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Jul 2021
Newswatch July 19, 2021

Law Enforcement News

City Of L.A. Seeing Spike In Killings Despite Overall Dip In Crime
Overall crime in the city of Los Angeles dipped slightly in the first half of the year, but the number of killings soared to its highest level in more than a decade, according to a report released Friday, July 16. Data compiled by Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based at the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, show there were 179 killings in the city between Jan 1 and June 30, a 31.6% jump from the same period last year and a 38.8% increase from 2019. January was the deadliest month of the year so far, with 39 people killed, according to Crosstown. There were 38 killings in June. The city is on pace to surpass last year, when Los Angeles saw more than 300 killings for the first time in more than a decade, Crosstown reported. There were 343 killings in the city last year, up 34% from 2019. Crosstown noted that the number of killings in the city began spiking shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Overall crime in the city, however, is actually down 4% in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period last year. But killings are up, and aggravated assaults have risen by 13%, according to Crosstown.
Los Angeles Daily News

LAPD Searching For Suspects Who Murdered Store Clerk Over Cases Of Beer
The Los Angeles Police Department is searching for two suspects accused in the murder of a store clerk who reportedly attempted to stop the pair from stealing cases of beer. The fatal attack was reported on Thursday around 8:40 p.m. at the Rite Aid in Glassell Park, located in the 4000 block of Eagle Rock Boulevard in Los Angeles. The victim was identified as 36-year-old Los Angeles resident Miguel Penaloza. The LAPD said that two unidentified suspects entered the business, walked directly to the beer display and took a case of beer each. Penaloza, an employee of the business, confronted the suspects as they attempted to flee without paying. A brief struggle over the beer took place and one of the suspects brandished a firearm and shot Penaloza, killing him. The suspects fled through the parking lot in an unknown direction, according to the LAPD. The first suspect was described by police as a Hispanic male, roughly 18 to 20 years old, standing 5-feet-6-inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, black shorts, and black shoes with white trim. The second suspect was described by police as a Hispanic male, roughly 18 to 20 years old, standing 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with a large square print on the back, tan or grey pants, and black shoes.
FOX 11

Father Charged In Death Of 17-Month-Old Son Found At South LA Motel
A man accused in the death of his son, who was found unresponsive at a South Los Angeles motel, was charged Friday with murder. Shane Zachary Flowers, 23, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and was being held on $100,000 bail. His arraignment Friday was postponed to Aug. 23. He faces charges of murder and assault on a child causing death. Los Angeles police responded around 11:10 a.m. Tuesday to the Rosa Bell Motel in the 5600 block of South Western Avenue, where they found the boy - 17-month-old Dee'ago Alexander Jones -- unconscious and not breathing. The toddler died at a hospital. The boy's mother, Ryanna Jones, said that Flowers confessed to punching the boy after tripping over a video game controller. The child fell down, hit his head and lost consciousness. "He told me that he didn't think he hit him that hard for him to pass away," Jones told the station. "And I kept telling him, stop hitting my son. And every time I told him to stop, I got the outcome. I was getting beat up." Jones said she didn't know why Flowers "would run from this situation and just leave us there, and not come back." "He didn't even call to make sure her was even alive or OK," Jones told the station.

Skeletal Remains Found As Investigators Search Ballona Wetlands For 32-Year-Old Woman Who Vanished In 2020: LAPD
Investigators found skeletal remains on Friday during a search for a missing 32-year-old woman, last seen in December 2020, at the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and Ballona Creek, the Los Angeles Police Department said. Family members and friends of Kolby Story joined in the Friday probe of the 600 acres of wetlands. LAPD said she was last seen on Dec. 7 in the 12300 block of Pacific Avenue in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles. LAPD Officer Tony Im told KTLA that remains, not a body, were found in the search area. It’s unclear exactly where and how the remains were found, but they will be sent to be identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. In a Facebook post after she was reported missing, Story’s brother said she was on her way to Venice Beach when she disappeared. Officials told KTLA that Friday’s search was prompted by a good Samaritan who found some of Story’s personal belongings and turned them in to police. Anyone with information about the missing woman is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division at 213-486-6890.

Mat George, Popular Podcast Host, Killed In Hit-and-Run In L.A.
With an infectious personality and comical takes on dating, Mat George quickly created a large community as co-host of the popular two-year-old dating and relationship podcast “She Rates Dogs.” George, 26, died early Saturday when a driver struck him as he walked in an unmarked crosswalk in Beverly Grove in what police described as a hit-and-run collision. A white BMW was traveling east on Beverly Boulevard as George was crossing Croft Avenue at 2:20 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department said. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics provided medical treatment, but George was pronounced dead at the scene. Anyone with information about the hit-and-run can contact police detectives at (213) 473-0234, or make an anonymous report to the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or The city of Los Angeles is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identification, apprehension or conviction of an offender.
Los Angeles Times

Driver Fatally Wounded In Westlake Community Of Los Angeles
A motorist was fatally wounded while driving his vehicle in the Westlake community of Los Angeles, authorities said Sunday. The shooting occurred about 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Seventh and Valencia streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section. Paramedics rushed the victim to an area hospital, where he later died from his injuries. No motive or suspect information was released.

LAPD Searching For Hit-and-Run Driver In Crash That Left 18-Year-Old Skateboarder In Critical Condition In Vermont Vista
Police are asking for the public’s help in their search for a hit-and-run driver who left an 18-year-old severely injured in the Vermont Vista neighborhood of South Los Angeles on Friday night. The incident occurred around 6:10 p.m. near the intersection of West Colden Avenue and South Figueroa Street, according to the LAPD. A driver traveling westbound on Colden Avenue from Figueroa Street collided with an 18-year-old on a skateboard traveling in the same direction on Colden Avenue, authorities said. Police said the impact caused the victim to be thrown off from the skateboard and onto the roadway. Meanwhile, the driver did not stop and continued westbound on Colden Avenue. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported the victim to Harbor UCLA Medical Center in critical condition, officials said. Authorities have not yet released the victim’s identity until family members are notified. Detectives from the South Traffic Division are still in the early stages of the investigation and will provide more information on the suspect and the vehicle description when it becomes available. Authorities are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for community members who can provide information leading to the suspect’s identification and arrest.

Dozens Arrested After LAPD Sends Alert Warning Of Unlawful Assembly During Koreatown Spa Protests
Dozens were arrested and weapons were found scattered across the ground in Koreatown where dueling protests over transgender rights outside a local spa Saturday prompted police to send a mass alert warning of an unlawful assembly, with authorities sending a public safety alert to people in the area warning that those who did not disperse would face arrest. LAPD said in a tweet around 3:15 p.m. that "several dozen" people were arrested after failing to leave the area, and "numerous weapons" were found. Police also said smoke bombs and projectiles were thrown at officers. The alert sent to cell phones of people who were in the area at the time stated that "the LAPD will arrest you if you do not leave the area immediately." The demonstrations, similar to previous incidents outside the Wi Spa in the 2700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, were apparently fueled by the spa's policy, which accepts transgender customers. A protest earlier this month was sparked by a viral video posted by a woman upset that a person who identified as female was allowed to disrobe in the women's section of the spa.

Man Serving Remainder Of 15-Year Sentence Escapes From LA Reentry Program Facility
Authorities Friday were looking for an offender who walked away from a community reentry program facility in the Los Angeles area. Bryant Jefferson was discovered missing from the facility about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Jefferson 39, is Black, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 166 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black shirt. Jefferson had been sentenced to serve 15 years for second-degree robbery, a second-strike offense, and had arrived at the Los Angeles area reentry facility on April 1. He was scheduled to be released from custody in May of 2022. Anyone who sees Jefferson or has any knowledge of his whereabouts should immediately contact law enforcement or call 911. The MCRP allows eligible offenders committed to state prison to serve the end of their sentences in the re-entry center and provides them the programs and tools necessary to transition from custody to the community.

Man Stabbed To Death In Compton
Sheriff’s detectives were investigating the stabbing death of a man Saturday in Compton. The stabbing was reported at 5:19 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 2400 block of El Segundo Boulevard, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Koerner. “Responding deputies discovered the victim unresponsive in a courtyard within the apartment complex, suffering from apparent stab wounds,” Koerner said. The victim was taken by paramedics to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, he said. His name was withheld pending notification of family. No suspect information was immediately available, nor was a motive for the killing. Anyone with information on this death was asked to call the LASD’s homicide unit at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 900-222-TIPS (8477).

Man Arrested For Trying To Kidnap 2 Girls In Hawthorne: Police
A 26-year-old man was arrested after allegedly trying to kidnap two young girls in Hawthorne, officials announced Friday. Just before 1 p.m. Thursday, officers responded to a report of a possible kidnapping in the 12700 block of Oxford Avenue, the Hawthorne Police Department said in a news release Friday. Two victims, ages 13 and 14, were walking when a man they didn’t know offered to explore the area with them, and tried to lure them into a car that he said was parked nearby, according to police. Both girls ran away from the man and to a nearby convenience store. A few minutes later, the girls started walking home and noticed the same man involved in a verbal altercation with a passerby. The man then turned his attention back to the two girls and began chasing them on foot, police said. One of the victims said the man grabbed her around the waist from behind but she was able to break free. The girls ran into the courtyard of a nearby apartment complex, where a resident heard the commotion and came out. The resident confronted the man, who then left the property. The incident was then reported to police.

Michael Gargiulo Aka 'Hollywood Ripper' Sentenced To Death For Killing, Mutilating 2 SoCal Women
Michael Gargiulo, the so-called "Hollywood Ripper" and "The Boy Next Door Killer," has been sentenced to death for killing and mutilating two Southern California women, including one who died hours before she was set to go out with actor Ashton Kutcher. In court Friday, Gargiulo again denied involvement in the attacks. "I'm innocent," he said. "I've been framed by tunnel-vision detectives." Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler chose between a death sentence and life in prison without the possibility of parole for Gargiulo, 45, who was convicted in August 2019 of the home-invasion murders of two women and the attempted murder of a third. His case received added attention because one of his victims was about to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, who testified at the trial. A jury recommended his execution in October 2019, but the pandemic and procedural issues forced several delays in his sentencing. He’s also facing a future trial for a 1997 killing in his Illinois hometown. Prosecutors in his California trial were allowed to present extensive evidence from that case as they sought to establish a pattern and present Gargiulo as a serial killer.
FOX 11

4 Wealthy Donors Fuel Overhaul Of California's Criminal Justice System
Four wealthy activists intent on reshaping California's criminal justice system are gearing up for their biggest test yet against police and prosecutor groups. The Northern California donors, some with fortunes from major Silicon Valley firms, have already spent millions on progressive prosecutors and ballot fights that have helped untether the state from its tough-on-crime past. Now, California's 2022 attorney general race could be a landmark moment. The social justice movement has never lacked for energy, and last year’s police killing of George Floyd sparked waves of support for Black Lives Matter and other efforts that have challenged police policies and sentencing requirements as racist. Progressive donors in recent years have strategically targeted prosecutor races in major cities because district attorneys wield power over sentencing and investigations. In California, social justice advocates are preparing to defend the state’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Rob Bonta, who is closely aligned with the reform movement and one of the nation’s most liberal AGs. The former state legislator was nominated to the post this year by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Bonta’s election contest next year is expected to be a criminal justice bellwether.

EMTs, Firefighters Targeted In Arizona Shooting; 2 Dead
At least two people are dead, several have been wounded and three children are missing after a series of attacks Sunday afternoon that Tucson's police chief called "horrific." The 35-year-old man police say is the attacker was in "extremely critical" condition Sunday night after a gunfight with a Tucson police officer. The deadly attacks started about 3:45 p.m. when a house fire was reported in the 2100 block of East Irene Vista, near South Kino Parkway and East 36th Street, Police Chief Chris Magnus said Sunday night. Soon after the fire was reported a gunman walked up to two emergency medical technicians parked nearby at Quincy Douglas Center and opened fire through the driver's side window of the AMR ambulance company rig. The paramedic behind the wheel, a 20-year-old man, was shot in the head. He was in critical condition Sunday night. The paramedic in the passenger seat, 21, was shot in the chest and arm. However, she was able to call for help and described the attacker and the SUV he was driving, police say. She was in stable condition Sunday night.

Philly Hits 300 Killings This Year As Its Record Pace Continues
Someone opened fire late Thursday night on a North Philadelphia street and shot three people, one of whom died and became the city's 300th homicide victim of 2021. Police did not identify the man who died, and released few details about the crime, which they said happened on the 1800 block of West Susquehanna Avenue around 11:30 p.m. The other victims, authorities said, were a 14-year-old girl who was shot in the chest and a 24-year-old man struck in the shoulder. Both were hospitalized, the girl in critical condition. The fatal shooting meant that the city had reached 300 killings more quickly in a single year than any since at least the 1970s. And it kept Philadelphia on pace to top not only last year's 499 homicides, but also its all-time record of 500 slayings in a year, set in 1990. The incident was one of at least three shootings overnight, according to police. In all, six people were wounded or killed. Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters at the scene of the Susquehanna Avenue shooting that the teen was struck by stray bullets on her front porch as unidentified gunmen fired toward houses on the block.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Public Safety News

LAFD Responds To Rubish Fire Near Abbot Kinney Friday
Numerous people were on hand Friday evening as the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a rubbish fire located at 1600 Alhambra Court, just off Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It happened around 7:30 p.m., according to the LAFD. Firefighters say the fire was put out before crews responded to the scene. No word on what caused the fire. No injuries were reported.
Venice Current

LA County Reports 1,827 New Cases Of COVID-19, 11 Deaths And Spiking Hospitalizations
While the new mask mandates goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday night, Los Angeles County continues to report growing numbers of new coronavirus cases, along with skyrocketing hospitalizations. The county reported 1,827 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths on Saturday. Health officials attributed the recent spike to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown. Saturday’s daily test positivity rate was 3.7%. On July 4, it was near 1.5% and on June 15, test positivity was near 0.5%. Hospitalizations are also on the rise in LA, with county officials reporting a jump from 462 on Friday to 507 on Saturday. The number of patients in intensive care remained at 103. The latest figures lifted the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,266,227 cases and 24,579 fatalities, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

L.A. County Coronavirus Spike Hits Alarming Levels, With 10,000 Infected In A Week, As Delta Variant Spreads
Los Angeles County is now recording more than 10,000 coronavirus cases a week — a pace not seen since March — an alarming sign of the dangers the Delta variant poses to people who have not been vaccinated and heightening pressure on health officials to reverse the trend. A Los Angeles Times data analysis found L.A. County was recording 101 weekly coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, up from 12 for the seven-day period that ended June 15. That means the county has surpassed the threshold to have “high” community transmission of the disease, the worst tier as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A region must hit 100 or more weekly cases per 100,000 residents to enter the worst tier. It’s still far fewer than during the deadly winter surge, when L.A. County was recording more than 1,000 weekly cases for every 100,000 residents, but it underscores growing concerns that unvaccinated people are at heightened risk. The rise here and elsewhere is the reason why 11 counties — home to more than half of Californians — are urging all residents regardless of vaccination status to wear masks in indoor public settings.
Los Angeles Times



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