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Jun 2022
NewsWatch June 16, 2022

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Law Enforcement News

2 El Monte Officers ID'd After Being Killed In Shootout With Gunman; Suspect's History Emerges
Officials on Wednesday identified the two El Monte Police Department officers who were killed in a shootout with a gunman at a motel as more details emerge about the suspect's criminal history. "It is with heavy hearts that the City of El Monte and the El Monte Police Department announce the passing of Corporal Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana," a news release said, adding that both Paredes and Santana were raised in that city and "had a strong connection to the community they served." The officers were killed late Tuesday afternoon while investigating a report of a possible stabbing in the Siesta Inn motel. The suspect - who has since been identified as Justin Flores - died at the scene, authorities said. Paredes began his law enforcement career as a cadet with the police department before being sworn in as a full-time police officer in July 2000, the statement said. During his time with the agency, Paredes worked several specialized assignments before being promoted to the rank of corporal. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son. Santana started his service with the City of El Monte as a part-time public works employee. After six years of service with the Public Works Department, he transitioned to a career in law enforcement, according to the news release. Santana worked as a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy, where he served there for approximately three years. In 2021, he accepted a position as an El Monte police officer, "returning to his hometown to serve the community he grew up in."
ABC 7

Los Angeles DA George Gascón Recall Group Says It Has Collected Required Signatures To Put Matter On Ballot
The group working to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said it has collected the necessary number of signatures required to put the matter before voters. The Recall George Gascón campaign told Fox News it received over 30,000 petitions over the past few days in an effort to gather the 567,857 needed by July 6. The group said it hit the target Wednesday but is working toward collecting 650,000 signatures as some will likely be deemed invalid by the Los Angeles County officials. "Simply clearing the required threshold is not enough – we must build the necessary cushion for signatures that are inevitably invalidated," a campaign statement said. We are urging every registered voter in Los Angeles County to mail in their petition by no later than June 24 to ensure they arrive on time, or alternatively, drop them off at one of our permanent signing locations by June 30. The only thing that can stop us at this point is complacency." Fox News has reached out to the group and Gascón's campaign. The recall is the second attempt by supporters to oust Gascón, who came into office in December 2020 on a criminal justice reform platform.
FOX 11

Man Shot And Killed While Sitting In His Car In South L.A.
A man was shot and killed Tuesday night while sitting in his car in the Vermont Knolls neighborhood of South Los Angeles, authorities said. At 10:11 p.m., an individual approached the car parked near the intersection of 83rd and Figueroa streets and shot at the man inside, said Officer Annie Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers responding to the scene pronounced the man dead. The victim was identified only as a man in his 40s as county coroner officials worked to notify next of kin. Police said they do not have a description of the suspect or any suspect vehicle.
LA Times

Security Officers Facing Rising Violence In Downtown LA Demand Higher Wages, Training
Security officers, who say they’re facing increased violence while working at office buildings and other public facilities in Downtown LA, are demanding hazard pay and better training to deal with the uptick in crime. The workers, represented by SEIU United Service Workers West, rallied Wednesday at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration to voice their concerns. Most work for Allied Universal and Securitas. Workers at the rally were speaking on behalf of some 3,000 USWW security officers in LA County and nearly 17,000 statewide. They say crime has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of increased homelessness and a lack of treatment for mental illness. They say they’re also being asked to take on increasingly dangerous responsibilities. Workers say they have reported violent robberies, attacks by unhoused people who are asked to clear away from the front of buildings, and violence and hostility as they enforce mask mandates and other COVID-19 safety protocols.
LA Daily News

LAPD Pursuit In South Los Angeles Ends In Fatal Crash As Vehicle Strikes Pedestrian
A pursuit came to a tragic end Wednesday evening after a pedestrian was fatally struck by the suspect in South Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Department officers engaged the suspect in pursuit at around 12:30 a.m. on the southbound lanes of Central Avenue after learning that the vehicle she was driving was stolen. The vehicle in question was a 1987 Toyota Avalon. A brief pursuit ensued before authorities reportedly backed off and were planning to continue following along via airship. Neither the aircraft nor ground units were close enough to see the collision, police said, indicating they were about four blocks away at the time. As the suspect continued to drive, they struck a pedestrian who was believed to be crossing the street, causing the driver to veer off the road and crash into three parked vehicles on Central Avenue and 71st Street. The impact killed that person, reportedly severing their leg in the process as they were carried more than 20 yards from the spot of impact on the windshield of the stolen vehicle.
CBS 2

Police Ask For Help Finding 46-Year-Old Woman Missing Out Of Downtown LA
The Los Angeles Police Department was looking for the help of the public Wednesday finding a missing 46-year-old woman who was last seen in downtown Los Angeles. Sharleen Latrell Dobson was last seen June 7 near Union Station in the 800 block of North Alameda Street, according to LAPD. Dobson is Black, 5-feet-7 inches tall, and weighs 180 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on Sharleen's whereabouts was asked to call the LAPD Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800. Calls made during non-business hours or on weekends can be directed to 877-527-3247. Anonymous tips can be called into Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online.
CBS 2

Authorities Warn Of Rise In Pickpocketing Crimes In West Hollywood
“Beware of pickpockets.” That’s the message from law enforcement officials in West Hollywood as more and more cases of stolen wallets and phones have been reported in recent weeks. Matty Hendrickson has had his smart phone stolen twice in West Hollywood in recent months. “I had my phone in my back pocket. I was just with my friends. One moment my phone is there, then I feel someone take my phone, and I turned around and I see this guy in a hoodie,” Hendrickson said. Despite the anger and frustration, he’s one of the lucky ones. Most people don’t feel a thing and rarely get their cell phones or other valuables back. “I bump into you. You think it’s just an accident, and it’s gone,” said Sgt. Joana Warren of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “You think I just bumped into you.” Warren says WeHo has a pickpocket problem that’s getting worse. “From 2019, pre-COVID, until now, with everything reopening again, it has more than doubled,” Warren said. And the crime increase isn’t limited to just West Hollywood. Bars, clubs and restaurants up and down the Santa Monica strip are dealing with a scourge of grand theft and are warning customers to mind their belongings.
KTLA 5

Silver Alert Issued For Missing 72-Year-Old Man Last Seen In East Hollywood
A Silver Alert was issued Wednesday evening on behalf of a 72-year-old man reported missing after last being seen in East Hollywood. Celso Diaz was last seen about noon Sunday in the area of Normandie Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, near the Hollywood (101) Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Diaz is Hispanic, 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black and red plaid shirt and khaki pants, and is believed to be on foot. Anyone with information on Diaz’s whereabouts was asked to call 911. A Silver Alert is activated when an elderly, developmentally or cognitively impaired person has gone missing and is determined to be at-risk to provide immediate information to the public to aid in the swift recovery of the at-risk person.
MyNewsLA.com

Beverly Hills Man Admits To Trying To Hire Hitman To Kill Ex
A Beverly Hills man has pleaded guilty to a federal charge for attempting to hire a hitman to kill a woman he dated briefly who repeatedly tried to end their relationship. Scott Quinn Berkett, 25, appeared in federal court Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of use of interstate facilities to commit murder-for-hire, according to the United States Department of Justice. Officials say Berkett met the victim online in 2020 and the two began a brief relationship. In October 2020, the victim flew out to Los Angeles to meet Berkett but was turned off by him because of his “sexually aggressive” behavior. For several months, she tried to end the relationship but Berkett continued to contact her, the DOJ said. In April 2021, a family member of the victim learned that Berkett was still harassing her. The family member tried to inform Berkett’s father about the continued contact, but Berkett responded using his father’s phone and allegedly said, “consider this matter closed.”
KTLA 5

Man Sentenced In LA To Two Years In Prison For Internet Service Attacks
A man was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to 24 months in federal prison for running websites that allowed paying users to launch powerful distributed denial of service — or DDoS — attacks that flood targeted computers with information and prevent them from being able to access the internet. Matthew Gatrel, 33, of St. Charles, Illinois, was found guilty last year of one federal count each of conspiracy to commit unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Gatrel ran a criminal enterprise designed around launching hundreds of thousands of cyber-attacks on behalf of hundreds of customers,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He also provided infrastructure and resources for other cybercriminals to run their own businesses launching these same kinds of attacks. These attacks victimized wide swaths of American society and compromised computers around the world.”
MyNewsLA.com

2 Southern California Music Executives Arrested, Accused Of Illegal Ties To Mexican Concert Promoter
Two Southern California music executives were arrested Tuesday, June 14, on suspicion of conspiring to do business with a Guadalajara-based concert promoter with ties to Mexican drug cartels. Angel Del Villar, 41, of Huntington Beach, and Luca Scalisi, 56, of West Hollywood, are each charged with a federal count of conspiracy to transact in property of specially designated narcotics traffickers, in violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Villar is the CEO of Del Records and its subsidiary talent agency Del Entertainment. Scalisi is the chief financial officer of Del Entertainment, prosecutors said. Both made their initial court appearance in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday and were released — Villar on $100,000 bond and Scalisi on $35,000. A third defendant, Mexican national Jesus Perez Alvear, 37, is believed to still be in Mexico, prosecutors said. Alvear is a music promoter who controls Gallistica Diamante, also known as Ticket Premier, and promoted concerts for El Entertainment until March 2019, prosecutors said. Alvear and Gallistica are both considered “specially designated narcotics traffickers” under the Kingpin Act. The act prevents people in the United States from doing business with them.
Los Angeles Daily News

Dozens Of Firearms Surrendered In Oakland Gun Buyback Event
On Saturday, the Oakland Police Department successfully collected dozens of firearms at a gun buyback event. The Guns to Gardens initiative, in partnership with a number of community organizations, resulted in 131 pistols, shotguns, rifles, an AK-47 and a Thompson submachine gun, a.k.a. a “Tommy gun” surrendered, according to an OPD Facebook post. The department said one individual turned in more than 20 firearms. In exchange, more than $10,000 in gift cards were given out to those handing over the weapons. The event comes after as number of recent mass shootings, including those in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, N.Y., reignite calls for gun policy reform. On Sunday, a group of senators agreed on a bipartisan gun safety deal, following hundreds of gun violence prevention rallies that took place across the country on Saturday. The Oakland event took place at At Thy Word Ministries on International Boulevard, set-up as a drive-thru exchange. The first 50 people to turn in their firearms received a forged garden tool, and gift cards ranging from $100 to $300, according to the City of Oakland.
SF Chronicle

Hero Trooper Returns To Work After Crashing Cruiser To Stop DUI Suspect
A hero state trooper has returned to full duty after she was seriously injured on the job in March. Trooper Toni Schuck made headlines by driving into the path of an accused drunk driver to protect pedestrians in a nearby road race. Video showed the DUI suspect striking Schuck’s squad car head-on. Now, Schuck has recovered and is back at work, WTSP News reported Tuesday. Schuck, 47, has been widely hailed a hero since the crash. According to WTSP News, she has received keys to two cities, thrown out the opening pitch at a Tampa Rays game and was honored with a “Trooper Toni Schuck Day” in Manatee County, Florida. Schuck says she had a rocky recovery and is glad to be back. “It’s been a process. Bumpy in the beginning, but it’s smoothed out to the point where I can get back to full duty,” Schuck said. “I knew in my heart that I was going to fight to get back.” The accused drunk driver, 52-year-old Kristen Watts, faces multiple charges related to DUI and reckless driving causing bodily injury and damage to property.
PoliceOne

Public Safety News

COVID Hospitalizations In LA County Again Top 600
The number of Los Angeles County hospital patients infected with COVID-19 crawled above the 600 mark again Wednesday, while health officials reported nearly 5,700 new virus cases. According to state figures, there were 606 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, up from 579 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 65 were being treated in intensive care, up from 60 a day earlier. Health officials have noted that many COVID-positive patients were actually admitted to hospitals for a reason other than the virus, and often they only learned they were infected upon admission. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that 40% of current COVID-positive patients in the county are being treated specifically for COVID. The other 60% were admitted for other health reasons. She has noted, however, that all virus-positive patients require extra infection-control measures at hospitals, regardless of the reason they were admitted.
MyNewsLA.com

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