Southern California -- this just in

Category: LAPD

Pickup truck hits 5 pedestrians on downtown sidewalk, killing one

Several pedestrians were recuperating Monday and another was dead after being hit by a truck that then crashed into a downtown Los Angeles restaurant.

The pickup was heading south on Broadway and had just crossed 4th Street when it ran into five pedestrians who were standing on the sidewalk. One of the pedestrians, a 52-year-old woman, died at the scene.

The other four victims, all between 41 and 72 years old, were taken to local hospitals in serious condition, said Officer Alex Martinez. Two others also suffered minor injuries.

The Chevrolet Avalanche then crashed through a window at Casa India Restaurant at 348 S. Broadway. The structural integrity of the building was not compromised, police said.

It was not immediately clear whether the driver was injured in the crash or was arrested. Police from the Central Community Police Station and Central Traffic Division were investigating.


Two men lose legs in downtown strip club fight

San Diego man mourned after sailboat-race death

Lion attack: Visitors return to cat sanctuary where intern died

-- Joseph Serna

Photo: Prayer candles stand at the site where a woman waiting for a bus was killed and several other pedestrians hurt after a truck crashed into a downtown Los Angeles restaurant on Broadway Street  just north of 4th Street. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Truck crashes into downtown building, killing 1, injuring others [Updated]

A pickup truck crashed into a downtown Los Angeles storefront Sunday, killing one person and injuring several others, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The vehicle struck the building near Broadway and 4th streets at about 2 p.m., LAFD spokesman Erik Scott said. No other information was known about the victims.

[Updated at 3:10 p.m.: A 52-year-old woman was killed and four victims were transported to hospitals in serious condition, according to Scott. Two other victims were also transported but suffered minor injuries. All of the victims were ages 30-70. The truck went partially through a business window at 348 S. Broadway, the address of Casa India Restaurant, whose sign said it sells Mexican and Salvadorean food. The structural integrity of the building was not compromised, Scott said.]

“Most of these accidents start off with a few patients and end up growing so we just have to wait and see and let everyone do their job,” Scott said.

Los Angeles police from the Central Community Police Station and the Central Traffic Division responded to the incident.


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Marijuana worth $1 million found on beach near Vandenberg AFB

-- Corina Knoll

Car rams 2 men outside strip club, severing their legs, police say

A 40-year-old man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of attempted murder after he allegedly drove his vehicle into two men outside a downtown Los Angeles strip club, severing their legs, authorities said.

Terrence Conrad Meeks of Paramount was in the parking lot of Sam’s Hofbrau on Olympic Boulevard near McGarry Street about 1:30 a.m. when he rammed his car into the victims, ages 24 and 57, and pinned them against another vehicle, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Paul Sanfillippo and Officer Alex Martinez said.

One victim had both legs severed near the knee, while the other had one leg severed, Sanfillippo said. It was not clear whether the men required additional amputations from medical personnel. “My understanding from the officers at the scene is the vehicle had severed the legs,” Sanfillippo said.

The victims were taken to a hospital and were listed in stable condition, Martinez said. No other information about them was released.

Meeks is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail. 


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Marijuana worth $1 million found on beach near Vandenberg AFB

-- Corina Knoll

'Onion Field' police officer honored with Hollywood Freeway signs

Onion field

Signs honoring LAPD Officer Ian Campbell, whose slaying by kidnappers was chronicled in the book and movie "The Onion Field," were placed alongside the Hollywood Freeway this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous case.

The signs were placed on both sides of the Gower Street overpass, a short distance from where Campbell and his partner Karl Hettinger were kidnapped.

On March 10, 1963,  Gregory Ulas Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith, both ex-convicts, kidnapped Campbell and  Hettinger at gunpoint and drove them to a remote spot between two onion fields in Kern County. There, Campbell, 31, was fatally shot, while Hettinger managed to escape and summon help.

The incident was made famous in Joseph Wambaugh’s book, “The Onion Field,” and the subsequent movie of the same name starring actor James Woods.

A replica of the Campbell sign was to be unveiled Saturday at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Police Museum. Wambaugh and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, as well as the Campbell and Hettinger families, were expected to attend.

Powell and Smith were sentenced to death for the kidnappings and murder, but both sentences were eventually commuted to life.

Smith, who was released from prison in 1982, died six years ago in a Los Angeles jail, where he was serving time for a parole violation. Powell died in state prison in August.

Hettinger's decision to surrender his pistol to the kidnappers, who were holding Campbell at gunpoint, haunted him for the rest of his life. He died in 1994. LAPD officers are now instructed never to give up their weapons under any circumstances.

Last year, city officials dedicated the intersection of Gower Street and Carlos Avenue, the site of the kidnappings, to Campbell.


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Marijuana worth $1 million found on beach near Vandenberg AFB

--  Cindy Chang

Photo: Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, left, presents a commemorative plaque to Valerie Campbell-Moniz, right, at the dedication of a Hollywood intersection in honor of her father, LAPD Officer Ian Campbell, in August. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Third person dies following armed standoff in Watts

Watts barricade
A woman shot by a man who opened fire on police officers in Watts and then killed himself, has died at a hospital, police said.

Neither the victim nor the shooter has been identified.

Police called to a house at Grape and 115th streets just before 3 a.m. Friday found a man’s body in a truck. He had apparently been shot to death. Another man began shooting at the officers, who fired back, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The man retreated inside the house. About two hours later, a SWAT team entered and found the woman critically injured. The man was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Police said earlier that the woman was his wife but later said they were uncertain of the relationship between the two.

Three children, ages 1, 3 and 8, were in the home during the incident and were unharmed.


S.F. bicyclist to be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter

L.A. County sheriff's deputy charged with beating girlfriend

Lion attack: Woman's wounds a 'merciful way to go,' coroner says

-- Cindy Chang

Photo: Los Angeles Police Department investigators at a home on the 11500 block of South Grape Street in Watts, where a barricaded gunman fired shots at officers Friday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times.

Armed standoff in Watts leaves 2 dead, 1 critically wounded

A man opened fire on police officers in Watts early Friday morning before barricading himself in his house, shooting his wife and killing himself, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Another man was found shot dead in a truck outside the home at Grape and 115th streets.

When police officers responded to a call of shots fired just before 3 a.m., they found the victim in the truck. A man standing outside the house began shooting at the officers, who returned fire, said police spokesman officer Bruce Borihanh.

The man, who has not been identified, retreated inside the home. Around 5 a.m., a SWAT team entered and found the man’s wife critically injured. The man was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said.

Three children, ages 1, 3 and 8, were in the home during the incident and were in police custody until family members could be located, Borihanh said.


Grapevine on Interstate 5 closed due to snow, ice

Scattered showers, thunderstorms expected across Southland

Lion attack: Cat 'escaped' into larger cage where intern killed

-- Cindy Chang

Photo: Scene in Watts, where a man opened fire on police officers early Friday morning before barricading himself in his house, reportedly shooting his wife and killing himself. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa expects better economy to halve budget gap

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Two days after voters rejected a proposal to increase the city’s sales tax to address a budget crisis, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said stronger revenues and an improving economy could cut this year’s financial gap by more than half.

Villaraigosa, who endorsed the plan to take the sales tax from 9% to 9.5%, said Thursday that a brighter financial outlook could take a looming deficit from $216 million to less than $100 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“The economy’s getting better,” he said. “So I don’t expect that we’re going to have draconian cuts.”

Voters rejected Proposition A by 55%, according to unofficial results. City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget official, responded to that vote by announcing that he would offer a menu of potential budget cuts within a few days. Santana said the size of the police force and funding for street repairs should be "back on the table" for discussion.

Villaraigosa will present his final budget next month. His analysis Thursday was similar to one provided last month by his onetime budget advisor, former Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo. Szabo, then running for City Council, said the city's budget shortfall was $100 million lower than the figure being used publicly by proponents of Proposition A.

Continue reading »

Christopher Dorner: Camp ranger files claim for $1.2-million reward

A camp ranger carjacked by Christopher Dorner and who called 911 is seeking the entire $1.2-million reward offered for the now-deceased ex-L.A. police officer who killed four people before taking his own life in a Big Bear area cabin.

Rick Heltebrake, through a law firm, has filed a claim to collect the reward offered by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and funded by various entities. It was not long after Heltebrake called 911 that San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies surrounded the cabin where Dorner was hiding Feb. 12 and where he shot himself.

Heltebrake, a full-time ranger at Boy Scouts-owned Camp Tahquitz, said in the claim for the reward that he was driving on Glass Road when a man jumped out of a snow bank and pointed a firearm at him.

"Mr. Heltebrake immediately recognized this man as Christopher Dorner," wrote attorney Allen L. Thomas in the Feb. 19 reward claim.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Heltebrake says Dorner ordered him out of the truck and used it to continue fleeing law enforcement. Dorner left Heltebrake behind with his dog. The camp ranger started to walk up Glass Road but after 10 to 15 seconds, cut into the forest with the intention of going to Highway 38.

"Once off the road, Mr. Heltebrake used his cellular telephone to contact San Bernardino Deputy Sheriff Paul Franklin to report the incident and the location of Mr. Dorner," his attorney wrote.

Heltebrake told the deputy how his truck had been stolen at gunpoint by Dorner and gave its location. Dorner turned around on Glass Road and ended up heading downhill to Seven Oaks resort, where he drove the truck into a gully and fled to the nearby cabin. There, he fatally shot a deputy before being surrounded and taking his own life.

Continue reading »

L.A. Votes: Dismal turnout, mayoral runoff, and failed sales tax

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

After months of buildup and millions of dollars spent on a blizzard of television ads and mailers, Los Angeles voters went to the polls Tuesday and selected Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel to advance to a mayoral runoff. The long-time City Hall hands don’t have any plans to let up the day after the primary. They will be busy on the campaign trail on Wednesday, with Greuel expected to pick up the endorsement of another union representing city workers.

Rivals Jan Perry and Kevin James did not offer their concessions Tuesday night. James, who has never held elected office, received a hair more support than Perry, a three-term  Los Angeles councilwoman, in the final tally. A key question going forward will be whether they endorse Garcetti or Greuel, because their supporters could propel one of the finalists to victory.

Turnout in the city races was dismal at 16% in a contested mayoral primary. That’s lower than four years ago, when an incumbent was running for reelection. Political experts have speculated that the distinct lack of enthusiasm may have been caused by voter fatigue after a bruising and long presidential contest, coupled with a lack of excitement about the mayoral field. 

RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

The voters who turned out overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent to one of the highest in the state. While all the major mayoral candidates opposed the measure, its failure creates a new headache for the next mayor of the city, which will face budget deficits projected at $216 million a year and more.

The city school board races saw an inordinate amount of outside spending, with two camps pouring millions of dollars into the contests. One side is funded by supporters of the policies advocated by L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa;  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote a $1 million check for that camp. The other side has the support of teachers unions. The result is a mixed bag for both sides, with board president Monica Garcia, a Deasy supporter, and Steve Zimmer, a union-backed candidate, both winning reelection.

Sacramento veterans lead in City Council races, and the city attorney and controller are also headed for a runoff.

INTERACTIVE MAP: How your neighborhood voted

Vote-counting took hours, but the greatest drama of the day took place in the morning. A morning shooting occurred outside a polling place in Watts, injuring a poll worker and halting voting for 30 minutes. The 35-year-old victim’s injuries were not life threatening. Police described the incident as a possible “love triangle” and are seeking a suspect.

Columnist Steve Lopez checked in on Election Day with the voters he has been in periodic touch with since January. They voted, despite their frustration with the field and with City Hall. “No one is turning cartwheels,” Lopez wrote.

[For the Record, 9:56 a.m. March 6: An earlier version of this online post gave the wrong name for  L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy.]


Steve Lopez: Switch local elections to national cycle?

Suspect sought in polling place 'love triangle' shooting

L.A. mayor's race: SEIU, a key city union, endorses Wendy Greuel

-- Seema Mehta

Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema 

Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel speak to supporters during election night gatherings. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Polling place shooting sparked by 'love triangle,' LAPD says

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

Los Angeles police on Tuesday night were still seeking a gunman suspected of opening fire in an attack at a polling place that left a worker wounded.

Authorities told The Times on Tuesday night that they had identified a suspect and were confident that he would be arrested. They described the shooting as a "love triangle" turned violent. 

The shooting at 92nd Street Elementary School in Watts followed an argument Tuesday morning outside the campus auditorium, where the polling place was located, police said.

LIVE RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

The shooter fled the scene and the wounded 35-year-old poll worker ran inside the auditorium. The victim was taken to a local hospital and treated for what police described as wounds that were not life-threatening.

The violence forced authorities to lock the school down briefly and close the polling place for about 30 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Officials brought a mobile polling place to the scene. Inside the auditorium, a worker in a white suit with a mask and gloves cleaned blood from the floor. A woman was questioned by investigators, but it was unclear what role, if any, she might have had in the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call (877) 527-3247.


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City Hall not a 'mess' despite what ads contend, Villaraigosa says

Woman held in connection with polling place shooting, LAPD says

--Andrew Blankstein (twitter.com/anblanx) and Robert J. Lopez (twitter.com/LAJourno)

Photo: Worker cleans blood from the floor at a polling station in a Watts. Credit: Christina House / For The Times


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