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

September 3, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Man Killed In Watts Shooting Identified
The coroner's office Wednesday publicly identified a 26-year-old man killed in a likely gang-related shooting in which another man approached on foot and opened fire. The shooting was reported at 3:54 p.m. Saturday at 1526 E. 92nd St., near Compton Avenue, according to Officer D. Orris of the Los Angeles Police Department's Operations Center. Luvon Lucas, Jr. was approached on foot by a man in his 20s, who shot him and ran away, Orris said. Lucas was taken by paramedics to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The shooting was believed to be gang-related, Orris said.

Watch: Fantastic Four Deputies Save Toddler Who Fell Into Backyard Pool
Wendy Estrada remembers the terrifying moment she saw her 21-month-old daughter motionless in a relative's backyard pool. Family members were unaware Maddie followed her 5-year-old brother when he went outside around 6 p.m. Aug. 25 to get a ball at the home in Carson. “I went looking for her and found her in the pool upside-down and unresponsive,” said Estrada. “So, of course I started screaming.”A minute after the 911 call, four Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies who were nearby arrived at the home. Like a team of superheroes, they calmly worked together in a dramatic scene captured on a doorbell camera. The video shows deputies gently placing little Maddie's motionless body on a patch of grass in front of the home. She was not breathing and unresponsive, so deputies took life-saving measures and tried to clear water from her lungs with thrusts to her back. “There you go, come on. There you go, there you go,” one deputy can be heard, encouraging and comforting the child. At about the 25-second mark in the video below, Maddie's first sounds of life can be heard. First, a faint breath. Then, a reassuring cry. Maddie's mother teared up with emotion as she expressed gratitude. “They were amazing,” Estrada said. “I'm just very grateful.” Maddie was hospitalized for four days. She is back home and expected to make a full recovery. NBC 4

Suspect Arrested In South L.A. Hit-and-Run Crash Where Victim Was Fatally Struck, Dragged By Tow Truck
A man previously described as a person of interest has been arrested in a South Los Angeles hit-and-run crash where the victim was fatally struck and dragged by a tow truck. The crash occurred about 9:55 p.m. Aug. 11 near the intersection of Broadway and 54th Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Osvaldo Dominguez Flores, 55, was walking against the “don't walk” signal in a marked crosswalk on Broadway when a light-colored wrecker tow truck crashed into him. The victim was dragged 180 feet before he was dislodged and eventually declared dead at the scene. The driver stopped briefly after the crash, but continued driving without offering help. Last week, Javier Garcia, aka Turtle, was identified as a person of interest in the case, and he turned himself in Tuesday, officials said. An investigation revealed that he was the driver of the truck that struck Flores, but he declined to disclose the location of the tow truck involved in the crash. Meanwhile, detectives still want to talk to two other tow truck drivers that were with Garcia at a Mobil gas station at 243 West Slauson Avenue before the crash. Police on Thursday released video of the other tow truck drivers seen with the suspect. KTLA 5

2 People Shot In South LA, School Lockdowns Lifted
Two people were shot near schools in South Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, including a student who was wounded in the leg outside a high school, police say. One of the shootings was reported near Santee High School in South Los Angeles and the school has been placed on lockdown, officials say. A male student was shot in the leg. School police treated him with a tourniquet and he was transported to a local hospital. The shooting was reported around 2 p.m. in the area of 22nd Street near the school, according to the LAPD. The high school is located at 1921 Maple Ave. A second gunshot victim was located a few blocks away outside Maple Primary Center at Maple and 36th Street. Lockdowns at the two campuses were lifted shortly after 3 p.m. and two gunshot victims were transported to local hospitals, school police said. Police do not believe the shootings are necessarily connected to the schools but they are investigating. It has not been determined if the same suspect carried out both shootings. ABC 7

Suspect Arrested In COVID Protest Stabbing In Downtown LA
A suspect was arrested in connection with a stabbing that occurred last month during dueling demonstrations in downtown Los Angeles over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Details of the arrest, which was made Wednesday night, were not immediately released. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore announced the arrest during an appearance on KTLA5, noting that video from the scene of the Aug. 14 protests also captured a second stabbing, but that victim has not yet come forward. The protests occurred outside Los Angeles City Hall. Police said at the time the victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition, and three days later officers released photos of the suspect in hopes of tracking him down. Vaccine supporters had gathered for a “No Safe Space for Fascists” rally at the intersection of First and Spring streets, followed one hour later by a “Choose Freedom March” against “medical tyranny.” At the peak of the rallies, about 500 anti-vaccination protesters were on City Hall's South Lawn, and about 30 to 50 counter protesters were at First and Spring streets, according to police. The LAPD deployed 100 personnel to the event. Los Angeles Daily News

2 Men Beaten, Robbed In Hollywood By Suspects Wearing Ski Masks
Police were searching for at least three suspects who were wearing ski masks when they attacked two men in Hollywood Thursday morning, authorities said. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the beating and robbery occurred around 6 a.m. on Whitley Avenue between Hollywood Boulevard and Franklin Ave. The two men were reportedly returning home from a nightclub when they parked their car and were surrounded by the suspects wearing ski masks, witnesses said. The attack occurred while the men were still sitting inside the vehicle. One of the victims was pistol-whipped and suffered a head injury while the other victim sustained bruises after struggling with the robbers, LAPD said. Shortly after the attack, the suspects drove away from the scene in a white SUV. It is unknown if the victims were targeted and their names have not been released. LAPD investigators were canvassing the area for clues and surveillance footage. Anyone with information is asked to contact LAPD's Hollywood Station.  FOX 11

Los Angeles Homeless Man Recorded In Alleged Attack In Venice: ‘I Would Like To Go To Jail. I Live Outside'
A homeless advocate who has documented the unhoused residents of Los Angeles' Venice neighborhood for more than two decades was attacked by a homeless person Wednesday while filming, he told Fox News. Tony Vera Echevarria, 62, said he was at the beach to live-stream sanitation workers cleaning the area along the boardwalk. He was filming the trash trucks as they were leaving and some people giving out food to the homeless from about 100 feet away, he said. A homeless woman demanded him to stop and accused him of "stealing her information," prompting her boyfriend to attack, Echevarria said. "Keep in mind, I'm on their side," he told Fox News. "The guy went behind me and attacked me violently. So I maced him and then he went after another guy, a mentally ill guy. The whole thing was ugly." In a video of the incident posted online, a woman is seen following Echevarria as he's filming. The footage then switches to him being attacked by a man who is demanding his phone. Someone filming the incident warns the alleged attacker to stop or else he could face jail time. "I would like to go to jail. I live outside," he replies. Echevarria, a Venice resident and native New Yorker, is seen kicking the attacker in an effort to get him to stop. He said he pulled a leg muscle and the authorities were called. Los Angeles police officers responded to the scene and placed the man in handcuffs.   FOX News

Indecent Exposure Charges Filed Against Trans Woman Over L.A. Spa Incident
Prosecutors filed multiple counts of indecent exposure this week against a transgender woman whose alleged conduct was at the center of a viral video that sparked a pair of violent protests outside a spa in Westlake this summer, officials said Thursday. Darren Agee Merager was charged Monday with five counts of indecent exposure, relating to an incident inside the Wi Spa on June 23, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles Police Department. The next day, a viral video emerged alleging a customer had exposed their penis in front of people inside the Wi Spa. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment or provide a copy of the criminal complaint against Merager, whom police described as a 52-year-old Riverside County resident. Attempts to contact Merager were not immediately successful, though she denied all wrongdoing in an interview with the New York Post, which first reported the charges Thursday morning. Merager told the tabloid she is legally female and claimed that those making complaints to police were engaging in transphobic harassment. Los Angeles Times

Police Ask For Help In Locating Man Missing In Venice
A 26-year-old man is missing today and the Los Angeles Police Department's Missing Person Unit is asking for the public's help in finding him. Police say Elijah Kirkland -Andrews was last seen Aug. 26 in the area of Venice Beach. Kirkland-Andrews is black, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information about Kirkland-Andrews' whereabouts is asked to call the LAPD's Missing Persons Unit during business hours at 213-996-1800. After business hours and on weekends please contact 877-527-3247. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at . WestSide Current

Family Of 5 Allegedly Attacked By Two Homeless People With Machete In Malibu; Dad Loses Eye
An argument between a dad and two homeless people on a beach in Malibu took an extremely violent turn over the weekend, ending with the father losing an eye. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department responded to a call on Dan Blocker Beach on Sunday. Deputies were told a man was with four family members when they were approached by two suspects, both believed to be homeless. The two homeless people confronted the dad, saying they were not allowed in the area, sparking an argument between the three people. One of the suspects, later identified as Richard Franck, whipped out a machete and began slashing the dad multiple times. The other four family members were chased by Franck and the other homeless person, LASD said. Both suspects were eventually found and arrested. Both are being charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon. The dad – who also suffered cuts across his face, ears and tongue – was rushed to the hospital after the attack. The homeless crisis in Malibu continues to worsen. More crimes and fires have been reported recently-- all stemming from transients in the area. The community is holding a meeting Thursday night to discuss public safety concerns in Malibu. FOX 11

L.A. Cryptocurrency Promoter Pleads Guilty In $2 Billion ‘Textbook Ponzi Scheme'
A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in what prosecutors called a “textbook Ponzi scheme” that defrauded cryptocurrency investors worldwide of more than $2 billion. Prosecutors said Glenn Arcaro, 44, sat atop the North American branch of the pyramid investment scheme BitConnect, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Arcaro, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitted in his plea agreement to earning “no less than $24 million from the BitConnect fraud conspiracy,” the newspaper said. As part of his plea, Arcaro must pay back that money to investors. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 15. “The BitConnect scheme is believed to be the largest cryptocurrency fraud ever charged criminally,” the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. Arcaro's plea came the same day that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint against BitConnect, the Union-Tribune said. KTLA 5

Man Pleads Not Guilty In Retirement Home Employee's Killing
A man who police said was fired from his job at a retirement home in Burbank pleaded not guilty Thursday to fatally stabbing an employee at the facility. Paul Lawrence Dunbar Haney IV, 27, of San Fernando, is charged with murder and a knife-use allegation stemming from the July 30 attack on Moncerrat Vargas-Navarrete at Burbank Retirement Villa West, 1911 Grismer Ave., near North Glenoaks Boulevard. The 27-year-old woman died of a stab wound to the neck after being taken to a hospital, according to records from the coroner's office. “There is no indication that this is a random act of violence,” Burbank police said in a July 30 statement announcing Haney's arrest. “The suspect and victim knew each other. The suspect had been recently terminated from the business.” Responding police officers saw a man matching the suspect's description running from the area while armed with a knife, and detained him, according to police, who said witnesses identified him as the person involved in the stabbing. Haney has remained behind bars since his July 30 arrest, jail records show. He is due back in a Pasadena courthouse Oct. 18, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.

Ben Dugan Works For CVS. His Job Is Battling A $45 Billion Crime Spree.
Ben Dugan sat in an unmarked sedan in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood one day last September waiting for the CVS to be robbed. He tracked a man entering the store and watched as the thief stuffed more than $1,000 of allergy medicine into a trash bag, walked out and did the same at two other nearby stores, before loading them into a waiting van, Mr. Dugan recalled. The target was no ordinary shoplifter. He was part of a network of organized professionals, known as boosters, whom CVS had been monitoring for weeks. The company believed the group responsible for stealing almost $50 million in products over five years from dozens of stores in Northern California. The job for Mr. Dugan, CVS Health Corp.'s CVS, +1.46% top investigator, was to stop them. Retailers are spending millions a year to battle organized crime rings that steal from their stores in bulk and then peddle the goods online, often on Inc.'s AMZN, -0.46% retail platform, according to retail investigators, law-enforcement officers and court documents. It is a menace that has been supercharged by the pandemic and the rapid growth of online commerce that has accompanied it. WallStreet Journal

FBI Warns Of Ransomware Uptick Ahead Of Labor Day Holiday
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued an alert for consumers regarding an increase in ransomware attacks ahead of the upcoming Labor Day holiday. Both agencies say the ransomware attacks commonly occur during most holidays including the Fourth of July and want to make sure consumers are aware of the risks. "Cyber actors have conducted increasingly impactful attacks against U.S. entities on or around holiday weekends over the last several months. The FBI and CISA do not currently have specific information regarding cyber threats coinciding with upcoming holidays and weekends," the agencies wrote in a press release issued on Aug. 31. The agencies say cyber criminals view holidays as "attractive time frames," ripe for targeting potential victims including small and large businesses. The heavy holiday traffic distracting business owners appear to give criminals the perfect opportunity to send malicious malware in order to take advantage of most consumers. According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a source for reporting information on cyber threats, they received 791,790 complaints for a variety of internet crimes.  FOX 11

Connecticut Trooper Swept Away By Hurricane Ida Flooding Dies
A Connecticut state trooper has died after his cruiser was swept away during flooding caused by Hurricane Ida, reported FOX 61. According to NBC Connecticut, police received a call around 3:30 a.m. from the trooper, who said he was in distress and that his cruiser was being carried by floodwater. The call prompted a massive search that included nine fire departments, three airplanes and a dive team, The CT Mirror reported. Authorities quickly found the cruiser, but it took several more hours to find the trooper, according to the report. "This is the 25th line of duty death in the history of the Connecticut State Police, " Col. Stavros Mellekas said during a press conference. "We lost another member of our family." The trooper was identified as a 26-year veteran of the agency. Officials said they are withholding the trooper's name at the request of his family, according to FOX 61. Woodbury Fire Chief Janet Morgan said the cruiser was swept off a bridge and into the Pomperaug River.  PoliceOne

3 New Jersey LEOs Swept Away In Flooding Fired Guns To Signal For Help
The call was for a vehicle in floodwaters on Route 518 in Hopewell Township — one of many rescue calls in New Jersey Wednesday evening as storms from Hurricane Ida flooded the state. Police Officer James Hoffman went to check it out. Moments after arriving in the area, east of Route 31 at about 8:30 p.m., Hoffman turned into a victim. His patrol car started taking on water, then started floating away — sliding sideways about 100 yards into deeper water. Hoffman ditched his bulky duty vest, climbed through a window and started swimming. He found a tree and held on. It got worse, though, Hopewell Township Police Director Bob Karmazin told NJ Advance Media on Thursday morning. Two officers who went to assist Hoffman after he made a distress call — Michael Makwinski and Robert Voorhees — were also swept into the raging waters and also had to leave their vehicle. “These two officers were also swept much like the other,” Karmazin said. They too found trees to anchor themselves, Karmazin said. For nearly two hours, as rescue firefighters arrived from all over Mercer County to help township firefighters find the officers, the department dreaded the outcome. PoliceOne

Public Safety News

The Young Marines Wanted To Help. They Were The Last Americans To Die In The Afghanistan War
Shana Chappell scrolls through her smartphone, looking and looking for a video of her son, Kareem Nikoui. The one where he's entertaining the little Afghan girl, taking her mind off the chaos that surrounds them at the Kabul airport. There's a metal bucket on the porch of Chappell's Norco home half-filled with cigarette butts. Her voice is raspy, her eyes flat with fatigue. Finally, she finds it, near the message she sent him, “I need to hear from you.” She presses play. Holds out the phone. A brown-haired girl in a pink shirt and jeans smiles at the camera. A friendly voice rings out: “Say ‘hi' to the camera. Say ‘hi.' Wave.” “That's his voice,” she says, then she goes silent. Chappell has not slept for three days, not since she found out that her boy — the Marine corporal with the big heart, who loved jujitsu and boxing and going on the swings at a nearby park with his little brother Steven — was killed in the suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26. He was 20 years old. Nikoui was one of 13 U.S. troops who perished in the blast while helping frantic families leave their war-torn country. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County Sees Another 38 Coronavirus Deaths
Los Angeles County's coronavirus death toll continues to rise, with another 38 fatalities reported Wednesday, along with an additional 2,277 cases of COVID-19. Health officials say 90% of all COVID deaths during the pandemic occurred in people with underlying health conditions. The most common conditions were hypertension (present in 55% of fatalities), diabetes (43%) and heart disease (29%), according to the Los Angeles County Health Department. The percentages have seen little change since the beginning of March, when COVID vaccines became widely available. The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals dropped to 1,673 on Wednesday, down from 1,699 the previous day, according to state figures. That total including 446 people in intensive care, up two from Tuesday. The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus in Los Angeles County was 2.5% as of Tuesday, down from 2.9% a week ago. NBC 4

Delta Variant Concerns Remain In LA County Ahead Of Labor Day Weekend
Ahead of Labor Day weekend, Los Angeles County is seeing its hospitalizations and case rates start to decline, but the 43 deaths reported Thursday are a stark reminder of the highly infectious nature of the delta variant and vaccination hurdles that remain. The county continues to report relatively high daily numbers of deaths, as the 43 new fatalities reported due to COVID-19 bring the county's overall death toll from the pandemic to 25,364. "Our reported numbers yesterday and today are higher and we fear continued losses that are particularly difficult to bear because they are all just about preventable," said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer during an online media briefing Thursday. After weeks of precipitous increases, L.A. County is beginning to see decreases in weekly COVID-19 case numbers, but due to the delta variant, Ferrer said she's hesitant to proclaim the worst of the latest coronavirus surge over. ABC 7

Local Government News

New LA Law Goes Into Effect Restricting Homeless Encampments In Certain Areas
Los Angeles' new sweeping ordinance to restrict sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of the city goes into effect today after being approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti at the end of July. The law modifies the city's current anti-camping law in Municipal Code 41.18 to 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. It will also protect the public right of way within 500 feet of a ``sensitive'' facility (including schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries) once the council passes a resolution to designate a specific area for enforcement, posts signage and gives notice of the date that the ordinance will be enforced for the area. WestSide Current

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: