Southern California -- this just in

Category: UCLA/USC

Suspects sought in anti-gay attack near UCLA

UCLA campus police have released a sketch of a man they say was involved in an anti-gay hate crime against a student.

A male student was walking south in the 400 block of Gayley Avenue, near Veteran Avenue, about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 18, when two men got out of a dark-colored, four-door sedan and approached the victim.

One of the men threatened him with a knife and made anti-gay slurs, KTLA-TV reported. The two suspects then fled in the vehicle heading south on Gayley. The student suffered scratches and bruises, but declined treatment.

One of the suspects is described as a white male about 26 or 27 years old, 5-feet-9 and 160 to 170 pounds. He has brown eyes and a shaved head and was wearing jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt.

The second suspect is described as Latino, also about 26 or 27 years old. He is about 6-feet-4 and 300 pounds. He has long, black hair that was slicked back and was wearing baggy clothing.

The student told police he didn't know either of the men, but he thought they might have been able to guess his sexual orientation based on how he looked and acted.

Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to call the UCLA Police Department at (310) 825-1491.


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Junior Seau's family sues NFL over his brain injuries

PHOTOS: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

The family of football star Junior Seau is suing the National Football League, asserting that he committed suicide because of brain injuries he suffered during his career.

"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior," the family said in a statement given to the Associated Press. "But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."

Seau commited suicide in May 2012 at his home in Oceanside. An examination of his brain by the National Institutes of Health found that he was suffering from a degenerative brain disease.

PHOTOS: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

More than 2,000 former players and their survivors are suing the NFL over head injuries, raising allegations similar to those in the Seau family lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in San Diego County Superior Court.

The NIH study found that Seau had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive disease linked to mood swings, depression, irritability, insomnia and, in later stages, dementia.

Seau, 43, who retired in 2009, killed himself with a gunshot without leaving a note. His family and friends have struggled to explain his actions.

An initial autopsy in San Diego found no brain damage due to his career as a bruising linebacker for Oceanside High, USC and later several NFL teams, most notably the San Diego Chargers. But the family asked for a more in-depth examination to be performed by the National Institutes of Health.

Plaintiffs in the Seau suit are his ex-wife, Gina, his children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of his estate.

The lawsuit allegedly criticizes NFL Films for promoting the violent nature of the sport. The Seaus are also suing Riddell Inc., the company that manufactures helmets used in the NFL.


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Photo: Junior Seau. Credit: Associated Press

UCLA police search for suspects in alleged hate crime

Police are searching for two men in their mid-20s who allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs and threatened a UCLA student with a knife near the campus early Friday morning, authorities said.

The victim was walking south in the 400 block of Gayley Avenue when a dark-colored four-door sedan pulled up in front of the victim about 1:30 a.m., according to a statement by the UCLA Police Department.

The two suspects exited the vehicle, approached the victim, threatened the individual with a knife and shouted anti-gay slurs, according to the statement.

The two suspects then fled south on Gayley.

One suspect is described as a white male who is about 5-foot-9 and weighs between 160 and 170 pounds. Authorities believe he is between the ages of 26 and 27, has a shaved head and was wearing a grey hoodie and blue jeans at the time of the incident.

The other suspect was described as a male Latino, between 26 and 27 years old, weighs about 300 pounds and has long “slicked-back” hair. Authorities believe he was wearing baggy clothing.

The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Anyone with information is asked to call the UCLA Police Department at (310) 825-1491.


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Police release sketch of man in UCLA attempted sexual assault

University police have released a composite sketch of a man suspected in an attempted sexual assault on the UCLA campus.

The suspect is described as a light-skinned white male with short, dark hair believed to be between 30 and 35 years old, thin and 5-feet-10 to 6-feet tall, police said.

At the time of the Jan. 7 incident, he was thought to be wearing a gray, hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans.

The incident occurred about 1:15 a.m. when a woman was walking between Parking Structure 9 and the Engineering 4 building, according to police. The victim was walking east when the suspect approached her from behind, grabbed her and threatened her, police said.

She broke free and the suspect fled on foot.

Anyone with information may call UCLA police at (310) 794-5824. Anonymous tips can be made at (310) 794-5824.


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USC’s new security measures rile some campus neighbors

Guards check a student's ID at an entry point to USC on Jefferson Boulevard on Monday night. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

USC rolled out heightened security measures this week that restrict late-night guests and require identification checks for all visitors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. But some campus neighbors said the changes go too far and make them feel unwelcome.

Dontez Sharpley approached the entryway to USC at Jefferson Boulevard and Trousdale Parkway late at night, expecting to make his usual trek through the campus to catch a bus home after a shift at the Starbucks across the street.

