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

January 4, 2022
Law Enforcement News

Homicides Rising In Watts, But Residents Say Violence Far From The Only Story
Seven men and one woman were shot to death in Nickerson Gardens in 2021, and Chica Caldwell knew them all. Rodney Laird, she said, “was an awesome dad,” “a hands-on father.” And Timonhy Raynea Lee? “She was a real good young lady,” Caldwell said. “Just came and was hanging out on her normal day and tragedy hit.” Nickerson Gardens is the largest public housing project west of the Mississippi River, and Caldwell is president of its resident advisory council. She has lived here for 14 years, raised four children and three foster children here. She would not live anywhere else. “When I walk in Nickerson Gardens, I feel safe, because I empty my trash at 11 p.m. and nobody bothers me at all,” the 45-year-old said, as she took a quick break from working a Christmas party for the complex's elderly residents. “My kids, they play in the backyard. … Nobody's scared, even though crime might be up.” Homicide is definitely up. In Nickerson Gardens, where more people were shot to death in 2021 than in the previous three years put together. In Watts, where the low-slung yellow development takes up 55 dusty acres. In Los Angeles County. And in the U.S. as a whole. Data from the Los Angeles County coroner's office compiled by The Times tally 22 homicides in Watts from January through November, nearly double the number for the same period a year earlier. That's more than a fivefold increase from 2018, when just four homicides occurred in the neighborhood. Since the pandemic began, crime has become a polarizing issue, an angry stew of race, class and socioeconomics. In this South L.A. enclave, the jump in deadly violence is more painful and complicated than the headlines and political bombast that followed a string of smash-and-grab robberies in high-end boutiques. Los Angeles Times

Trader Joe's Heists: Huntington Park Man Sentenced To 21 Years In Prison
A Huntington Park man was sentenced Monday to 21 years behind bars for carrying out a string of armed robberies or attempted armed robberies of Trader Joe's markets in Los Angeles and Orange counties -- and enlisted his son as the getaway driver in two of the heists. Gregory Johnson, 44, pleaded guilty in May to one federal count each of interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Johnson admitted that during a three-month crime spree starting in August 2020, he committed armed robberies of Trader Joe's grocery stores in Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Glendale, Pasadena, Monrovia, San Dimas, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Cerritos, Brea, Santa Ana, Agoura Hills, Tustin and Irvine. The defendant admitted that during a four-month crime spree starting in August 2020, he robbed Trader Joe's stores in Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Pasadena, Culver City, Rancho Palos Verdes, Agoura Hills, Brea, Santa Ana, Tustin and Chino Hills, and attempted to rob locations in Simi Valley and Corona. During many of the robberies, Johnson brandished a handgun. On two occasions, he robbed stores in Rancho Palos Verdes and Brea, and returned weeks later to rob them again. FOX 11

Police Seek Help In Finding Suspect In Panorama City Killing
Authorities were seeking on Monday, Jan. 3, the public's help in finding the killer of a homeless man who was gunned down in Panorama City. Benito Garcia, 42, was shot about 2:10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 27, in the 13900 block of Saticoy Street, dying at a hospital three days later, the Los Angeles Police Department said. “The preliminary investigation revealed the victim was standing on the sidewalk when the suspect, who was involved in a verbal dispute with another man, approached the victim and shot him,” police said in a statement. Investigators said the shooting appeared to have been unprovoked. Following the shooting, the suspect stole a bicycle from a nearby homeless encampment and fled, according to police. Anyone with information on the crime was asked to contact homicide detectives at 818-374-9550 or, to report a tip anonymously, Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Los Angeles Daily News

Suspect Taken Into Custody Following Bizarre Pursuit Through Santa Monica Mountains
A suspect who led Los Angeles Police Department officers on a brief pursuit in a stolen SUV from the West Valley to Malibu was taken into custody Monday morning. Shortly after the pursuit began, the suspect came to a complete stop, temporarily ditched the vehicle where he dropped his phone. He then proceeded to get back into the vehicle and began off-roading in the hilly terrain. The slow-speed pursuit started in the West Valley around 10 a.m. before the suspect began to increase his speed, leading officers to Malibu through the Santa Monica Mountains. By 10:25 a.m., the suspect was in a standoff with officers. After a few minutes into the standoff, the suspect complied and was taken into custody just after 10:30 a.m. No one was injured in the incident.  FOX 11

Residents Express Mounting Concerns Over Safety Hazards at Venice Blvd Encampment
Residents who live near an encampment on Venice Boulevard say they are worried about hazardous conditions. A list of various issues was sent to Councilmember Mike Bonin's office and other city offices on Sunday. The list, along with photos, shows an extension cord across Venice Boulevard "stealing" electricity from city lights. According to the resident, it has "been like this for a week. Surprised it's still there." Also documented and highlighted is trash and junk blocking bike lanes as well as exposed propane next to exposed electrical lines as well as an abandoned vehicle. The encampment is located at 660 Venice Boulevard. WestSide Current

Man, 58, Reported Missing Near South Los Angeles
Authorities continued their search Sunday for a 58- year-old man diagnosed with schizophrenia who was last seen in the unincorporated Westmont area near South Los Angeles. Masugo Kawahara was last seen at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 in the 1400 block of West 106th Street near Normandie Avenue, according to Deputy Alejandra Parra of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Information Bureau. Kawahara is Asian, 5-feet-2 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and a gray jacket, and was possibly heading toward Canoga Park. Anyone with information on Kawahara's whereabouts was asked to call the Sheriff's Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called into Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online. CBS 2

Man, 59, Missing In East Los Angeles
Sheriff's detectives continued searching Sunday for a 59-year-old diabetic man who was reported missing in East Los Angeles. Luis Armando Perez was last seen about 6 a.m. last Sunday in the 1200 block of South Arizona Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Perez is Hispanic. He stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has short black hair, brown eyes, a gray mustache and no teeth. He was last seen wearing a black-and-white jacket and black pants. Anyone with information on Perez's whereabouts was asked to contact the LASD Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Police Seek Suspects Who Robbed Culver City 7-Eleven At Gunpoint On NYE
Authorities Monday sought the public's help to identify two suspects who robbed a Culver City 7-Eleven convenience store on New Year's Eve. One of the two men entered the store located at 5495 Sepulveda Blvd., near El Marino Park, about 1:10 a.m. Friday and pointed a black handgun at a clerk while demanding money, while the second suspect stood outside of the store acting as a lookout, according to the Culver City Police Department. The clerk handed over money from the register and the armed man left the store, fleeing with the lookout on foot in an unknown direction. The suspect with the gun was seen wearing blue surgical gloves and a black face covering with a black beanie, black jacket, red shirt and dark pants with a white strip on each leg. He was carrying a dark-colored backpack. The lookout was wearing blue surgical gloves and black face mask with a black hoodie, black pants and black and white shoes. Anyone with information on the robbery was asked to contact CCPD Sgt. Eddie Baskaron at 310-253-6316. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted at .

Woman Found Shot In Burbank Burbank Police were on the scene of a potential shooting which occurred on Sunday evening. The incident occurred on East Orange Grove Avenue in Burbank at around 7:30 p.m. A report from Burbank Police Department disclosed that when they arrived on scene, they found a woman suffering from a gunshot wound. She was transported to a nearby medical facility with non-life-threatening injuries. The report also indicated that authorities were not looking for a suspect in the incident, and that there is no threat to the public. An investigation is still ongoing. CBS 2

Man Wanted In Lancaster Bank Robbery
A man robbed a bank in Lancaster Monday, and authorities sought the public's help to find him. The man entered the bank in the area of West Avenue K and 12th Street West about 11 a.m., “simulated a firearm” and demanded cash from a clerk, according to the FBI's Los Angeles office. The suspect fled the scene following the robbery. No injuries were reported. The man was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, gray pants, black shoes and a black jacket. Anyone with information on the robbery was asked to contact the FBI at 310-477-6565. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222- 8477 or submitted online. CBS 2

As Capitol Riot Anniversary Nears, More Than 2 Dozen Southern Californians Still Face Charges
A year after thousands of pro-Trump supporters flooded the U.S. Capitol in a violent but ultimately failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's electoral victory, more than two-dozen Southern California residents are still facing criminal charges related to the insurrection. From those caught on camera walking through the halls of the Capitol building alongside a crowd of rioters to conservative activists alleged to having conspired to overrun Congressional leaders or attack the officers who tried to hold the crowd at bay, many Southern California residents have ended up in the midst of an unprecedented federal investigation that has so far led to criminal charges against more than 700 people nationwide. The full story of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot remains a work in progress, as ongoing federal investigations are still leading to a continuing string of criminal cases against alleged participants and organizers, and as a Congressional investigation is reportedly looking into the potential role of former President Donald Trump and his political allies. Los Angeles Daily News

San Francisco Confronts A Crime Wave Unusual Among U.S. Cities
It's the sentimental things people are desperate to recover: a child's notebook, a wooden cross, an Army backpack that survived two tours in Iraq. These are among the possessions Mark Dietrich has retrieved from curbsides here in recent months, hastily dumped evidence of the smash-and-grab burglaries and petty thefts that have become a feature of everyday life in the city. Dietrich is among an increasingly loud group of local activists who say such crime has spun out of control in San Francisco. “We have all asked ourselves, is it time to go?” he said. “Lots of people have just said, ‘I'm not putting up with this mess.'” Unlike nearly every other big U.S. city, San Francisco did not see a significant uptick in homicides during the pandemic. Instead, it has found itself in the grip of a different sort of crime wave. With security cameras everywhere, social media have exploded with videos of young men brazenly stuffing their backpacks with everything from beer to Tylenol or using drills to crack open people's garage doors. That has fed the impression that the city has become a lawless place and left residents bitterly divided over the roots of the problem and how to solve it. Los Angeles Times

California Supreme Court Rejects Early Releases For Violent Crime
The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that corrections officials need not consider earlier release for violent felons, even those whose primary offense is considered nonviolent under state law. The ruling stems from inmates' latest attempt to expand the application of an initiative championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by nearly two-thirds of voters in 2016. But the high court ruled that corrections officials acted properly in drafting regulations that “exclude from nonviolent offender early parole consideration any inmate who ‘is currently serving a term of incarceration for a ‘violent felony.'” The justices said that includes prisoners serving sentences for a combination of violent and nonviolent felonies. “In reaching this conclusion, we find the constitutional text (of the ballot initiative) is ambiguous,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on behalf of the court. However, the justices agreed with the corrections department's argument that “the ballot materials reveal that the voters intended to exclude any inmate currently serving a term for a violent felony from early parole consideration, regardless of whether such an inmate has also been convicted of a nonviolent felony.” The broadest interpretation of the lower court's finding to the contrary would have required earlier release consideration for the vast majority of inmates, the department argued, since most are serving time for both violent and nonviolent felonies. KTLA 5

Prosecutor Wants US Death Penalty For Police Shooting Pair
A prosecutor said Monday he'll ask the Justice Department to review the case of two people charged in the shootings of two police officers at a northern Illinois hotel with the intention of pursuing federal death penalty charges. Illinois is not a death penalty state, but the U.S. Attorney General can authorize the filing of a petition to seek the death penalty in a federal murder case under certain circumstances, Kankakee County State's Attorney Jim Rowe said during a bond hearing for Xandria Harris, 26, of Bradley in Kankakee County Circuit Court. “I will be submitting an official request to the U.S. Attorney General for the Central District of Illinois and to the U.S. Attorney General to review the first degree murder case pending against Darius Sullivan and Xandria Harris for federal murder charges, and pursue a federal sentence of death against both defendants,” Rowe said. Sullivan and Harris are charged with fatally shooting Bradley police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic, 49, and critically wounding her partner, Officer Tyler Bailey, 27, late Wednesday. Bailey is hospitalized at a Chicago-area hospital. The State's Attorney will also seek life sentences for both Sullivan and Harris as the existing state-level charges proceed, Rowe said. Associated Press

Man Shoots Fireworks At Oregon Officers, Tries To Detonate More Explosives
Springfield police took a man into custody Sunday morning after authorities said he repeatedly launched powerful fireworks at officers. The man had a supply of vintage blasting caps and “commercial-grade, mortar type fireworks,” police said. Police found the man on a local bike path after getting several early-morning complaints about gunshots. When officers tried to talk to him, the man allegedly began shooting the fireworks toward them and their patrol cars. The told police he wanted officers to shoot him, the department said, and officers were struck by portions of the exploding fireworks and the concussion of the explosions impacted their hearing. Officers finally got close enough to grab the man as he tried to ignite another firework. Members of the Eugene Police Department's bomb squad later arrived and found the man had a cache of old but still operable blasting caps, small but powerful explosives used to detonate larger explosives. Blasting caps become more sensitive as they degrade, to the point that even static electricity could ignite them. Had the man successfully lit one, it likely would have killed him immediately and threatened nearby officers, the Eugene bomb squad members said. PoliceOne

City Of Fort Worth Sees 27-Year High Homicide Toll
During a second consecutive year of a spasm of gun crime in Fort Worth, more people were intentionally killed by another person in the city in 2021 than in any year since 1994. With 118 homicide victims, Fort Worth struggled to tame exceptional violence and the attendant misery. An explanation for the 27-year record high and an understanding of why similar homicide increases have occurred elsewhere in the country is a focus of unsettled study in criminology circles. In 1986, Fort Worth recorded 202 homicides, its record high, as crack cocaine sales burgeoned. The motivations of the criminal killings last year were familiar. Fights. Arguments. Altercations. Disputes. Rage. Others occurred during robberies of drugs or were fueled by gang and domestic conflict, police said. Some of the victims were strangers with their killer and were slain as the assailant attempted to shoot someone else. As she steered a car around an apartment building on an evening in April, Hailey Watts could not have known of the danger in her path ahead. Watts was 18 and launching her adult life. Gunfire erupted around Watts and her boyfriend in a passenger seat as an assailant fired upon another target. Watts died in the parking lot. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Police Struggle To Deter Rising Catalytic Converter Thefts
In the tiny town of Lawrenceville, Virginia, a van owned by Poplar Mount Baptist Church was knocked out of commission for weeks after thieves cut the catalytic converter out of its exhaust system. Several months later, across town, a catalytic converter was ripped from a van owned by First Baptist Church. Similar crimes followed, targeting a total of 15 church vans and 13 other vehicles in town, part of a nationwide surge in thefts of catalytic converters. Thefts of the exhaust emission control devices have jumped over the past two years as prices for the precious metals they contain have skyrocketed. Thieves can expect to get anywhere from $50 to $300 if they sell the converters to scrap yards, which then sell them to recycling facilities to reclaim the precious metals inside, including platinum, palladium and rhodium. For victims, the costs of replacing a stolen catalytic converter can easily top $1,000 and make their vehicle undrivable for days or weeks as the part is ordered and installed. It can also leave owners feeling vulnerable. “Just to feel that the church property was invaded by thieves was disheartening,” said John Robinson, a member of Poplar Mount Baptist Church. Associated Press

Public Safety News

Firefighters Put Out Flames In Two Central-Alameda Homes
Flames damaged a two-story craftsman-style house and a nearby single-story residence in the Central-Alameda area of Los Angeles Monday morning. The fires were reported at 1:38 a.m. at 1712 E. 41st Place, said the Los Angeles Fire Department's Margaret Stewart. The initial call described a large outside fire that extended into two separate residences. The 47 firefighters had both fires out in 29 minutes and searched both structures to be sure no one was inside, Stewart said. “The second story of the two-story craftsman was too damaged to allow for a search.” No injuries were reported, she said.

LA County COVID Hospitalizations Surpass 2,000
The surge of COVID-19 infections continued to drive up hospitalizations as state figures reported on Monday show the number of virus-positive patients in Los Angeles County medical centers is above 2,000. According to the state, there were 2,168 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Sunday, with 302 of those patients in intensive care. "There's a lot of feeling of déj vu," said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, the medical director of the intensive care unit and pulmonary department at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. "A lot of people are apprehensive about what the next few weeks may hold." On Monday, the county Department of Public Health announced that the number of pediatric COVID patients -- while still relatively small -- increased by nearly 190% from Dec. 4-25, with children under 4 seeing the biggest pediatric increase. "As students return to the classroom, we all need to follow the public health safety measures in place to ensure our schools can open safely after the winter break,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Because higher community transmission creates additional challenges at our schools, everyone needs to do their part to slow the spread of the virus." ABC 7

L.A. County Faces Delays In Ambulance Response To 911 Calls As COVID-19 Strains Employees, Hospitals
Los Angeles County is beginning to see delays in ambulance response to 911 calls, as more employees are unable to work due to COVID-related illnesses and ambulances are forced to wait to offload patients at hospitals, health officials said Monday. “People should reach out to their physicians for suggestions to treat mild COVID symptoms,” the county Department of Health Services said in a statement to The Times. “Do not seek COVID testing at emergency departments but at established sites.” Meanwhile, hospitalizations of children with coronavirus infections in L.A. County have tripled in the last month. There were 3.25 times as many children up to age 4 hospitalized on Christmas than on Dec. 4. Over the same period, hospitalizations of 12- to 17-year-olds were 3 times higher, while those of 5- to 11-year-olds were 1.5 times higher. KTLA 5

No Burn Order In Effect Through Tuesday For Many Parts Of Southland
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a no-burn order for much of the Southland through Tuesday night due to a forecast of high air pollution in the area. Residents in the South Coast Air Basin are prohibited from burning wood, both indoors and outdoors through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. The South Coast Air Basin includes the non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and all of Orange County. The order does not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet, the Coachella Valley or the high desert. Homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat are also exempt from the requirement. Fine particles in wood smoke, also known as particulate matter or PM2.5, can get deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma. Residents can receive no-burn day notifications by signing up for Air Alerts via email or text at . CBS 2

Hospitals See Big Jumps In COVID-19 Patients, But This Surge Is Different From Last Winter
The number of coronavirus-positive patients has spiked dramatically across Southern California since Christmas — but some health officials are noting important differences in how the latest surge is playing out in hospitals compared with last winter's devastating wave. In Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, the coronavirus-positive patient count has more than doubled in the last nine days. And in L.A. and San Bernardino counties, the daily hospital census has surpassed the peak seen during last summer's spike. Some officials remain concerned that hospitals could still face challenges as the highly contagious Omicron variant infects people at what experts are calling an unprecedented rate. But there are signs that the crunch at a number of Southern California's hospitals may not be as severe as last year, before vaccines were widely available. Roughly two-thirds of patients who have tested positive at hospitals run by the L.A. County Department of Health Services were admitted for something other than the coronavirus, according to Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly. Los Angeles Times

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: