the bulk of the fire was knocked down, though crews remained at the scene to extinguish lingering hot spots. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
FOX 11

Firefighters Battle Commercial Building Fire In Arlington Heights
Los Angeles Fire Department crews were engaged with a commercial building fire located on Washington Boulevard on Sunday afternoon. As of 5:00 p.m. crews were on the offensive, working to extinguish the fire before it spread from the single unit where flames were present – what appeared to be an auto shop of sorts. Firefighters requested an additional crew to assist them in fighting the fire. The fire, officially knocked down just after 5:30 p.m., was successfully contained by firefighter crews. There was no damage to any surrounding businesses or structures. The cause of the fire is unknown, prompting an investigation.

California COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise, New L.A. County Cases Double Amid Omicron Spread
COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in California as the Omicron variant spreads, combining with a holiday wave of the Delta strain to spark concerns of yet another surge that could strain the state’s healthcare system. There were 3,589 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals as of Friday, an increase of roughly 12% from two weeks before, according to The Times’ hospitalization tracker. Some Southern California counties have seen bigger jumps, with hospitalizations rising by nearly 31% in L.A. County and by roughly 26% in Riverside County during the same period. California had recorded 49 cases of the Omicron variant as of Wednesday, although not all samples are sequenced to identify variants. That’s much lower than the 184,700 identified cases of the Delta variant, which remains dominant in the state, but health officials expect the number will rise. Omicron is thought to be more contagious than Delta and better at evading immunity generated by vaccines or previous infections, although experts say vaccines still offer protection against severe illness and death.
Los Angeles Times



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