But as he walked onto campus, he was stopped by a security guard, who told him he was not allowed to pass through the university unless he was a registered guest. Exasperated, Sharpley, 22, ran along the perimeter before being stopped by another guard at another checkpoint.

"This is ridiculous," he told this guard. "People getting off of work, trying to go through there and you're telling them they can't?"

The changes come after two violent incidents last year rocked USC and prompted new calls for tighter security: The Halloween shooting on campus that left four people wounded, and a botched robbery in which two graduate students from China were killed less than a mile from campus.

Late-night visitors must now be preregistered online by a USC student, faculty or staff member. Outside promoters also are banned from working at USC social events on campus and Fraternity Row.

Until now, people roamed freely at USC, with many taking the safe, well-lit shortcut through campus. But with the new initiatives, USC closes most of its entrances after 9 p.m., blocking all but eight entryways with iron fences and temporary gates.

USC senior Reggie Mccollumm did a double take Monday night when he walked past the red metal gates.

"It looks like a prison," he said, laughing. "This is a joke. I'm sorry, this is awful. Just look at it."

It's a difficult balancing act, said Anne Glavin, president of the International Assn. of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

"I think USC is responding this way because they have to," Glavin said. "They have to look at what their first priority is, and that's their students, faculty and staff."


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Photo: Guards check a student's ID at an entry point to USC on Jefferson Boulevard on Monday night. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

USC security measures limiting late-night access take effect

Heightened security measures at USC — created after a Halloween shooting on campus that left four people wounded — will go into effect Monday, limiting late-night access to the university.

Between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., the number of campus entrance points will be reduced and limited to students, faculty, staff and their guests. Anyone arriving on campus during that time will be asked to show identification to security guards stationed at the entrance points.

Late-night guests must also be registered online by a student, faculty or staff member.

USC President C.L. Max Nikias explained the new measures to The Times in November, calling them "a small inconvenience given how strongly I feel about the safety and security of the campus." He said USC will remain a campus "that welcomes all our neighbors" for athletics, entertainment, education and community programs."

No students were injured in the Oct. 31, 2012, shooting, which occurred outside a Halloween party promoted by a non-USC firm that invited people from across the city. Student witnesses described a chaotic scene after shots rang out near the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, located in the heart of campus.

Continue reading »

Pasadena councilman targeted for recall over NFL-Rose Bowl vote

Rose bowl

A Pasadena councilman is facing a recall campaign over his support for an ordinance that cleared the way for negotiations to bring professional football to the Rose Bowl.

Recall proponents on Thursday filed a notice of intent to circulate a petition to recall Councilman Steve Madison from office, said City Clerk Mark Jomsky. Under state election code, Madison has until Thursday to file a statement on why he should not be recalled for inclusion on the recall petitions.

City Council members voted Nov. 19 to increase the number of large events that can be held annually at the Rose Bowl, which already is used for UCLA home football games.

The move, supported by Madison, allows city officials to enter negotiations with the NFL that could bring a pro team to the Rose Bowl for up to five years while a permanent stadium is constructed in downtown Los Angeles.

Many homeowners near the stadium fear NFL games at the Rose Bowl would result in traffic jams, noise and environmental damage, while also attracting unruly fans at the expense of recreational users in the surrounding Arroyo Seco.

A coalition of four neighborhood groups filed a lawsuit on Jan. 3 seeking to overturn the council’s decision, claiming a related environmental study violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

A draft of the petition filed by resident Michael Vogler claims Madison "no longer represents the interests of his constituents" and so he "must be removed from office." The document also accuses Madison of “willfully placing his interests above the interests of his constituents.”

Continue reading »

College admission may get easier as ranks of high school graduates drop

Santa Monica College

High school graduates will face less competition for college admission in the next decade due to a demographic decline in their ranks, according to a report on education enrollment trends released Wednesday.

At the same time, Latinos and Asian Americans will constitute larger shares of high school populations and the numbers of white and black students will drop.

“Over the last two decades, colleges and universities have been able to count on an annually growing number of students graduating from the nation’s high schools. But it appears that period of abundance will soon be history,” said the study, Knocking at the College Door, issued by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Postsecondary campuses will have to recruit more heavily, possibly reaching beyond typical geographic territories and turning to older adults and other nontraditional populations, the report said.

The number of high school graduates increased nationally for a decade, peaking at 3.4 million in 2010-11, but then lower birth rates and less immigration contributed to a decline. Estimates show 3.21 million graduates are expected in 2013-2014, according to the report. Then it projects small ups and downs until 2023-24, when high school graduates will reach 3.4 million again.

The effect will be uneven across the country. The Northeast and Midwest will experience the largest declines, with smaller ones in the West and some growth in the South, particularly in Texas and Georgia, the study found.

In California, the ranks of high school graduates peaked two years ago at 430,292 and is expected to be 408,467 in 2012-13. Possibly easing enrollment pressures at state colleges and universities, a general decline will follow to a low of 384,600 projected in 2019-2020. The state will then see some modest growth for the next five years but the ranks of its new high school graduates will remain well below the peak.

The study anticipates that 45% of nation’s public high school students will be non-white by 2019-20, compared to 38% in 2009. In that period, the annual numbers of Latino graduates from public high schools will rise 41% and Asian-Pacific Islanders will be up 30% while whites decline 12% and blacks 9%, according to the study.

Colleges and universities should review their recruitment, financial aid and student support policies for a more ethnically diverse future, the report suggested. Higher education must “address the fact that systems, policies and practices designed for an earlier, more racially/ethnically homogenous era will not suffice.”


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Photo: Students wait in line for financial aid at Santa Monica College campus in September. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Black lawmakers ask state to reject parts of Coliseum-USC deal

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The California Legislative Black Caucus voiced strong opposition over parts of a deal that would allow USC to run the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Letter: Black caucus opposes parts of USC-Coliseum dealThe lawmakers said they support the idea of USC managing the Coliseum, where the school's football team plays, But object to the inclusion of nearby parking lots they say should be turned into parks in the South Los Angeles neighborhood. USC demanded the parking lots as part of the management agreement.

"Your role is not to be boosters for the USC football program," said the letter from the caucus to Robert Stein, chairman of the California Science Center board, which owns the parking lots and the land on which the Coliseum and several museums sit, collectively known as Exposition Park.

DOCUMENT: Read the black caucus' letter

"This proposal is an affront .... Giving up control of the parking lots virtually gives away control of the park, which is totally unacceptable," the letter said.

Newly elected Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) is a caucus member whose district includes the Coliseum. He noted that surrendering the parking lots would break a two-decade-old promise made by the state to eventually convert unused lots surrounding the Coliseum complex into green space for a neighborhood that sorely lacks parks.

"When the entire Legislative Black Caucus looks at the parking lots, we see green space. We see families. We see picnics. We see soccer fields," said Jones-Sawyer, formerly Los Angeles City Hall's top expert on real estate issues.

DOCUMENT: Read the 1992 master plan calling for more parks at Exposition Park

The group also opposes an element of the deal that would allow USC to also control the aging Sports Arena, part of the Coliseum property that could be razed for a potentially lucrative soccer stadium. The deal envisions the university taking over the sports venues for up to 99 years.

Exposition Park Master Plan"As drafted, it appears that the board would give up all oversight of future plans if a soccer stadium is to be built. Might that soccer stadium also include a shopping mall, student housing, USC offices?" the caucus wrote.

The caucus rejected an assertion written into the deal that if the Coliseum Commission, which currently governs the stadium complex, goes out of business, the state will be on the hook for $70 million in upgrades. The commission promised to make the improvements in a lease signed with USC in 2008. The complex is operated jointly by the state, county and city.

FULL COVERAGE: Coliseum under scrutiny

State Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood), vice chair of the caucus, said the Coliseum's governing charter protects the state from the stadium's debts. "I really doubt that we're going to lay off teachers and take services away from poor people so that we can fund a football stadium for a private school," he said.

Continue reading »

Junior Seau had brain disease at time of suicide, tests show

Advanced tests done at the National Institutes of Health on the brain of football star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in May, showed he had signs of a degenerative brain disease, the Associated Press reported.

The examination of Seau's brain showed "abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)," the kind of injury associated with repetitive head injuries, the AP said.

An initial autopsy on Seau performed by the San Diego County medical examiner found no apparent damage to his brain from years of football. But the Seau family, searching for a reason the 43-year-old Seau took his life, asked for a more in-depth examination by the NIH.

PHOTOS: Junior Seau | 1969 - 2012

Seau killed himself May 2 in his beachfront home in Oceanside with a gunshot to the chest. He left no note and his live-in girlfriend, who was at the gym at the time, told investigators he had given no indication that he was contemplating suicide.

The issue of brain injuries among football players has become controversial in recent years, with tests showing that two other NFL stars who committed suicide, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, had CTE.

Seau was a star linebacker at Oceanside High, USC, the San Diego Chargers and other NFL teams. His death shocked his many fans and led to an unprecedented public show of grief.

The AP quoted Seau's ex-wife, Gina, and his 23-year-old son, Tyler, as saying Seau suffered from mood swings, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

"He emotionally detached himself and would kind of 'go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that, it started to progressively get worse."


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