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

February 2, 2021
Law Enforcement News

One Dead, Another Injured In Montecito Heights Shooting
One man was killed and a second critically wounded in a shooting Monday night near the 110 Freeway in Montecito Heights, police said. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station were called at 7:30 p.m. to a report of shots fired at a homeless encampment along the northbound side of the 110 Freeway, police officials said. At the encampment, which is situated on a bank of the Arroyo Seco near the Avenue 60 onramp, officers found two men with gunshot wounds, Det. Larry Burcher said. One man, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene. The second was transported to a hospital in critical but stable condition. Both men appeared to be homeless, Burcher said. He declined to identify the victim because his next of kin had yet to be notified. The LAPD’s Northeast station recently issued a “community alert” regarding a spate of shootings in Highland Park, not far from the homeless encampment where the two men were shot Monday. On Jan. 25, a father and daughter were shot inside their car at Avenue 50 and Milo Terrace. The daughter survived, but her father, identified as Miguel Angel Carachure, 68, was killed. Police say they’ve identified no motive for the shooting. Two people were killed Jan. 18 in the northeast Los Angeles area, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner’s records. Gregorio Gomez, 28, was shot to death in an alley in the 600 block of Milwaukee Avenue in Highland Park. Irvin Fidel Ocampo Moreno was fatally shot in the 4500 block of Huntington Drive in Montecito Heights. Burcher said there was no current indication that Monday’s killing was connected to these recent shootings.

Shooting At Tarzana Bar
The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating a bar fight that led to a shooting in Tarzana late Monday night.

Prosecutors Can't Be At Parole Hearing For 'Subterranean Rapist' Due To Gascón's Policies
In 1981, it was one of the biggest stories in Los Angeles. A story making headlines not only locally, but all across the country. The parolee, known as the "Subterranean Rapist" terrorized Los Angeles, raping up to 50 women. The convicted rapist, born James Edward Hughes, had been denied parole twice but has another hearing coming up in April and prosecutors won't be allowed to attend due to Los Angles County DA George Gascón's policy change. FOX 11 spoke with one of the victims, who was 19 when Hughes stabbed and sexually assaulted her inside a garage. The victim -- who we'll call "Jane" to protect her identity -- is outraged and feels abandoned by the DA's office. Her message to Gascón? "You represent the people, and you will not be there for me," Jane said. Hughes, a former x-ray technician who was out on parole for a prior rape conviction, went on to sexually assault up to 50 more women in LA, including Jane. "Just really, really hard to talk about, even to this day, 40 years later," Jane told FOX 11. Hughes was later arrested, charged and sentenced to 94 years in prison. Fast-forward to 2021, the Subterranean Rapist has been in prison for about 40 years. While no known photos of him exist, his Megan's Law profile shows the litany of rape charges he was convicted of. Hughes has already been denied for parole twice but in April, the 70-year-old is up for parole once again. But this time, a prosecutor won't be allowed to attend the hearing the advocate his ongoing prison sentence -- as a direct result of reforms from Gascón. This means Jane will be on her own to oppose her rapist's release. 

L.A. Man Gets 6 Years For DUI Crash That Killed Passenger
A 32-year-old Los Angeles man was sentenced Monday, Feb. 1, to six years in prison for an alcohol-fueled collision on the 5 Freeway in Anaheim nearly two years ago that killed his passenger. Johnathan Suarez pleaded guilty Nov. 20 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08. Suarez was behind the wheel of a 2010 Toyota that slammed into a 2019 Freightliner box truck about 2:50 a.m. on March 13, 2019, on the 5 Freeway near Euclid Street, the California Highway Patrol said. Suarez’s passenger, 28-year-old Adan Aquino of Los Angeles, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police Nab 6 For Altering Hollywood Sign
A half-dozen people were taken into custody Monday, shortly after police said they altered the “w” and “d” of the Hollywood sign to make the famous landmark read “Hollyboob.” The group affixed large apparent tarps to the sign to change the letters, according to Sgt. Leonard Calderon of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollywood Station, who said participants told an officer they did so to raise awareness of breast cancer. “They didn’t commit any permanent damage,” Calderon said. An LAPD helicopter crew called to the scene about 1:15 p.m. directed officers to the participants before they could leave the area. The six, who were described only as five males and one female, were taken into custody on suspicion of trespassing and taken to the Hollywood Station, where they were to be issued citations and released on their own recognizance. Their names were not released. In a Twitter post, LAPD Capt.Steve Lurie said, “Los Angeles landmarks are precious to those of us [at LAPD’s Hollywood Division] and this was way uncool (not to mention the terrain is quite steep & dangerous).”

Downtown L.A. Hookah Lounge Owner Due In Court On ‘Ghost Gun’ Charge
A hookah lounge owner is expected to make his initial court appearance Monday in downtown Los Angeles on a federal criminal charge alleging he illegally sold firearms — including several “ghost guns” — out of his business. Hovik Dagesian, 39, of Burbank, is charged with one federal count of possession of an unregistered firearm, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. According to an affidavit filed with the complaint last week, Dagesian illegally sold 10 firearms, including an AR-15-style short-barreled rifle with no serial number, on four occasions between Oct. 30 and Jan. 8. Dagesian does not have a federal firearms license and does not have any firearms registered to him, according to the affidavit, which further alleges that he sold other AR-15-style ghost guns — firearms that are made from component parts and do not have serial numbers — as well as a semiautomatic shotgun, a Tec-DC9 pistol and a vintage “Tommy” gun. Each of the illegal firearms sales allegedly occurred at Dagesian’s place of business, DTLA Hookah Lounge. During the execution of a search warrant, law enforcement personnel seized more than a dozen firearms from his downtown business, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Beverly Hills Doctor Sentenced, Ordered To Pay $2.9M In Restitution For Massive Medical Insurance Scam
A Beverly Hills doctor who authorities say performed unnecessary surgeries on patients in one of the nation’s largest medical insurance fraud schemes was sentenced Friday. Dr. Mario Rosenberg pleaded no contest in 2014 to felony insurance fraud and was given three years of probation and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay $2.9 million in restitution, the Orange County Register reported. Rosenberg and others recruited healthy people to undergo surgeries in exchange for money or low-cost cosmetic procedures such as “tummy tucks,” prosecutors said. Health insurers were then billed for unnecessary and dangerous procedures, which included hysterectomies and colonoscopies, prosecutors alleged. They said more than 2,800 people were recruited and Rosenberg and two other doctors performed more than 1,000 surgeries. The scam was centered at a now-closed surgical outpatient clinic in Buena Park. The $154 million scheme ended in 2008 with 19 people being indicted. At the time, authorities called it the largest medical fraud scheme in the country.

20,000 Pounds Of Cocaine, Marijuana Worth $211 Million Seized From International Waters Offloaded In San Diego
More than $211 million worth of seized cocaine and marijuana was offloaded by the Coast Guard and Navy in San Diego Monday. Approximately 11,400 pounds of cocaine and 9,000 pounds of cocaine had been seized by crews on the USS Gabrielle Giffords and three other Coast Guard cutters in the international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between October and December, according to the Coast Guard. “When you are covering a drug-smuggling transit zone the size of the continental United States, every ship makes a huge difference,” Lt. Jonathan Dietrich said in a statement. The LEDET 407, whose crew is based in Miami, was the source of five cases involving 10,570 pounds of cocaine and 4,100 pounds of marijuana. The Spencer made the next biggest seizures at 420 pounds of cocaine and 1,450 pounds of marijuana, while The Seneca seized 350 pounds of cocaine in one case, and the Legare seized 53 pounds of cocaine and 3,400 pounds of marijuana in another.

California Man Arrested After Livestream Shows 2 Bodies
Police in California arrested a man suspected of two killings after someone reported seeing a livestream on social media that showed him with a gun and two women lying motionless on the floor of an apartment. The Vacaville Police Department said officers went to an apartment complex for formerly homeless veterans and low-income families early Saturday after getting a call from a woman about the livestream. “The video showed the man carrying a handgun and two women lying on the floor — not moving,” the department said on Facebook. Officers found the man had barricaded himself in the apartment, and a SWAT team and negotiators were called in, police said. Negotiations didn't work, so the building was evacuated and officers got inside the apartment with “distraction devices and chemical agents,” the department said. There was a brief struggle and a Taser was used before police took the man into custody. “Officers additionally found two women deceased inside of the apartment,” the department said in the post. How they died is under investigation.

2 FBI Agents Shot In Florida While Attempting To Serve Warrant
FBI agents were attempting to serve a warrant in a residential neighborhood in Sunrise Tuesday morning, when shots rang out. There were at least two casualties, including a FBI agent who was shot, an agent confirmed to The South Florida Sun Sentinel. The shooting happened at a complex called Reflections, where a person has barricaded him or herself inside a residence. Paramedics were called to the scene to attend to the wounded, and Fort Lauderdale police had sent a small SWAT contingency team to Sunrise to assist with the situation. Davie Police Sgt. Kelvin Urbaez, said Tuesday that his department was assisting after the fact, and no Davie officers were part of the shooting and none were injured.

Study: Killings Surge In 2020; Pandemic, Protests Play Roles
Killings rose dramatically across the U.S. last year, and a study released Monday suggests the coronavirus pandemic and racial injustice unrest were factors. The study released by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, along with the Houston-based philanthropic organization Arnold Ventures, looked at crime rates in 34 cities of varying sizes. It found a 30% spike in homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. Study leaders called for urgent action to improve police-community relations and expand anti-violence initiatives. Richard Rosenfeld, a University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist and one of the study’s lead authors, said officers around the country were forced off the streets and into quarantine due to either contracting COVID-19 or to avoid being exposed by colleagues. Even when on the job, social distancing requirements kept officers from interacting closely with the community, he said. “That really reduced the ability of law officers to engage in the kinds of proactive policing that can reduce crime,” Rosenfeld said in an interview. 

Public Safety News

Massive Fire Breaks Out At Auto Parts Storage Facility In Cypress Park
Over 100 firefighters were battling a fire at an auto parts storage facility in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles Tuesday morning. Crews responded to the 1000 block of N. San Fernando Road at about 4 a.m. and reported fire coming out of the roof of the one-story building with dense interior storage, said Brian Humphrey with the Los Angeles Fire Department. The area is blocked off. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

January Marked COVID-19 Pandemic’s Deadliest Month In L.A., California
Despite a downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as growing vaccinations in Los Angeles County, the disease killed more people in January than any other month of the pandemic, data from The Times tracker show. In the first month of 2021, 6,411 people lost their lives to COVID-19 in L.A. County, according to Times’ data — roughly 137% more than the previous most-deadly month of December, in which 2,703 people died. To date, nearly 17,000 have died of the disease in the county. And it’s not just Los Angeles that is seeing skyrocketing death tolls. California reported its largest number of deaths in January too: 14,940. Statewide totals since the start of the pandemic are nearing 41,000, signifying that at least 1 in every 1,000 Californians has been killed by COVID-19. Currently, only about 2,700 deaths separate California and New York, where just over 43,600 people have died of the illness since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. But New York saw its peak in April, while California is still reeling from a surge that began in late November.

How The Coronavirus Flooded California And Swamped L.A.
It started in Orange County a little more than a year ago. With the sun long set and many residents in bed, the public health department posted a message on Twitter at 11:08 p.m. last Jan. 25. A traveler from Wuhan, China had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Twelve hours later in Los Angeles, Barbara Ferrer, the top public health official in America's most populous county, had an announcement. A second person person returning from Wuhan had been hospitalized with the virus. At the time, there were only four known cases in the United States. Some leaders, including the president, gave assurances that the virus would soon be snuffed out. They were wrong. There have been 26 million confirmed cases and more than 400,000 deaths nationwide. In California, more than 3 million people have tested positive and 40,000 have died. The Times has been tracking the numbers since the pandemic’s earliest days. A look back on the first anniversary of the outbreak shows how the spread across the state unfolded in four distinct chapters, leading to a massive winter swell which the state is still recovering from.

CDC Order Requiring Face Masks On All Public Transportation, Rideshares Goes Into Effect At Midnight
A new order mandating all passengers traveling in the U.S. by plane, train, bus or other public transportation to wear a mask took effect Tuesday morning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order on Friday that requires all travelers to wear a mask when on a plane, train, bus, ferry, subway, taxi or rideshare within the U.S. Masks will also be required when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub. The CDC says masks, which must cover both the mouth and nose and not have any openings or exhalation valves, must be worn for the duration of the traveler’s trip. Face shields may not be used instead of a mask that is fitted snugly around a person’s face. “I think that should’ve been done a long time ago,” Jennifer Sardelich, a traveler, said. “I just naturally thought it was.” The Transportation Security Administration says it will enforce the CDC order, which echoes President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring travelers to wear masks when they are in airports, bus and rail stations, and in mass transit. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed into the secure areas of an airport, including the terminal and gate area, and may be subject to a civil penalty for attempting to circumvent screening requirements, according to the TSA.

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: