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

April 13, 2022
Law Enforcement News

17 L.A. Gangs Have Sent Out Crews To Follow And Rob City's Wealthiest, LAPD Says
More than a dozen Los Angeles gangs are targeting some of the city's wealthiest residents in a new and aggressive manner, sending out crews in multiple cars to find, follow and rob people driving high-end vehicles or wearing expensive jewelry, according to police. In many cases, they're making off with designer handbags, diamond-studded watches and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars — if not more — and then peddling them to black-market buyers who are willing to turn a blind eye to the underlying violence, police said. In some cases, suspects have been arrested but then released from custody, according to police, only to commit additional robberies. Those are among the conclusions of a Los Angeles Police Department task force convened at the end of last year to identify the cause of a sudden surge in “follow-home,” or “follow-off,” robberies, so called because victims are robbed soon after leaving luxury boutiques and hotels, ritzy restaurants, trendy nightclubs and other locations where the gangs are scouting for targets. According to Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who spearheads the task force, police have identified at least 17 gangs, most based out of South L.A. and operating independently, that are involved. There were 165 such robberies in 2021 and 56 so far this year, he said, including several over the weekend. The area with the most robberies during that time was the LAPD's Hollywood Division, with 50, followed by 46 in the Wilshire Division and 40 in the Central Division, which includes downtown. The Pacific Division had 17, West L.A. 15, North Hollywood 14 and Topanga 11. Los Angeles Times

‘I'm Livid': 13-Year-Old Who Stabbed Girl Multiple Times Gets Probation Under Gascón's Policy
For nearly a year and a half, 13-year-old Elisyannah Valdez had been the victim of bullying on social media by another 13-year-old girl. "She called me ugly, fat, she talked about my grandma, said my grandma's burning in hell and ‘F my dead grandma,'" Elisyannah said. Cassandra Cisneros told her daughter to ignore it. She remembers specifically saying, "You're going to have haters. She's jealous, you know, just block her or create a new account." Elisyannah did, but says the girl would find her online and continue the torment. Still, nothing prepared her for what was to come on April 26, 2021. The family had gone to Center Park in  Inglewood  for an afternoon of fun, when all of a sudden the girl who had been bullying Elisyannah was right in front of her and ready for a fight. Someone in the neighborhood pulled out a cell phone and captured the brawl. In that cell phone video, you can clearly see the two girls fighting, then Elisyannah getting stabbed. "She was stabbed three times and slashed once on her left arm," Cisneros said. The knife, "punctured her liver, her kidneys, her diaphragm and her pericardial sac." Those injuries caused internal bleeding. Doctors had to immediately operate on Elisyannah, who thought she was losing her life. The attacker was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of electronic harassment against a minor. Cisneros received an email from the prosecutor stating, "We filed appropriate charges on this case considering George Gascón's new emphasis on restorative justice as guided by the science and data." The final outcome: probation for Elisyannah's attacker.  FOX 11

Woman Run Over While Fleeing Robbers In Downtown Los Angeles
Police are searching for a pair of robbers who hit a woman with their car as she ran away from them in search of help Monday. It happened around noon near the intersection of 8th Street and Francisco Street in downtown Los Angeles. The woman had just left a jewelry store in the Jewelry District when her attackers began following her in a silver Dodge Challenger, police said. As she approached the intersection in her vehicle, one of the robbers approached her vehicle and shattered her driver-side window with some sort of tool. The woman tried to drive away from the robber, but was stopped by traffic. She left her vehicle and ran into the road while she called for help, but she was followed by the Challenger which accelerated and hit her as she ran. After she was on the ground, two men exited the car and grabbed the woman's Rolex watch which she had thrown away from her. One of the men was armed with a handgun, police said. Police said one of the men is 5 feet, 11 inches and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black sweatpants, white shoes and a ski mask. He is believed to have been armed with a semi-automatic handgun. The second suspect was wearing a black sweater and light blue jeans. Police said he was also in possession of a handgun. KTLA 5

LA Sees Spike In Follow-Home Robberies After Dip In March
Two suspects rammed a woman with a car after they chased down a woman to steal a Rolex watch in the latest instance of a long ling of brazen robberies gaining popularity throughout Los Angeles. "While I'm not encouraging to not wear their watches and jewelry," said Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore. "I am encouraging you to be mindful that this is occurring." Five follow-home robberies were reported in Los Angeles in the last 48 hours, the Los Angeles Police Department told the city's police commission during a teleconference Tuesday, marking an uptick in the trend that previously decreased by 78% in March compared to its peak in November. "They're dangerous individuals and represent a real threat to our safety," said Moore. The phenomenon -- in which police say armed suspects follow victims from restaurants and shopping areas such as Melrose Avenue and the Jewelry District to rob them of jewelry, watches or vehicles -- was "almost unheard of" before last year, according to Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who leads the Follow Home Robbery Task Force created in November. CBS 2

Los Angeles Man Arrested For Sex Crimes Against Children, Other Victims Sought
A 50-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested last week after detectives said he was engaging in “online sexually explicit communication” with a minor victim who lived in another state. Now investigators are looking for other possible victims. Joseph Gatt of Los Angeles was arrested on Wednesday, April 6, after authorities served a search warrant at his home near 3rd Street and La Jolla Avenue in Beverly Grove. Investigators from the LAPD's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force began investigating Gatt after they received a tip that he was engaged in sexually explicit communication with the minor victim. Gatt also had an outstanding felony warrant for a similar crime involving communication with a minor, police said. Investigators are now looking for any additional victims who may not have been contacted. Anyone with information about this case or any other alleged victims is encouraged to contact detective Denos Amarantos at 562-624-4027. You can also submit an anonymous tip at . If you have knowledge or suspicion about someone making inappropriate contact with a minor, or if you know of child sexual abuse material online, you are urged to contact local law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678. KTLA 5

27 LAPD Employees Have Long COVID, Chief Says
At least 27 Los Angeles Police Department employees have long COVID, the chief of police said Tuesday. Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday that all of those employees, who included sworn officers and civilian staff, were still suffering COVID-19 symptoms after first being infected with the virus “weeks or months ago.” He said all would continue to be considered “long-term COVID recoveries” until they're able to come back to work. “We will continue to ensure that they have ready access to the best medical advice and treatment as possible,” he told the commissioners. Among those employees, one officer has been recovering in a hospital since late last year, with Moore detailing his ongoing recovery at nearly every police commission meeting in 2022. Last week, Moore said the officer was still in “very serious condition.” Symptoms associated with long COVID include severe fatigue, which some have said prevents them from doing even everyday activities. Patients have also reported cognitive problems, like “brain fog,” as well as chest pains and shortness of breath. Los Angeles Daily News

Authorities Identify Man Killed In South Los Angeles Shooting
Authorities Tuesday identified a 29-year-old man who was killed in a shooting in South Los Angeles that also left a woman injured. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics were called about 1:30 p.m. Friday to the area of South Hoover Street and West 79th Street on reports of a collision and found Bruce Wright and the woman suffering from gunshot wounds in a car, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Wright was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds at the scene, while the woman was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm. A suspect vehicle described as a gray sedan was last seen fleeing the area eastbound on West 79th Street from Vermont Avenue, though no further information was available.

SoCal Police Respond To Brooklyn Subway Shooting
A number of police agencies around Southern California responded to the shooting at a subway station in Brooklyn, New York City Tuesday morning, expressing sympathy for those injured and reminding the public of their patrol efforts. The event, as of late Tuesday morning, appears to be an isolated incident in New York City, but SoCal police departments are monitoring the situation. The Los Angeles Police Department reminded the public Tuesday morning of its regular patrols through the city. "The LAPD is closely monitoring reports of a multiple victim shooting this morning at a subway train station in Brooklyn," the police department said on Twitter. "We're in contact with our local, state & federal partners, and as always, providing high visibility patrols throughout the city, including bus & rail stations." The LAPD did not mention extra patrols at this time. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department also told NBC4 that it is watching the situation in New York, but is not increasing its patrols at this time. "We are monitoring the situation in New York," the LASD said. "There is no increase for security at this time." Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed sympathy for the shooting victims in a public Twitter statement. NBC 4

Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves Who Crashed Into LASD Vehicle Charged
Two men suspected of stealing catalytic converters from parked cars, leading authorities on a high-speed chase and then crashing into a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy's vehicle last week appeared in court Tuesday. The two men have been identified as Vue Xiong, 31, of San Luis Obispo, and Fong Vang, 38, of Merced. Xiong and Vang were arrested last Saturday after the vehicle they were in crashed into a Sheriff's Department vehicle that was involved in an unrelated pursuit. Prior to the crash, authorities had been pursuing their vehicle on the 5 Freeway after a report of several catalytic converter thefts in the Santa Clarita Valley. The pursuit was ultimately called off as the van approached dangerous speeds, LASD officials said at the time. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office released new details about the arrest, including that their vehicle ran a red light before crashing into the deputy's cruiser, and that eight catalytic converters were recovered from inside the van. Xiong and Vang appeared in Los Angeles County Superior Court and were each charged with three felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of attempted grand theft, the DA's Office said. KTLA 5

Police Identify Additional Suspect In Sacramento Shooting
Sacramento police have identified an additional suspect in a mass shooting where the suspects are alleged to have street-gang affiliations. Police on Tuesday named Mtula Payton as one of five potential shooters involved in the K Street incident earlier this month. Six people were killed and 12 were wounded when more than 100 shots rang out on downtown area streets in the early morning hours Sunday, April 3. Police said the shooting stemmed from an altercation between two groups of men. Payton, 27, is wanted on multiple felony warrants including domestic violence and gun charges, police said in a press release. His whereabouts are unknown and police said they've exhausted all leads. Only one gun was recovered from the crime scene, police said. All others were removed before law enforcement arrived. Police said evidence indicates Payton, Smiley Martin and Dandrae Martin were among the shooters. Both Martin brothers were arrested. Smiley, the elder of the brothers, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds. A third suspect, Daviyonne Dawson, 31, was arrested for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. He was later released from custody after posting $500,000 bail. Police said the gun he was in possession of was not believed to be used in the crime.  FOX 11

Police Hunt Gunman Who Wounded 10 In Brooklyn Subway Attack
Police hunted late into the night for the gunman who opened fire Tuesday on a subway train in Brooklyn, an attack that left 10 people wounded by gunfire and once again interrupted New York City's long journey to post-pandemic normalcy. The search focused partly on a man who police say rented a van possibly connected to the violence. Investigators stressed they weren't sure whether the man, Frank R. James, was responsible for the shooting. But authorities were examining social media videos in which the 62-year-old decried the United States as a racist place awash in violence and sometimes railed against the city's mayor, Eric Adams. "This nation was born in violence, it's kept alive by violence or the threat thereof and it's going to die a violent death. There's nothing going to stop that," James said in one video. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the posts "concerning" and officials tightened security for Adams. The gunman sent off smoke grenades in a crowded subway car and then fired at least 33 shots with a 9 mm handgun, police said. Five gunshot victims were in critical condition but expected to survive. At least a dozen people who escaped gunshot wounds were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.  Associated Press

2 Killed, 10 Wounded In Iowa Nightclub Shooting
A shooting inside a crowded Cedar Rapids nightclub left a man and a woman dead and 10 people wounded early Sunday, authorities said. Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said investigators believe two men fired more than a dozen shots inside the Taboo Nightclub and Lounge just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday. He said officers who were just outside the club because of an earlier incident rushed inside just as 100-150 people streamed out of the bar and found the victims. Officers helped treat the people who were wounded and rushed several of the victims to hospitals in squad cars. The names of the man and woman who died were not released Sunday. Jerman said one of the people who were injured was in critical condition Sunday afternoon while the other injuries, which were all related to the gunfire, ranged from serious to minor. The gunmen likely escaped as the crowd rushed out of the nightclub. Police were searching for suspects Sunday afternoon and no arrests had been reported. Jerman said police haven't determined the motive for the shooting but investigators believe one of the victims was targeted. Associated Press

Kansas LEO Recalls Fight For Life After Being Shot In Face With Rifle
Wichita police officer Kyle Mellard sprung into action when he heard his sister's voice come over the radio. He was at the south Wichita home in minutes. "It happened to be my sister that was on that call. She's a cop too, so she was out there and she came on the radio screaming, 'Shots fired,'" Mellard said. It was just after 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Police had responded to a welfare check in the 500 block of West Carlyle. They suspected a possible domestic violence situation. What they found was a man in the shed, clutching an AR-15 style assault rifle. In bodycam footage from that night, officers can be heard telling Tyler Hodge twice to put down the weapon. Instead, he opened fire. "My throat was in my stomach, you know? Just like a sinking feeling," Mellard said. "It would have been that way if it had been any officer, but then on top of that, it's my sister." When Mellard arrived on the scene, he checked on his sister and told her to stay behind cover. No one knew exactly where the suspect had fled. Officers were already stationed on the west side of the house. Mellard took off on foot to secure the perimeter.  The Wichita Eagle

Video: Officer Tracks Down Kidnapping Suspect, Saves 9-Year-Old Boy
A Georgia man faces kidnapping charges after being accused of trying to steal a car while the owner's child was still inside, police said. Atlanta police responded to calls about the incident at around 8:45 a.m. on April 4, according to a news release from the Atlanta Police Department. The woman who called 911 said she got out of her car in the parking lot of a Goodwill location, where a man jumped into her still-running vehicle. Then, the man drove away with the woman's 9-year-old child in the back seat, the news release said. Officers from the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia State Police, Fulton County Sheriff's Office and Fulton County Police Department saturated the area, trying to locate the stolen car. Georgia State Police officers found the vehicle and immobilized it, preventing the driver from escaping, the release said. The driver was taken into police custody, and the child was reunited with his mother, the release said. The man now faces charges of kidnapping, cruelty toward children, and theft by taking, the release said. The child was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, but was unharmed, Atlanta Police Department Capt. Felicia Claxton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Charlotte Observer

UCLA Study: Overdose Deaths Among U.S. Teens Surged During The Pandemic Due To Fentanyl-Tainted Pills
A study from UCLA found that the rate of overdose deaths among U.S. teenagers nearly doubled in 2020, then went up again in the first half of 2021, compared with the decade before the pandemic. Researchers say the alarming spike in overdose deaths over the course of the pandemic was not due to increased drug use, but more dangerous drugs, particularly fentanyl-tainted counterfeit pills, and is the first time in recorded history that the teen drug death rate has seen such an exponential rise. "The increases are almost entirely due to illicit fentanyls, which are increasingly found in counterfeit pills," Dr. Joseph Friedman, the lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said. "These counterfeit pills are spreading across the nation, and teens may not realize they are dangerous." The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, used the CDC data to calculate drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population for adolescents age 14 to 18 between January 2010 to June 2021. The researchers found 518 deaths, or a rate of 2.4 per 100,000, among teens in 2010, and a steady rate of 492 deaths (2.36 per 100,000) each of the following years through 2019. In 2020, there was a sharp increase to 954 deaths (4.57 per 100,000), and that number jumped again to 1,146 deaths (5.49 per 100,000) in early 2021. CBS 2

Public Safety News

L.A. County COVID Cases Rising Again
After months of declining COVID-19 case numbers following the winter surge, Los Angeles County is once again seeing new case and test positivity rates increase, officials said Monday. The uptick is prompting renewed calls from officials for residents to get boosted against COVID-19 and practice caution during the spring holidays. “While outbreaks in many sectors remain low, Public Health cautions that gatherings for Ramadan, Passover, Easter and Spring Break could eventually lead to more cases and outbreaks,” the L.A. County Department of Public Health warned last week. The average number of daily new cases reported the last seven days has climbed to 960— a 23% increase from the average of 783 from the week before. Monday's 1.0% coronavirus test positivity rate is still considered low, but has been inching up in recent weeks, officials said. So far, COVID-19 deaths have remained low and hospitalization numbers are still stable in L.A. County, but Public Health warned that New York City and other parts of the country are starting to see small increases in hospitalizations a few weeks after infection numbers climbed. KTLA 5

Local Government News

LA City Council Declares Support For Chumash National Marine Sanctuary
The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday declared its support for a national marine sanctuary along the Central California Coast proposed by the Northern Chumash Tribal Council. The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary was proposed in 2015 and the Biden administration advanced the proposal in November, according to the council's resolution, which called it a “monumental step in a more than 40 year effort to preserve sacred Chumash cultural sites, unique coastal waters and biodiversity hotspots along the Central Coast of California.” According to its website, the sanctuary would preserve marine and cultural resources along 156 miles of the coast and safeguard the area from offshore oil expansion. It also estimates it would generate $23 million in economic activity and create 600 jobs. The resolution to declare the city's support for the designation was introduced by Councilmen Mitch O'Farrell and Paul Koretz last month and passed the City Council Tuesday 14-0, with Councilman John Lee absent. “Our waters, beaches and biodiversity are what make Los Angeles and all of Southern California unique and beautiful. We must do all we can to protect these local ecosystems, and we urge the federal government to approve this groundbreaking proposal from the Chumash,” O'Farrell said.

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: