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Sep 2021
Newswatch September 24, 2021

Good Morning. It's been two months since the Parker Foundation's 1951 LAPD Squad Car was sent off for much-needed repairs, but as of August 1, 2021, the ol '51 is back home at the Elysian Park Police Academy. If you would like to come by and get your photo taken with the Foundation's LAPD vintage patrol car, click here to see details on how you can schedule a time to do that.

Law Enforcement News

Gunman In Custody After Shooting Out Windows Of Canoga Park Shake Shack: LAPD
A man was in custody after shooting out windows of a Shake Shack restaurant in Canoga Park Thursday, police said. There were about 20 people were inside the burger chain’s location at 6443 Topanga Canyon Blvd. when shots were fired around 12:10 p.m., according to an LAPD news release and Officer Mike Lopez. Following an investigation, police determined 25-year-old Sebastiano Cummings-Cruz of Canoga Park had gone into the restaurant and caused a disturbance. He was asked to leave, but opened fire after exiting, police said. A 10-year-old child was among the people in restaurant at the time of the shooting. The bullets shattered some windows, but there were no reports of any injuries, officials said. Aerial video from Sky5 showed what appeared to be bullet holes in some of the eatery’s windows, and the building was taped off for investigation. Cummings-Cruz fled the scene but was arrested a short time later on suspicion of attempted murder, LAPD said. A gun was recovered during the probe, according to police.

Day After BLM Leader Announces Lawsuit Over ‘Swatting’ Incident, She’s Targeted Again
Melina Abdullah, a leader of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles who filed a lawsuit this week alleging that the Los Angeles Police Department mishandled a “swatting” incident at her home last summer, was targeted with another false emergency call Thursday, according to LAPD officials. An unknown caller purporting to be Abdullah’s young son called police Thursday morning, falsely claimed that Abdullah had overdosed on pills and requested assistance, said Capt. Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesman. In part because of existing concerns about false calls to the home, the department dispatched a unit along with a supervisor to Abdullah’s home to check on her, Spell said. Spell said officers knocked on Abdullah’s door, but there was no answer. However, after a neighbor called Abdullah and alerted her to the police presence, the officers “were able to determine that she was not in any danger,” Spell said. The department is now launching an investigation “into the origins of the call, understanding that this has been a location of a prior swatting incident,” Spell said. Audio of the initial call to police was not immediately available Thursday.
Los Angeles Times

Three Taken Into Custody Following Short Pursuit In Hollywood
Three people were taken into custody following a short pursuit in Hollywood. Police began pursuing the suspects, who were in a black Dodge, on Western Avenue at about 6:10 p.m. after responding to reports of a man possibly armed with a gun in the area, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The Dodge fled from police at high speeds, at times driving against traffic, before crashing into another vehicle in the area of Normandie Avenue and Olympic Boulevard at about 6:15 p.m. The suspects exited the car following the crash and fled the scene on foot, but were quickly taken into custody by police. It was not immediately known if anyone was injured in the collision.

Two Plead Not Guilty To Anti-Jewish Hate Crime In Attack Outside Beverly Grove-Area Restaurant
Two men pleaded not guilty Thursday in an alleged hate crime attack outside a Beverly Grove-area restaurant in May. Samer Jayylusi, 36, of Whittier, and Xavier Pabon, 30, of Banning, were charged Tuesday with two felony counts of assault by means of force likely to cause great bodily injury. The criminal complaint includes a hate crime allegation. The two men were allegedly part of a caravan waving Palestinian flags in the 300 block of North La Cienega Boulevard on May 18, hours after a large protest in support of Palestinian rights amid violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Jayylusi and Pabon are accused of approaching two men outside a restaurant and attacking them because of their religion, according to the District Attorney's Office. Cell phone video showed a group of men exit a car and begin to attack the diners while yelling racial slurs. Mayor Eric Garcetti characterized what happened as an "organized, anti-Semitic attack." Police said one minor injury was reported. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the attack at the restaurant "appeared to spring from a roving band of vehicles that were seen flying flags within the Jewish-populated areas of Hollywood, West L.A., Mid-Wilshire, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills." He said police are still searching for two more people believed to have taken part in the restaurant attack.

Van Nuys Church Vandalized By Masked Individual, Pastor Says
A masked vandal broke eight stained-glass windows at St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church in Van Nuys, the church wrote on Facebook. The church at 17231 Sherman Way called the damage, which it says occurred at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, “a horrific act of vandalism” and noted that the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating using surveillance video captured by the church. The stained-glass damage occurred at the church’s sanctuary, though there was also vandalism done “to the sign of the neighboring church on our property,” the church said. “Immediately, of course, you feel violated,” added the Rev. Shnork Demirjian. “Why did this happen?” Demirjian said there could be a connection between the timing of this attack and Armenian Independence Day, Sept. 21. No one was injured, the church added.

Portland mayor calls for funds to rehire retired police officers amid crime spike
As shootings continue to soar in Portland and homicides have reached the highest level in more than two decades, Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday called for more money to allow police to rehire officers who have recently retired to address the bureau’s staffing shortage. Wheeler also called for a citywide expansion of Portland Street Response to reduce the number of calls police must handle. Along that effort, he said he expected to ask for a significant funding increase to allow non-emergency calls to be diverted from the 911 emergency dispatch system to an alternate line, the city’s 311 program.

FLASHBACK: Reporters Downplayed Or Dismissed Claims Of Rising Crime Stats
The New York Times reported Wednesday a 29-percent rise in murders for 2020, which marked the largest spike in the murder rate since the United States began recording it in 1960. The Times suggested "various pandemic stresses, increased distrust between the police and the public," and "increased firearm carrying," as possible factors in the increased murder rate. Although there were signs of rising crime throughout 2020, many news anchors, reporters and media pundits sought to downplay or even dismiss the notion that crime was spiking. Most recently, NBC News sought to hide the rising crime rate in their report on September 12. The article, titled "'Overall crime decreased in 2020' in the U.S., report finds," claimed that "overall crime" actually decreased compared to 2019. Charles Fain Lehman, who works on the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News that their statistics were "misleading at best" by combining various crimes ranging from theft, to assault, to murder under one number. In addition, the NBC report still acknowledged that murder and assaults were rising. NBC’s cable arm MSNBC also frequently dismissed the crime rate despite reports to the contrary. In June, MSNBC's "The Cross Connection" with Tiffany Cross hosted former Los Angeles police officer Cheryl Dorsey, who suggested that the rising crime statistics were actually being "manipulated" by police departments.
FOX News

SWAT Team Arrests Father, Son At East LA Home In Connection With 3 Cold Case Murders
A man and his father were arrested early Thursday morning at a home in East Los Angeles in connection with three separate murders that date back as far as 2014, authorities said. A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department SWAT team descended on a residence about 4:30 a.m. and took Anthony Velasquez, 31, into custody. His father, 51-year-old Manuel Velasquez, was arrested as a suspected accessory to the crimes. News video from the scene showed deputies placing a shirtless Anthony Velasquez into a patrol vehicle after he was apprehended. He was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held on $2 million bail, authorities said. Manuel Velasquez was in the process of being booked and charged. The arrests came after an $80,000 reward was offered in the case and investigators received multiple tips. The deceased victims were Jesse Avalos, 34, Eduardo Robles, 38, and Amanda "Nikki" Lopez, 27. Avalos was found shot to death on Feb. 11, 2014, at about 3:25 a.m. in the 4800 block of East Telegraph Road, sheriff's Capt. Joe Mendoza said at an August news conference. About four hours before he was killed, Avalos had received a call from an acquaintance asking him to go to the location to jump-start a vehicle, and he went there to help, Mendoza said. Avalos was found shot to death while seated in the driver's seat of his SUV. Two suspects were seen leaving the area.

Hawthorne Woman Pleads Not Guilty In 7-Year-Old Daughter’s Death
A Hawthorne woman — who is charged along with her boyfriend in her 7-year-old daughter’s death — pleaded not guilty Thursday. The girl’s mother, Ida Helen Brockman, 30, is charged with one count each of murder and child abuse resulting in death. She is due back Oct. 20 at the Airport courthouse in Los Angeles. The woman’s boyfriend, Malachi Xavier Whalen, 29, is awaiting arraignment Wednesday on one count each of murder, torture and assault on a child causing death. The girl was identified in the criminal complaint only as “Amaiya D.” Hawthorne police officers responded Sept. 9 to Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in connection with a possible child abuse/child death call, according to Deputy Grace Medrano of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Information Bureau. Investigators learned that the girl had been brought unresponsive to the hospital’s emergency room by her mother and the mother’s boyfriend, according to the sheriff’s department. Authorities said the girl had suffered multiple injuries that were inconsistent with statements made by the woman and her boyfriend.

Leader Of ‘Oxy Bandits’ Crew Sentenced To 20 Years For Armed Robbery Spree Of 15 SoCal Pharmacies
A Lynwood man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years behind bars for running a crew that committed 15 armed robberies of independent, mom-and-pop pharmacies across Southern California, with the intent of illegally selling the stolen prescription medication. Tyrome "Boobie" Lewis, 26, was found guilty in June of all eight felony charges he faced. Lewis has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In a ruling issued following a two-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt found Lewis guilty of one count each of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and two counts each of interference with commerce by robbery, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and knowingly using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Prosecutors said Lewis conspired with others to commit 15 armed robberies from May 2018 to July 2019. He selected the pharmacies to be robbed, targeting smaller pharmacies to steal oxycodone and other prescription painkillers, prosecutors said.
FOX 11

California Trio Files $2M In Fake EDD Claims To Buy Audi, New Home
A man incarcerated in California, his wife and a friend in San Leandro were part of an elaborate scheme where they stole nearly $2 million in unemployment debit cards. The trio hid money in flowerpots and picture frames and bought things such as a new Audi, all in cash, according to a federal indictment filed this month in U.S. District Court in Northern California. The allegations, filed Sept. 16, allege that Ratha Yin, 34, who is incarcerated at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County; his wife, Amanda Yin, 31, who is a nurse in Indio, Calif., and Steven Mavromatis, 26, of San Leandro, who works at Bayshore Motor Group and who was referred to as "Lil Bro" in court documents, filed fake California EDD unemployment claims in the names of other people last fall. Amanda Yin and Mavromatis were arrested on Tuesday. Yin has appeared before a magistrate judge in the Central District of California and will appear in the Northern District of California on Sept. 28. Mavromatis made his initial appearance on Wednesday and will re-appear on Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim. None of the defendants could be reached Thursday for immediate comment. To date, they have no lawyers of record.
FOX 11

State Announces Charges In Alleged Student Loan Debt Relief Scam With More Than 19,000 Victims
California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta on Tuesday announced charges in an alleged multimillion-dollar student loan debt relief scam that prosecutors say stole from more than 19,000 victims in less than three years. The alleged leader of the scam, Angela Mirabella, owned a network of debt relief businesses based in Orange County that operated call centers that promised to reduce or eliminate federal student loan debt, Bonta said. Prosecutors have accused Mirabella, as well as four call center managers and two sales agents, of stealing more than $6,130,000 from the victims, including 3,000 who lived in California. An Orange County grand jury this month indicted Mirabella, as well as codefendants Cesar Sandoval-Vilchis, Stephen Gamboa, Briana Graham, Matthew Walsh, Teresa Lovato and Paulina Pacheco, on counts including grand theft by false pretenses, unauthorized use of personal identifying information, and unauthorized computer access and fraud. Mirabella faces special allegations for money laundering totaling more than $2.5 million and aggravated white-collar crime. It was not immediately clear who is representing the defendants.
Los Angeles Times

Police: 1 Dead, 12 Wounded In Tennessee Grocery Store Shooting
A shooting at a Tennessee grocery store left one person dead and 12 others injured Thursday afternoon, and the shooter was subsequently found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the store east of Memphis, authorities said. Collierville Police Chief Dale Lane said the shooting broke out at a Kroger store in his suburban community about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Memphis. He said 13 people in all were shot and the 12 of them were taken to hospitals, some with very serious injuries. He said a police SWAT team and other officers went aisle to aisle in the store to find people who sought cover or were in hiding, removing them to safety. He said the shooter was also found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. “We found people hiding in freezers, in locked offices. They were doing what they had been trained to do: run, hide, fight," the chief said. The identities of the shooter and the victims were not immediately released.
Associated Press

Michigan Trooper Saves Hospice Patient From Burning Home
A Michigan State Police trooper rescued a hospice patient from a burning building in Alcona County. The rescue occurred when trooper Jacob Strong of the Michigan State Police Alpena Post was getting ready to end his shift at approximately 11:44 p.m. on Wednesday when he heard the call of a residential fire on E. Swede Rd in Caledonia Township. Dispatch advised a 68-year-old male hospice patient, and his wife were still inside the residence and could not get out. Strong arrived on scene to find the southeast corner of the residence fully engulfed in flames. Strong was able to make entry through the south walk-in door and eventually located the hospice patient and his wife in the southeast room. The wife was struggling to get her husband out of the hospital bed on the main floor, according to police. As the residence was beginning to fill with heavy smoke and the flames continued to spread, Strong assisted the wife and was able to get the husband out of bed to safely remove him from the burning home. Deputies from the Alcona County Sheriff’s Office arrived and helped get the husband down the front steps.

Public Safety News

City Attorney Urges LA City Council To Include Hookah In Flavored Tobacco Ban
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer Thursday urged the City Council to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco, including hookah, instead of the current draft ordinance excluding hookah from the ban. The Los Angeles City Council on June 16 directed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to ban flavored tobacco and menthol cigarette sales in the city, but exempted hookah tobacco products at existing smokers lounges. "A complete ban in the city of Los Angeles on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored hookah, has the potential to be life-saving," said Feuer. He said 3.6-million kids nationwide are vaping, using e-cigarettes, which he called a "gateway" to regular cigarettes. "Kid-friendly flavors are driving this youth vaping epidemic. Hookah also comes in a variety of sweet flavors to entice kids, and I'm calling on the City Council to include sales of flavored hookah in this proposed ban. Any exemption would not do enough to protect public health," he said.

California Plans Dramatic Push Of COVID-19 Booster Shots, Vaccinations
With millions of Californians slated to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster, the state is planning to dramatically ramp up its inoculation rate. Officials unveiled a new COVID-19 Vaccine Action Plan on Thursday — just hours before the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said a third Pfizer-BioNTech dose should be given to those 65 and older, residents in long-term care settings, and those age 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions at least six months after receiving their initial series of vaccinations. The CDC also said younger adults with underlying medical conditions may get a booster, as well as adults age 18 to 64 at increased risk for exposure to the coronavirus because of occupational or institutional settings. The CDC recommendations, issued after midnight Friday morning Eastern time, only apply to people who received the Pfizer vaccine. “We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available,” Walensky said in a statement.

Local Government News

Judge's Ruling To Clean Up Skid Row Overturned By 9th Circuit
A federal appeals court overturned a lower court's order that required the city and county of Los Angeles to find housing for 4,600 Skid Row residents by October. The three-member appellate panel from the 9th Circuit unanimously found that U.S. District Court Judge David Carter lacked evidence for his theory that racism was the root cause of the area’s homelessness problem, which was the basis for his injunction. The higher court further noted the plaintiffs had not even made the racism argument. The lawsuit was filed by the LA Alliance for Human Rights, which claimed the city and county created an untenable homeless situation. Carter has taken an active role in the issue, visiting Skid Row residents and even holding court hearings in adjacent parking lots. In 2018, Carter settled a massive homelessness lawsuit between the County of Orange, several cities, and homeless rights advocates. The result cleared a nine-mile riverbed encampment and the Santa Ana Civic Center of more than 1,000 homeless.
Yahoo! News



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