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 4, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Gunman Ambushed Slain FBI Agents With Doorbell Camera, Police Say
In the bloodiest day for the FBI in decades, two veteran agents were shot to death and three others wounded Tuesday morning when a gunman opened fire from inside his home as they attempted to serve a search warrant at an apartment in Sunrise as part of a child pornography probe. The gunman, not yet identified by the FBI, is believed to have monitored the approach of the agents with a doorbell camera and ambushed them through the unopened door with a hail of bullets from an assault-style rifle, law enforcement sources told the Miami Herald. “There are several huge holes in the door going outward,” one law enforcement official said. The murders of agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger left the FBI reeling, as investigators began piecing together what went wrong in the type of raid that usually unfolds with little attention but is also fraught with danger for law enforcement. Such raids are commonly conducted in conjunction with heavily armed tactical officers, although Tuesday’s operation was not.

Texas LEO Critically Injured In Shootout; Suspects Sought
A Balcones Heights police officer was critically injured Wednesday after a shootout with at least two men at an apartment complex, officials said. Sgt. Joe Sepulveda, an 18-year veteran of the department, was hospitalized after the exchange of gunfire, Balcones Heights Mayor Suzanne de Leon said. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Sepulveda and a fellow officer, Edgard Ortiz, were called to the SOL Apartments for a report of suspicious persons and a possible vehicle burglary around 1:30 p.m. In the parking lot of the complex at 6945 West Interstate 10, Sepulveda made contact with at least two suspects in a white pickup. "Something in that truck may have made that sergeant feel threatened," Salazar said. Sepulveda drew his weapon and exchanged fire with the people inside the truck. As he retreated, Sepulveda was shot and fell to the ground, the sheriff said. Ortiz returned fire while dragging his partner to safety, then drove him in their patrol vehicle to a nearby hospital. "That officer's quick thinking actions probably saved the sergeant's life," Salazar said.

Double Murderer Approved For Parole At Third Hearing; Prosecutors Barred From Attending Under Gascón's Reform
A gang member and double murderer convicted in the shooting and killing of two teenagers at a party in Los Angeles more than thirty years ago was found to be suitable for parole by the state at a hearing on Wednesday, a hearing that prosecutors weren’t allowed to attend as part of new District Attorney George Gascón's reforms. Howard Elwin Jones has been imprisoned at San Quentin state prison since 1991 for the December 1988 shooting and killing of 18-year-old Chris Baker and another boy at a party in Rowland Heights. Baker’s family tells FOX 11 that Jones, an active gang member at the time who was just hours away from his 18th birthday, showed up to the party armed with a gun, and confronted a boy who was wearing a red Santa hat, which he had interpreted as a symbol of the bloods gang. "The boy said, please don’t shoot me, and started to walk away," said Dianne Baker-Taylor, Baker’s sister. "And that’s when Mr. Jones fired at him, and the rowed dispersed and as they dispersed, my brother, in the chaos, ended up running alongside [the boy], and they both died as a result of their injuries." Baker-Taylor tells FOX 11 that Jones was initially sentenced to 45 years to life for the two murders, but after Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 260 into law in 2013, he became eligible for parole much sooner. State records show Jones was denied parole in both 2015 and 2017, but on Wednesday morning, at his third parole hearing, Jones, now age 50, was found to be suitable for parole by the state, and as part of DA’ George Gascón's reforms, prosecutors from the Los Angeles DA’s office were barred from attending the hearing, or advocating against Jones’ release, as they had before at the previous hearings.

Deal Between LAPD Union, City Also Avoids Possible Shutdown Of Harbor Station Jail
A deal struck between a union representing Los Angeles police officers and the city to avoid laying off 355 sworn officers will also allow the Harbor Station jail to remain open at least through June, officials said Wednesday, Feb. 3. It wasn’t immediately known if plans to close the Harbor jail, along with two others, were finalized in order to help bridge a $675 million revenue shortfall brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but at least one mid-January proposal included the possibility of the closure, said Dustin DeRollo, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Protective League. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore had said at a December Public Safety Committee meeting that without delaying pay raises, closing at least one of the three regional jails was an option. Of the Department’s seven regional jails, four remain closed – Devonshire, Southwest, Wilshire and Foothill. The Harbor Station jail had been closed for nearly 10 years, due to budget cuts and decreased staffing, before it was reopened in February 2020. It reopened to accept arrestees in an effort to keep patrol officers in the community. Twenty-seven jailers were brought in last year to staff the jail. “We were talking about layoffs and closing of the jail, which would have been catastrophic to patrols,” said Branimir Kvurtac, a spokesman for Councilman Joe Buscaino’s office.

66-Year-Old Woman Crossing Street Killed By Hit-and-Run Driver In South LA
Police Wednesday were investigating a fatal-hit-and-run crash that left a 66-year-old woman dead in South Los Angeles. The crash occurred about 5:50 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Main and 97th streets, in the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Authorities said a vehicle described as a white pickup truck with wood paneling was traveling south on Main Street when it struck the woman, who was walking west on 97th Street out of a crosswalk. The truck then fled, continuing south before turning east onto 98th Street, according to police. The woman, whose name has not been publicly released, was taken to a hospital, where she died, LAPD said. "The driver of the vehicle failed to stop and render aid or identify themselves as required by California law,'' the department said in a statement, adding that a $50,000 reward is available to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspect, or to a civil resolution. Tipsters can call South Traffic Division detectives at 323-421-2500.

Man Wanted In Sexual Assault Of Woman In West Hollywood
Authorities Wednesday sought public help to find a man who sexually assaulted a woman in her West Hollywood home. The crime occurred on Jan. 21 in the 8400 block of Fountain Avenue, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported. According to the department, the man entered the 28-year old woman’s home through her patio sliding door. “The suspect grabbed the victim by the neck and shoulders and forced her onto the living room couch,” a sheriff’s department statement said. “The suspect undressed the victim and sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to fight the suspect off by striking him, resulting in the victim breaking free.” The man fled on a black “crossover/hybrid type bike” with medium-sized tires, the department reported. The suspect was described as white or Hispanic, in his early 30s, 5-feet-7 inches to 5-feet-11 inches tall, with short black hair and brown eyes. He may have had a tattoo on his right arm. Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau tipline at 877-710-5273.

Smash-and-Grab Rolex Burglar Hits Glendale Jewelry Store In Broad Daylight
Police circulated security images Wednesday of a man wanted for stealing several Rolex watches in a “smash-and-grab” burglary at a Glendale jewelry store. The crime occurred about 4 p.m. Jan. 19 on the 100 block of North Brand Boulevard, the Glendale Police Department reported. The name of the store was not released. “The suspect approached the store carrying a white bag and a small black suitcase,” according to a police statement. “He pulled out a chain with a padlock, which he used to lock the front door.” The man then smashed the exterior glass using a metal socket wrench, grabbed several Rolex watches, and ran to a nearby minivan and drove off in a black 1999 Dodge Caravan, license number 7LWN557, police said. The suspect was described as white or Hispanic, 25 to 35 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall with a medium build. He wore dark clothing and a face mask. Anyone with information on the case was urged to call police at 818-548-4911.

Shooting In Bellflower Leaves Man Dead, Another Wounded
One man was killed and another wounded in a shooting Wednesday as they sat inside a car in Bellflower. The shooting happened just after midnight in the 12300 block of Woodruff Place. One of the men managed to drive the vehicle to Pioneer Boulevard, where he flagged down a deputy, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials. The deputy discovered both of the men inside had been shot. One of the men was pronounced dead at the scene. The man who was killed was identified by the L.A. coroner’s office Wednesday as 50-year-old Lawrence Ventura. The second man was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, authorities said. Investigators did not give a motive for the shooting or a description of the shooter. Anyone with information about the shooting can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau at (323) 890-5500.

Villanueva Notifies Gascón That Detectives Will Attend Parole Hearings To ‘Give Victims A Voice'
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has notified District Attorney George Gascón that he will begin sending his sheriff's detectives to parole hearings to "give victims a voice" as long as the newly elected DA continues to refuse to allow his prosecutors to attend them as part of his new reforms. "I cannot understand why your office is barring prosecutors from attending parole hearings," the letter penned by Villanueva to Gascón reads. "The purpose of the correspondence is to notify you, if prosecutors will no longer be allowed to attend parole hearings, the LASD will attend parole hearings in the absence of your prosecutors." "At the request of family members, the LASD will do everything possible to give victims a voice at the table to address their concerns," the letter continued. Villanueva said that the decision was made "despite the lack of funding and resources to my department." "I strongly believe this is the right thing to do," Villanueva wrote. Shortly after being sworn into office in December, Gascón issued a directive on so-called "lifer parole hearings" that indicated that the office's "default policy is that we will not attend parole hearings and will support in writing the grant of parole for a person who has already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration, defined as their MEPD (Minimum Eligible Parole Date), YEPD (Youth Parole Eligible Date) or EPD (Elderly Parole Date)."

DOJ Charges 3 More Men For Roles In Capitol Riot
Federal agents on Wednesday arrested a prominent member of the Seattle chapter of the Proud Boys, a nationalist, chauvinist organization, for his role in storming the U.S. Capitol with other pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6. Ethan Nordean, a self-described "Sergeant of Arms" for the Seattle Proud Boys, faces several charges, including impeding an official government proceeding, aiding and abetting, knowingly entering restricted grounds, and violent entry. Separately, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday indicted Nicholas DeCarlo and Nicholas R. Ochs for conspiracy to obstruct Congress, and other charges related to the insurrection. The indictment says Ochs purports to have founded of the Honolulu Proud Boys. The U.S. Justice Department charges all three men planned to overrun the Capitol in order to stop Congress' certification of the 2020 electoral votes. More than 100 people have been charged so far for breaching the Capitol last month. Investigators have focused on members of far-right organizations and other extremist groups, who they believe conspired to storm the Capitol building and disrupt the proceedings that day.

Public Safety News

L.A. Plans To Bring Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Centers To Vulnerable Seniors Lacking Transportation
Los Angeles is beginning to roll out mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics for those without transportation in communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday. The program kicked off Tuesday in South L.A., in City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s 8thDistrict, Garcetti announced in a livestreamed virus briefing. “Nothing is more important than making sure that all Angelenos have access to the vaccine once they are eligible, and distributing it to those most in need,” he said. The mayor said the new mobile site met its goal on its first day, though he didn’t specify how many doses were administered. Garcetti did not say if mobile clinic appointments would be available on the city’s vaccination scheduling portal, or if participants were otherwise selected. Mobile vaccinations will return to District 8 next week, and another site will also be set up in District 9 “with a goal of scaling this program up as quickly as possible,” Garcetti said.

Health Department Confirms Third Case Of COVID-19 Variant In LA County
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has confirmed the third case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7. The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom. B.1.1.7 is considered more contagious, but not necessarily more deadly, than the original strain of COVID-19. This variant was first discovered in September of 2020 and is now widespread in London and Southeast England. LA County health confirmed its first case of the variant on Jan. 16. Further information about the third case of the variant was not immediately given. The county also reported 256 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 5, 189 positive cases; this brings the county’s total to 1,129,503 cases and 17,308 deaths since the pandemic started nearly a year ago. Daily COVID-19 case numbers continue to go down in LA County, but health officials are warning people that cases could surge again if people grow complacent and stop adhering to health restrictions, particularly with the recent reopening of more businesses and with Super Bowl Sunday just days away.

Local Government News

LA Will Have 7,961 New Housing Units For Homeless By 2024, Officials Say
Los Angeles officials told the City Council Wednesday that they’re making good progress on three homelessness initiatives: A Bridge Home, Proposition HHH and the COVID-19 Homelessness Roadmap. Ann Sewill, general manager of the Housing and Community Investment Department, briefed the council on the status of Proposition HHH, which was approved by voters in November 2016 and was designed to increase supportive housing production from 300 units a year to 1,000 every year for 10 years. Sewill said the city has 124 Proposition HHH-funded projects, with a total of 7,961 in the pipeline — 961 more than the initial goal of 7,000. Those include: Seven facilities, with 489 units, completed and occupied or have people moving in, 44 facilities, with 2,779 units, currently under construction, 16 facilities expected to close construction financing by spring 2021, 28 facilities expected to close construction financing by the end of 2021, and 29 facilities still assembling financing but expected to close by the end of 2022. Officials expect to have all 7,961 units completed by 2024.

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: