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Jul 2021
Newswatch July 13, 2021

Law Enforcement News

LAPD Searching For Driver Who Drove Over Manhole, Killing Pedestrian Inside It
The LAPD is looking to identify a driver who ran over a manhole on Saturday in Panorama City, killing a pedestrian who was inside it attempting to push the lid open, it was reported Monday. According to the LAPD, around 10:25 a.m. Saturday, a 2008-2012 white Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck was traveling westbound on Parthenia Street when it drove over the manhole cover as a man underneath the manhole cover was attempting to open it. Authorities have not said why the pedestrian was in the manhole in the first place. "The public is reminded that manholes are used for city services to access various maintenance tunnels that are located underground. Manhole covers should not be disturbed or moved due to their weight and could cause serious injury or death," LAPD said in a statement Monday.
FOX 11

Man Arrested In Chatsworth Shooting That Injured 3
A 38-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of wounding three people in a shooting at a Chatsworth strip mall nearly two months ago. Richard Arturo Gandara III, of San Fernando, was allegedly involved in a physical altercation about 12:30 a.m. on May 16 with security guards and another person at the shopping mall in the 20900 block of Lassen Street. He allegedly retrieved a handgun and “fired numerous times in the direction of an operating business,” shooting three people in the process, then fled in a vehicle driven by an unknown suspect, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. Gandara was arrested Monday in San Fernando and booked on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, the LAPD reported.
Los Angeles Daily News

Woman Wounded By Gunfire In Watts
A woman was in stable condition at an area hospital from a gunshot wound suffered Sunday in the Watts community of Los Angeles, authorities said. The shooting occurred at about 12:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of East 109th Street, said Officer Rosario Cervantes of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section. The woman was taken by a family member to a hospital, where she was listed in stable condition, Cervantes said. A motive for the shooting was not immediately known, and no suspect information was released.

Exclusive Video: LAPD Set Up Sting Operation To Curb Illegal Street Racing
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic Division set up a sting with California Highway Patrol Sunday to stop street racers in their tracks. The operation included some 54 officers who gathered for a briefing before fanning out across the valley. “We wanna solve the problem,” Sgt. Jodie McGee with LAPD Valley Traffic said, “and the only way to solve the problem is arresting these guys and hitting them where it counts and that’s where it cost them money.” McGee, who headed up the operation, said it’s never hard to see where the racers have been, though catching them in the act is more often the hard part. “They’ll be under-covers in the area. They keep us posted on what’s going on. If they leave, then they’ll follow them and let us know exactly where they’re going,” McGee told CBSLA’s Joy Benedict. By 8 p.m. officers were aware of social media reports mentioning a gathering of street racers in Sylmar. As police met nearby, awaiting an exact location, the group of racers got on the freeway and were able to shake the undercover officers tailing them. However, some of the vehicles suspected of being involved in illegal racing were spotted. Officers swooped in, rounding up about a dozen vehicles in Shadow Hills and detaining the drivers.

White House Creates Gun Trafficking Strike Force For Los Angeles
The White House announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice launched a gun trafficking strike force in Los Angeles to prevent guns coming across state lines from areas with weaker gun laws. The funding for the strike forces -- which will also be in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., the Bay Area -- comes from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, according to the White House. The strike forces will work to combat gun violence by targeting firearms that enter from other states with less restrictive gun laws. "With gun violence surging by 70% here in Los Angeles for the first four months of this year, the latest actions by the Biden Administration are timely and needed," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer who also co-chairs Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, a coalition of 46 prosecutors working toward solutions to end gun violence. "I've spoken at length with the ATF special agent in-charge of this effort in L.A., and welcome the Department of Justice's gun trafficking strike force as a much needed ingredient in getting a handle on illegal crime guns in our city," Feuer added. Los Angeles, like other cities across the U.S., has experienced an increase in shooting violence and homicides amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of June 22, the number of shooting victims in 2021 had increased by 50% compared to the same period last year.
FOX 11

Body Is Found On Malibu Beach
The body of a man was found washed up on a Malibu beach early Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. The remains of a man believed to be in his 60s were discovered on the shoreline near Big Rock about 6:15 a.m., authorities said. Deputies could be seen on the beach in the early light in the 20000 block of Pacific Coast Highway near Big Rock Drive with what appeared to be a white covering atop a large mound in the wet sand. Los Angeles County paramedics responded to the scene and declared the man dead. The Local, a Malibu news blog, first reported the story. The cause of death is pending determination by the Los Angeles County coroner, officials said. Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident.
Los Angeles Times

Prosecutors In Kristin Smart Murder Case Aim To Add L.A. Rape Charges Against Paul Flores
San Luis Obispo County prosecutors are seeking to amend their murder case against Paul Flores in the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart to include two allegations of rape of unconscious women in the Los Angeles area. Prosecutors will argue a motion Wednesday to amend the murder charge against Flores. They have said he killed Smart, a 19-year-old fellow student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, during the commission of a rape or attempted rape in his dormitory the night she vanished 25 years ago. Authorities did not spell out the specifics of the new charges in court. But last week, a judge referenced case law in which rape cases were attached to crimes in a different county. Los Angeles Police Capt. Jonathan Tippett, who oversees the Robbery-Homicide Division, said San Luis Obispo County prosecutors were looking at two sexual assaults that occurred in the San Pedro area where Flores lived between 2013 and 2017. Tippett said the addition of the Los Angeles County rape charges will bolster the prosecution’s murder case against Flores and demonstrate a pattern of criminal behavior. A judge said Monday that a number of motions will be reviewed this week ahead of a 12-day preliminary hearing scheduled for July 20. Flores is charged with murder in the commission of a rape or attempted rape. His 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores, is charged with accessory after the fact and is accused of concealing Smart’s body after her death.
Los Angeles Times

LASD Asking For Help In Locating Angelein Socorra, Missing Woman, Last Seen A Month Ago
Authorities were asking for the public’s help on Monday to locate a 30-year-old woman who went missing last month in East Los Angeles. Angelein Socorra Mejia was last seen on June 13 at her home in the 5600 block of Hubbard Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Mejia was described as Hispanic, 5’2″ and weighing 115 pounds, with brown hair and light-colored eyes. Anyone with information on her whereabouts was asked to call the sheriff’s department at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at

Man Killed By Vehicle In Culver City; Motorist Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI
A man was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking in Culver City early Monday, and the motorist was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, police said. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which occurred about 1:10 a.m. on Sepulveda Boulevard south of Venice Boulevard, Culver City police Sgt. R. Casey told City News Service. The victim’s name was withheld, pending notification of his relatives. “Culver City police officers detained the driver of the vehicle, who was at the scene of the accident,” according to a Culver City police statement. “After a field investigation, the officers determined the driver was under the influence of alcohol and subsequently placed the driver under arrest for … felony driving while under the influence.” The motorist’s name was not immediately released.

Woman With Amnesia Found Wandering In Davis Neighborhood Identified As Missing Person From L.A. Area
A woman in Davis suffering from amnesia has been identified by authorities as a missing person from the Los Angeles area, KTLA sister station KTXL reported. On May 30, a woman was found wandering through a Davis cul-de-sac and into the backyard on the other side of a fence. Authorities soon discovered the woman could not identify herself and transported her to an area care facility, hoping someone would soon recognize her. Detectives received a tip regarding the woman’s identity Friday and, after following up on the information provided, were able to confirm the woman is 46 and had been reported missing from the Los Angeles area, officials said. The woman is said to be in “good physical health” and is still currently under the care of medical professionals. Authorities have not released further details about the woman’s identity and how she ended up in Davis. No further information about her identity has been released.
FOX 11

Illegal Pot Invades California’s Deserts, Bringing Violence, Fear, Ecological Destruction
Before his corpse was dumped in a shallow grave 50 miles north of Los Angeles, Mauricio Ismael Gonzalez-Ramirez was held prisoner at one of the hundreds of black-market pot farms that have exploded across California’s high desert in the last several years, authorities say. He worked in what has become California’s newest illegal marijuana haven: the Mojave Desert. A world away from the lush forest groves of the “Emerald Triangle” of Northern California, this hot, dry, unforgiving climate has attracted more than a thousand marijuana plantations that fill the arid expanse between the Antelope Valley and the Colorado River. It’s an unprecedented siege that has upended life in the remote desert communities and vast tract developments that overlook Joshua trees and scrub. Authorities say the boom has led to forced labor, violence, water theft and the destruction of fragile desert habitat and wildlife. Longtime residents say they feel less safe, claiming black-market growers act with impunity by carrying weapons, trading gunfire with rivals and threatening those who wander too close to their farms.
Los Angeles Times

Louisiana Police Officer Shot And Killed While Responding To Call
Police in Louisiana are mourning Officer William Earl Collins Jr., who was killed Friday in the line of duty. Collins and two Webster Parish deputies were met with gunfire while responding to a call, according to the Louisiana State Police. Collins was shot and taken to a hospital where he later died. The suspect barricaded himself in the home, prompting a standoff, officials said. After several hours, law enforcement entered the home and found that the suspect had been shot. Police said the suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken to a hospital in serious condition. Collins worked part-time as an officer with the Doyline Police Department and full-time as a correctional supervisor at the Webster Parish Sheriff's Office, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

NYPD Officer Shot By BB Gun; Second Attack In Two Days
An NYPD officer was shot in the arm with a BB gun in Brooklyn Sunday night, cops said — the second pellet attack in as many days in the borough, cops said. The officer was in uniform, stepping out of a police cruiser, when he was shot on Gates Ave. between Lewis and Stuyvesant Aves. about 7 p.m., police said. He was taken to an area hospital in stable condition. Cops have made no arrests. On Saturday, an assailant randomly sprayed BBs on Mother Gaston Blvd. in Brownsville about 5:40 p.m., outside the Brownsville Houses. The pellets struck several pedestrians, broke a car window and injured a police officer responding to the scene, cops said. Police have made no arrests in either incident.
New York Daily News

Public Safety News

L.A. County Reports Fourth Straight Day Of More Than 1,000 New COVID-19 Cases
For the fourth straight day, Los Angeles County health officials on Monday reported more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 with 99% of them among people who are unvaccinated. The concerning uptick in cases comes as the highly-contagious delta variant continues to circulate locally and worldwide. “Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals. Of these cases reported today, nearly 87% were under 50 years old,” Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Public Health Director, said in a news release. Health officials reported 1,059 new cases of COVID-19 and one death on Monday. Over the weekend, the daily numbers were also above the 1,000 mark. On Sunday, there were 1,113 new cases reported, with 1,094 cases on Saturday and 1,107 infections on Friday. While the numbers are lower than they were at the peak of the pandemic, the climbing daily tallies are indicative of a spike in cases that has not been seen since early March. The increase is attributable to increased intermingling, the spread of more variants and summer social activities. Ferrer said there are still about 4 million residents that have not yet been inoculated, adding that the only way to ward off the virus is to be fully vaccinated.

California Fires Are Burning Faster, Hotter, More Intensely -- And Getting Harder To Fight
The fires have burned more than 140,000 acres, from soaring mountains along the California-Nevada border to forest north of Mt. Shasta and the gateway to Yosemite. But many of 2021’s biggest blazes have one thing in common: They are burning faster and hotter than some firefighters have seen this early in the year. A winter and spring of little rain and minimal snow runoff — followed by months of unusually warm conditions and several summer heat waves — left the vegetation primed to burn fast, giving crews little time to get a handle on the flames before they explode. Vegetation is at record-dry levels for this time of the year, and it is at least six weeks ahead of where it should be, UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said. It is most anomalously dry in Northern California, where many of the recent fires have ignited. Though the bone-dryness alone can’t foretell how many fires will ignite in a given year, Swain said, it can say a lot about the character of the fires that occur. “All else equal, drier vegetation means more intense fires,” Swain said, noting that “intensity” refers both to the heat of a fire and to its behavior.
Los Angeles Times



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