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

August 25, 2021
Law Enforcement News

New Murders And More MS-13 Members Added To Sprawling Case Against Gang's Clique
Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have expanded a case brought two years ago against the MS-13 gang, charging nine additional members with crimes and accusing the gang of four new murders. A grand jury indictment returned earlier this month and unsealed Tuesday charges a total of 31 alleged members and associates of MS-13 with a decade-long string of crimes, including 11 killings. The case, which prosecutors first filed in 2019, focuses on the Fulton clique of MS-13 — a subset of the gang that claims parts of North Hollywood, Panorama City and Van Nuys as its territory. In 2016, the new indictment alleges, the Fulton clique made a gruesome departure from other Los Angeles cliques when it began requiring prospective members to kill a person before they could be considered a full-fledged member. Each of the 11 murders described in the indictment were committed either by aspiring members or by established adherents looking to rise within the clique's ranks, prosecutors claim. In the new indictment, prosecutors expanded on a claim they made when the case was first filed: that the gang's Fulton chapter has been influenced by recruits from El Salvador, where MS-13 is generally considered more violent than in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Man Convicted Of Murder, Other Counts For Crime Spree That Included The Killing Of A Motorist In Panorama City
An ex-con was convicted Tuesday of taking part in a violent crime spree that included a motorist being fatally shot in Panorama City and a wrong-way freeway crash in which a woman and her three children were injured in Sun Valley. The downtown Los Angeles jury deliberated about two days before finding Artyom Gasparyan, 37, guilty of more than 30 counts, including a first- degree murder charge stemming from the Dec. 30, 2015, killing of Adan Corea, a 32-year-old father of two who lost control of his vehicle after being shot. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of an intentional shooting from a vehicle, along with an allegation that Gasparyan was not armed but knew that the gunman was armed. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy had earlier rejected a motion made at the behest of District Attorney George Gascón to dismiss the special circumstance allegation, for which Gasparyan now faces a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole, according to Deputy District Attorney John McKinney. Los Angeles Daily News

LAPD Seeks Public's Help In Identifying Assailant In Downtown Stabbing
The Los Angeles Police Department is looking for a man who appears in video to have stabbed another man on Aug. 14 in downtown Los Angeles. In security video released by the LAPD Tuesday, the man can be seen approaching another man inside a business in the 600 block of South Broadway at about 11:20 a.m. The assailant reaches into his pocket, pulls out what appears to be a knife and stabs the other man in the torso before quickly walking away from the scene. The victim was taken to a local hospital by the Los Angeles Fire Department. He was treated for his injuries and released, police said. Police are seeking the attacker as part of an assault with a deadly weapon investigation. The assailant is believed to be a Hispanic man between 30 and 35 years old, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing about 165 pounds, police said. In the video of the stabbing, the assailant has medium-length black hair and is wearing a blue button-up shirt, jeans and what could be hiking boots, police said. Anyone with information is asked to contact Central Area Officer Ramirez at 213-996-1846. KTLA 5

LAPD Says 84 Employees Test Positive For COVID-19 In Last Week
Eighty-four Los Angeles Police Department employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week and two additional employees were hospitalized, according to LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who said Tuesday it was a "substantial increase" from last week. A total of 2,977 employees have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and the increase in the last week is almost double the number who tested positive the previous week, when 45 LAPD employees tested positive for the virus. Two employees were hospitalized this week, but the four who were in the hospital last week were released and are at home recovering. Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday that 26 of the new COVID-19 cases at the department are concentrated in the Central Area in downtown Los Angeles. Protective measures are being taken at the Central Area station, including restricting front desk access, in an effort to reduce the infection rate, Moore said. The LAPD on Monday began its mobile vaccination clinic deployment in an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates within the department, which has lagged behind the general adult population in Los Angeles. Each station will have a clinic that runs for 20 hours per day, allowing night shift and day shift employees to get vaccinated. NBC 4

Man Accused Of Slashing Tires In Venice, LAPD Says There Could Be More Victims
A man who allegedly slashed the tires of a number of parked vehicles in the Venice area was in custody Tuesday, and police urged other possible victims to call detectives. Roland Morrow, 48, was arrested Monday and booked on suspicion of felony vandalism, the Los Angeles Police Department reported. He was being held on an unrelated no-bail parole warrant, police said. According to police, the crimes were committed between Friday and Sunday near Lincoln Boulevard and Rose, Flower and Vernon avenues. "The suspect terrorized the community by using a folding knife to slash the tires of multiple parked vehicles," police said in a statement. "The suspect also threw a brick at a window causing it to shatter." Morrow allegedly fled the area on a bicycle, police said. Police urged anyone with information on the case, or anyone who may have been victimized in a similar way, to call detectives at 310-482-6420 or 310-482-6367. FOX 11

Bonin Recall Effort In Full Swing
Recall has become a catchword in California as efforts to unseat sitting incumbents across the state are heating up, including in Council District 11. Members of the Recall Councilmember Mike Bonin 2021 campaign are in full swing gathering signatures to get a recall on the ballot. The recall is expected to come down to whether recall supporters can mobilize enough of the District 11 voter base to counteract Bonin's base and oust the councilman. The campaign needs 27,387 signatures by November 10 to move the recall forward. Bonin claimed in a statement about the recall that the campaign is backed by right-wing forces and constituents who have fought to stop housing, shelter and services for the unhoused in the coastal neighborhoods, “leaving people to die on the streets.” Nico Ruderman and recall campaign co-chair Katrina Schmitt say that's not true and cite the humanitarian crisis of the homeless population under Bonin's watch, mismanagement of taxpayer money and the reality of local businesses struggling to stay afloat as reasons for the recall effort. The two also point to the rampant increase in crime. Westside Current

LA City Council To Consider Ban On Untraceable Ghost Guns
The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday will consider a motion that would ban the possession and sale of homemade ghost guns. The motion, introduced by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian earlier this month, would prohibit the “possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of non-serialized, unfinished frames and unfinished receivers, and non-serialized firearms” in the city of L.A. If approved Wednesday, the L.A. City Attorney will be asked to draft an ordinance that the city council would then vote on again to make the ban a law. Ghost guns, also known as kit guns, are assembled at home from parts that usually come in a kit and do not have serial numbers, as opposed to whole guns that are purchased from manufacturers. In April, President Joe Biden issued an executive action directing the Department of Justice to right rules that would stop the proliferation of ghost guns. Koretz and Krekorian note that the kits usually cost between $400 and $525, come in cardboard boxes that contain steel barrels and other parts and, “because the parts are not finished guns, they mostly escape California's gun control laws.” According to the motion, last month Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said ghost guns now account for one-third of all weapons recovered by the LAPD. CBS 2

Man, 58, Reported Missing In San Pedro
A 58-year-old man diagnosed with memory-related issues and mental illness last seen in San Pedro was reported missing Tuesday. Kevin Michael Kruska was last seen at about 7 a.m near the 1300 of block of West 7th Street, near Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. Kruska is white, 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds, with gray hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts was asked to call the LAPD Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800. Calls during non-business hours or on weekends should be made to 877-527-3247. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at .

Authorities Search For Missing Girl, Grandmother
Authorities Tuesday were searching for a 1-year-old girl and her grandmother who have not been seen since a court hearing that ordered the woman to relinquish custody of the girl. Sylvia Velasco was ordered on Aug. 4 to release her granddaughter, Serenity Velasco, to the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Sylvia Velasco has not relinquished custody of her granddaughter and neither have been seen since the order to release custody was given. Serenity is 2-feet-7 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Sylvia Velasco is 5-feet-4 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She is also known to go by the names Sylvia Ramos, Irene Ramirez and Sandra Romero. Authorities believe Sylvia Velasco may be with the missing girl in the South Gate area. Anyone with information on Serenity or Sylvia Velasco's whereabouts was asked to contact LASD Detective Meyers at 562-863-8711 or .

South Korean Man To Plead Guilty In LA To Plant Poaching
A South Korean national who was extradited to Los Angeles is expected to plead guilty Monday to attempting to illegally export thousands of lotus-like California succulents, worth $600,000 in Asia, that he and two others had pulled out of the ground at remote state parks. Byungsu Kim, 46, will enter his plea in Los Angeles federal court to a charge of attempting to export plants taken in violation of state law, which carries a sentence of up to five years behind bars, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. After he was charged in 2018, the defendant fled to Tijuana before federal authorities could arrest him, then traveled to South Korea. He was later arrested in South Africa and extradited to the United States in October last year, authorities said. Kim — who previously operated a nursery in Vista — and two co-defendants removed the lotus-like Dudleya succulents three years ago, took them to a nursery in San Diego and then transported the plants to a commercial exporter in Compton, planning to use an illegally obtained permit to ship the plants to South Korea, federal prosecutors allege. NBC 4

More Convenience Store Robberies Investigated Amid Search For Suspect In L.A., O.C County Incidents
Two convenience store robberies that occurred Tuesday morning are being investigation as the search continues for a suspect in another group of incidents in Buena Park, La Palma and Whittier. Two robberies were reported early Tuesday in the Westchester and Palms areas of Los Angeles. That's as police say a series of robberies in the Southeast L.A. County area that occurred over the weekend appeared to be related.  KTLA 5 Video

Audit: California Agency Bungled COVID-19 Funds For Homeless
A California agency didn't properly distribute federal relief funds meant to help homeless residents during the coronavirus pandemic, and the mismanagement was so prolonged that local organizations may lose the money because of missed deadlines, auditors said Tuesday. After receiving $316 million under the federal CARES Act to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on unhoused people, the California Department of Housing and Community Development “did not take critical steps to ensure those funds promptly benefited that population,” the state auditor's office said in a  report . The department was in charge of distributing the funds to local groups that collaborate on homeless services and prevention under the so-called continuum of care. It took so long to finalize contracts that the local entities did not have access to much of the funding during the height of the pandemic, auditors found. “Recognizing it lacked the capacity to manage this emergency funding, the department hired a contractor to manage the program although it did not do so until 14 months after the CARES Act passed” in March 2020, the report said. Because the local organizations did not have access to the money in a prompt manner, they may struggle to spend the full allocations within federally mandated time frames and may lose the funding, auditors concluded. Associated Press

Pennsylvania Officer In Critical Condition After Being Stabbed; Suspect Dead
A Butler City Police officer was in surgery Tuesday morning and a Butler man was dead after a violent encounter that lasted about five minutes, authorities said. The incident began with a 911 call around 6:54 a.m. about an "erratic male" on West Jefferson Street who was reportedly jumping in and out of traffic, said Joshua Black, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper and public information officer for the Troop D barracks. It was not clear how many officers responded to the call, but they arrived on the scene at 6:57 a.m., according to Black. "As soon as the Butler City officer encountered the male, a struggle ensued," he said. Within the next two minutes, the officer was stabbed multiple times, Black said, and he fired his service weapon at around 6:59 a.m. Police identified the man, who was killed in the shooting, as 35-year-old John Ebberts. The wounded officer, a 27-year-old man who is a Marine veteran and has been with the department for three years, was taken via helicopter to UPMC Presbyterian, Black said. He was in surgery around mid-morning and in stable but critical condition.  The Tribune-Review, Greensburg

Slain Chicago Officer's Partner Moves To Rehab After Being Paralyzed, Losing An Eye
A Chicago police officer left partially paralyzed by a shooting that killed his partner has been moved to a rehabilitation center but still faces “a long road ahead," the city's police superintendent says. Officer Carlos Yanez, Jr.'s move out of a hospital marks “a major step in his recovery process,” Superintendent David Brown said Monday. Yanez, 39, lost an eye and was partially paralyzed when he was shot three times on Aug. 7 in a shooting during a routine traffic stop that killed his 29-year-old partner, Officer Ella French. They had pulled over a vehicle for expired plates when a passenger in the vehicle opened fire. Yanez's sister and sister-in-law have set up a GoFundMe page seeking contributions for the extensive therapy he will need as he tries to overcome the paralysis. The shooting suspect, 21-year-old Monty Morgan, was shot in the abdomen by a third officer. He has been arrested and is charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer and attempted murder. His brother, 22-year-old Eric Morgan, who prosecutors say was driving the vehicle, was also arrested. He faces gun charges and an obstruction of justice charge. Both were being held in Cook County Jail without bail. Associated Press

Public Safety News

CDC: Unvaccinated LA County Residents 29 Times More Likely To Be Hospitalized From COVID-19
A new study released Tuesday that analyzed COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles County found that unvaccinated residents were 29 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also found that unvaccinated people were five times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals. Additionally, the CDC found that more than 25% of new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County between May and July of 2021 were among fully vaccinated people. During May 1–July 25, 2021, of the 43,127 COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, 10,895 (25.3%) were in fully vaccinated people, 1,431 (3.3%) were in partially vaccinated people and 30,801 (71.4%) were among unvaccinated people, according to the CDC. FOX 11

LA Health Experts Hope FDA Approval Of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Curbs Hesitancy
With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine receiving full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the medical community in Los Angeles hopes the move will lead to more residents rolling up their sleeves to get the shot. Long lines formed at Kedren Health in South L.A. Monday night as people waited to get vaccinated or tested. One woman said she thinks FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine will encourage more to get vaccinated. "A lot of people have been waiting for the approval, and now that they have the stamp there should be no fear," said Joyce Lee. Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of Kedren Vaccines, said he's seen an increase in vaccine appointment since the FDA approval. "This is a great window for everyone who's been a little hesitant, maybe just needing that extra nudge," Abraham said. "This FDA approval may be just that for some people." Dr. Ilan Shabiro of L.A. Care Health Plan said he expects to see a big jump in vaccinations in the coming weeks. The changes come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is beginning to suggest a third dose of the COVID vaccine for the immunocompromised. ABC 7

L.A. Officials Encourage Angelenos To Be Prepared Amid Record-Setting Fire Season
With more than 1 million acres burned across California already in 2021, Los Angeles leaders on Monday urged residents to protect themselves and their property ahead of Southern California's wildfire season. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who appeared with Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, said property owners should clear brush around their homes and digitize important papers or keep them at the ready in case evacuation orders come. “This should be a year-round enterprise, now that fires are year-round as well,” Garcetti said. Although Northern California has already seen excessive wildfires this year, the southern part of the state's fire season typically spans October through December. Some of the region's most destructive blazes — including the Woolsey, Thomas, Creek and Skirball fires — ignited in November and December. KTLA 5

SoCal Smoke Advisory Issued for Northern, Central California Wildfires
Air pollution regulators issued an advisory through at least Thursday morning, as winds are expected to bring smoke from massive wildfires burning in northern and central California. “While smoke will be present in the upper atmosphere across the region, the greatest impacts on surface air quality are expected in mountain areas and (the) Coachella Valley,” the South Coast Air Quality Management District said. According to AQMD officials, the Air Quality Index may reach unhealthy levels in the East San Gabriel Valley and San Gabriel Mountains, the Pomona-Walnut Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley. Breathing in fine particulate matter can lead to a wide variety of cardiovascular and respiratory health effects such as heart attacks, asthma aggravation, decreased lung function, coughing or difficulty breathing and may lead to premature death in people with heart or lung disease. The AQMD advises people to close all windows and doors and run an air conditioner and/or an air purifier. People should also avoid burning wood in a fireplace or firepit, minimize sources of indoor air pollution such as candles, incense, pan-frying and grilling, and limit the use of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment. CBS 2

Pentagon Approves Extending Wildfire Surveillance Program
The Pentagon has agreed to temporarily extend a program that gives wildland firefighters access to military satellite data, according to Rep. Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The move follows weeks of pressure from members of Congress as the initiative's expiration date neared. The program, called FireGuard, is hugely popular among federal and state fire commanders throughout the West, who have come to rely on military and government satellite imagery to help them make on-the-ground decisions about strategy and evacuations. It was scheduled to end on Sept. 30, just as California's wildfire season typically becomes more active, and the Pentagon was reluctant to renew it. Concerned about what the program's lapse would mean for firefighters, 31 Democrats from California wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this month, demanding that the Defense Department commit to continuing FireGuard on a permanent basis. Gov. Gavin Newsom publicly asked President Biden to ensure the program's survival, calling it a “critical tool.” Biden pledged to take up the issue. The Pentagon agreed to renew FireGuard's authorization for one year, according to Schiff (D-Burbank). Los Angeles Times

Local Government News

Joe Buscaino Seeks To Prohibit Homeless Camping At 11 LA Locations
City Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a resolution Tuesday to prohibit encampments in 11 locations in his southwest Los Angeles district that are in close proximity to housing options and other resources for the homeless. “The Los Angeles City Council and the mayor promised residents that if they accepted solutions to homelessness then the areas around these sites would be kept clean and free of encampments,” Buscaino said in a statement before introducing the resolution, which was seconded by Councilman Paul Koretz. “It should not have taken this long to fulfill that promise, but at least the Council is finally making progress toward balanced policies to keep our streets and sidewalks passable and safe,” he continued. Buscaino is the first council member to introduce such a resolution following the council's recent approval of a sweeping ordinance that modifies the city's current anti-camping law. Starting Sept. 3, the ordinance will prohibit sitting, sleeping, lying, storing personal property or otherwise obstructing the public right of way in several areas of the city, including within two feet of any fire hydrant or fire plug; within five feet of any operational or utilizable entrance or exit; within 10 feet of a loading dock or driveway; in a manner that interferes with any activity for which the city has issued a permit or restricts accessible passage as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; or anywhere within a street, including bike paths.

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: