Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch
LA Police Protective League


Los Angeles
Police Protective League
the union that represents the
rank and file LAPD officers

  Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch

Daily News Digest
from LA Police Protective League

April 13, 2020
Law Enforcement News

Pennsylvania Chief Dies From COVID-19 Complications
A second Beaver County community lost one of its leaders this weekend. Ambridge Police Chief Mark Romutis died Sunday evening from complications related to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. "Chief Mark Romutis was a very good and kind man," Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier said. "He was a strong leader who provided stability and moral guidance to the borough of Ambridge." This was Romutis' second term as police chief for the borough. He also served as police chief in Ellwood City for more than four years and was working as a deputy under Sheriff Tony Guy when he was tapped to become Ambridge's chief again in August 2018. Guy said Romutis was a good friend and a great police officer.

DC Police Sergeant Dies After On-Duty Medical Emergency
A Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department sergeant has died unexpectedly following a medical emergency while on duty, according to authorities. On Monday evening, there was a police presence at George Washington Hospital to honor the passing of 23-year veteran Sgt. Mark Eckenrode. The D.C. Police Union tweeted saying while this loss was completely unexpected, it is not believed to be COVID-19 related. “Our hearts are heavy this evening as we mourn the loss of a beloved husband, father, friend and MPD member. We grieve with the officers family but also find strength knowing he made a positive impact on others," said DC Police Chief Peter Newsham. Eckenrode leaves behind a wife and three children.

Operation Blue Heart: LAPD Members Volunteer To Run Errands For At-Risk Residents
As the stay at home order has been extended, people who are most at risk of contracting coronavirus are running low on options when it comes to running essential errands. Members of the LAPD are volunteering their time to help these people in need under Operation Blue Heart. It was started by Captain Shannon Paulson of the LAPD Mid Wilshire division. She asked members of the LAPD to pitch in and volunteer their time to help people who are most at risk by doing things like picking up medicine, taking a dog for a walk, or picking up and delivering groceries. “We have the community that we’re sworn to serve, facing an aggressor that we can’t see — that we can’t protect against. I think a lot of my officers found that exceptionally frustrating,” Paulson said. That’s why she put out a call for LAPD volunteers. On their time off, they run any errands that people most at risk may need. “It makes me feel good. It reiterates the reason I came on this job is to help people,” Sgt. James Mankey said about Operation Blue Heart. Mankey made a stop at Sprouts for Operation Blue Heart, filling up his grocery cart with all the food on the list from a couple in need. Then he loaded up his car and dropped it off at Matthew Tallmer’s home. “I’m diabetic. So I don’t want to go out unless I absolutely have to, and I read about this in the paper and this is a lifeline for people who really can’t go out,” Tallmer said.

Man Shot, Drives To Police Station, Dies At Hospital
A man who was shot and wounded outside a liquor store in the Florence area of Los Angeles drove himself to a nearby police station, was taken to a hospital by paramedics and later died, authorities said Monday. The shooting occurred about 10:50 p.m. Sunday at 7217 South Broadway, according to Officer F. Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Operations Center. The man, about 55 years old, “was standing in the area when he realized he’d been shot,” Gonzalez said. The victim drove himself to the nearby 77th Street police station and Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics were summoned to take him to a hospital, Gonzalez said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, the officer said. The victim was unable to provide police with any suspect information, he said. Homicide detectives were left to process evidence at the shooting scene and the police station and look for surveillance video, Gonzalez said.

Man In His 30s Fatally Shot In Unincorporated Area Of LA County
Authorities on Saturday were investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a man in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles. Deputies responded to Wilmington Avenue and 65th Street on Friday, just after 10 p.m., following a call of gunshots being heard. When they arrived, they located a victim who had been shot several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was in his 30s. No further details were immediately available. The incident does not appear to be gang related. An investigation is underway.

21-Year-Old With Asperger Syndrome Missing For 3 Weeks
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the public’s help in locating an at-risk missing person with Asperger syndrome who was last seen three weeks ago. 21-year-old Dante “Anastacia” Elder was last seen on March 22 at about 2 a.m., according to authorities. Elder, who frequents the West Hollywood area, is described as white with blue eyes and brown hair, 5’10” and 220 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to contact 911, the Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

Woman Killed, Struck By Vehicle On 118 Freeway After Allegedly Assaulting Uber Driver
An Uber passenger was killed Saturday morning when she walked into the path of oncoming traffic on the eastbound Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway in Mission Hills after she allegedly assaulted the driver and was physically removed from the vehicle. Officers received a call about a pedestrian sitting in the No. 3 lane of the freeway at 12:30 a.m. and responded to a location just east of Sepulveda Boulevard at 12:45 a.m. and were told the pedestrian had been struck by a vehicle and died at the scene, according to the California Highway Patrol. A preliminary investigation determined the woman was a passenger in a Honda Accord when she began assaulting the Uber driver, causing small cuts and breaking the driver's glasses as he drove the woman home, the CHP said. The Uber driver pulled to the right shoulder of the freeway and exited the vehicle to try to remove the woman from the car when the woman jumped over the center console and into the driver's seat and attempted to drive away.

On Roads Emptied By Coronavirus Pandemic, Some Southern California Drivers Floor It – And Collect Tickets
The suddenly wide-open lanes on Southern California’s roadways are an unexpected gift to those venturing out for essentials in the midst of the pandemic, a headache for officers tasked with curbing speeders and a challenge to city engineers who oversee the crucial flow of traffic on local streets. As the number of overall drivers dropped, the average speed the remaining vehicles are traveling on some local surface streets has increased, along with the number of motorists caught hitting 100 mph-plus speeds on freeways, statistics show. Meanwhile, with daily commuters no longer clogging local streets, engineers are adjusting traffic lights to address new patterns. “There is no traffic and people see the freeway is wide open,” said Tino Olivera, an officer in the CHP’s Santa Ana office. “We are talking about speeds of 90 plus.” Compared to the previous March, The number of speeding tickets handed to drivers going 100 mph-plus on freeways statewide jumped by nearly 42% in March compared to March 2019. according to the CHP. At the same time, the overall number of speeding citations fell by nearly 18%, the CHP said.

Man Charged With Trafficking Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Drugs Via Tunnel From Mexico
Federal authorities have charged a man known to have lived in Chula Vista with trafficking millions of dollars in illegal drugs through a tunnel that stretched from Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa. Rogelio Flores Guzman, 54, a Mexican national with legal residency in the U.S., was charged Friday with trafficking in fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Flores, who was also known to have lived in Las Vegas and Victorville, was taken into custody Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport as he was boarding a plane to Guadalajara, Mexico. He was arraigned Friday afternoon in federal court via live video because of COVID-19 precautions. The judge ordered him detained without bond after the government argued that he was a flight risk. “Cross-border tunnels always spark fascination, but in reality they are a very dangerous means for major drug dealers to move large quantities of narcotics with impunity until we intervene,” said U.S. Atty. Robert Brewer.

FBI Discovers Promised Stockpile Of 39 Million Masks Was A Scam
 A major California labor union that claimed to have discovered a stockpile of 39 million masks for health care workers fighting the coronavirus was duped in an elaborate scam uncovered by FBI investigators, according to a newspaper report Sunday. Investigators stumbled onto the scheme while looking into whether they could intercept the masks for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Defense Production Act, the U.S. attorney’s office said Friday. The federal government has been quietly seizing supplies across the country as the outbreak spreads. But in this case, there was no warehouse, and there were no masks to seize, the Los Angeles Times reported. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady told the Times that investigators tracked the tip back to a Pittsburgh businessman, who said he had been working with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West to secure millions of masks. The businessman had been using WhatsApp to connect with a broker in Australia and a supplier in Kuwait, who are both now the target of a federal investigation, Brady said.

The Coronavirus Has Gun Sales Soaring. His Fear Is Selling To The Wrong Person.
The line outside the door at Central Texas Gun Works on March 12 took owner Michael Cargill completely by surprise. The day before, business had been flowing as usual: a steady stream of two or three customers at a time stopping in to the small Austin store to browse, buy, or sign up for gun licensing and safety classes. But as the coronavirus threat grew and leaders across the country began pondering stay-at-home orders, that stream of buyers turned into a flood. Many of the new customers seemed hurried and tense. Typically, said Cargill, customers have done some research before they visit, and have a sense of what kind of gun they want to buy. Now some said they would take anything that could protect them. “That scared the hell out of me,” Cargill said. Since long before he opened his gun shop in 2011, Cargill, 51, has been an advocate for gun safety and education. His interest in firearms began during a stint in the U.S. Army, where he was an expert marksman, charged with securing and maintaining his unit’s weapons. 

Public Safety News

Body Found Inside Vacant Boyle Heights Building Following Fire
Firefighters discovered a person’s body after extinguishing a fire at a vacant commercial building in Boyle Heights on Saturday morning, officials said. The fire was first reported about 6:20 a.m. when someone knocked on the door of Los Angeles Fire Station 25 and alerted the crew that a building was on fire several blocks down the road at 2500 E. Whittier Blvd., LAFD Capt. Brandon Silverman said. Firefighters found smoke and flames emanating from the mezzanine area of the commercial building, officials said. “They immediately began an aggressive fire attack,” Silverman said. Eighty-six firefighters extinguished the fire in under half an hour, he said. “During a secondary search after the knockdown of the fire, tragically, one adult victim was found beyond medical help and declared deceased on scene,” Silverman said.

L.A. County’s Coronavirus Cases Climb To 8,873 With 265 Deaths
Los Angeles County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 8,873 with 265 deaths Saturday as residents started Easter weekend with more restrictions on movement and faced with a longer stay-at-home order. Another 25 deaths and 456 new positive cases were reported Saturday, according to a Los Angeles County Department of Public Health news release. There have been 931 new cases confirmed over the past 48 hours, authorities said. Of those who died most recently, 21 were over the age of 65 while two were between the ages of 41 and 65 years old. Twenty-one had underlying health conditions. Of all the county’s COVID-19 patients who have died, 83% have had underlying health conditions, authorities said. “As people of different faiths come together this weekend, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are experiencing loss, illness and distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county’s health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a written statement.

Coronavirus: Los Angeles County Extends ‘Safer At Home' Order Until May 15, Issues Requirements On Face Coverings
Health and elected officials on Friday announced the "safer at home" order that has been in effect throughout Los Angeles County since last month will be extended until at least May 15. The announcement was made during the county's daily briefing, where officials also said face coverings will be required in public countywide beginning at midnight on April 15. "We're extending the health officer orders -- which, as you know, require a fair amount of distancing and continue to keep in place closures of non-essential business -- not because everything everyone has been doing isn't's because it is working. We know it's effective, but we still have a ways to go in order to both protect the lives of people who live in our county and to make sure that our health care system remains fully able to service all who need their care," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health. The new health order requires each essential business to implement and document a social distancing and sanitation plan, and requires the plan to be visibly posted at the front of individual business locations.

COVID-19 Death Toll In The U.S. Surpasses 20,000, Now Highest In The World
The COVID-19 death toll in the United States became the highest in the world Saturday as America surpassed Italy in reported fatalities from the pandemic. In just six weeks, more than 20,400 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy, with a population less than one-fifth that of the U.S., has reported about 19,500 fatalities. America’s coronavirus infection caseload is also the world’s highest. About 526,000 have been confirmed across all 50 states. The death and infection totals in the U.S. and other countries are widely believed to be underreported. In China, where the outbreak originated, the population is more than four times that of the U.S., and the government has reported 3,343 deaths. In New York, the hardest-hit state by far, at least 8,627 people have died, including 783 in the last day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. A sharp drop in new hospitalizations suggests that stay-at-home orders are slowing the spread of infections. Nonetheless, more than 700 New Yorkers have died each day since Monday.

About the LAPPL Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,900 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at: