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Detectives Nab Burglary Ring

Los Angeles: A number of arrests have been made in connection with residential burglaries that occurred recently in the Van Nuys and West Valley areas of the San Fernando Valley.

In June, detectives from the LAPD Commercial Crimes, Division Field Enforcement Element (FEE) learned of the burglaries.  Area detectives developed information indicating that gang members from South Los Angeles were committing the crimes.

The suspects' willingness to employ violence became evident on June 27, 2006, when a Van Nuys burglary escalated to robbery/home invasion, during which a 94-year-old blind man was physically assaulted and injured by the burglars.

As part of the investigation, FEE members met with officers from the Southwest Area, Gang Impact Team and learned that gang members were involved in a wide assortment of crimes, including residential burglaries.

On July 5, 2006, their efforts paid off, when an individual under surveillance drove a rental vehicle to the intersection of 38th Street and Gramercy Place, in the Exposition Park area of South
Los Angeles, and was seen placing paper plates over the real license tags.  Officers followed the driver as he picked up two other young males in a known gang neighborhood.  Detectives followed the suspects from Southwest Los Angeles to the community of Reseda, in West Valley Area.  Officers witnessed the suspects select a residence at which no one was home; then two of them went to the rear of the residence.  The suspects made entry into the home, but soon exited and fled away when they realized they had been seen by a neighbor.

With the assistance of LAPD patrol units, detectives detained the vehicle.  Inside the car were an adult male, two male juveniles, burglar tools and the property taken from the just burglarized home.

Darnell Martin, 23, of Los Angeles, was arrested and charged with one count of residential burglary.  The two juveniles, both 17, were taken to Sylmar Juvenile Hall where petitions were filed against them. Investigators are reviewing other burglary cases for probable links to these suspects.

Questions may be directed to Media Relations Section.

Man Shot and Killed in Exposition Park Night Club

Los Angeles:  A man was shot and killed early Monday morning inside a night club in the Exposition Park area of South Los Angeles.

On September 25, 2006, around 12:50 a.m., Manuel Schofield, a male Black, 28, was a patron at Jessie's Social Club,  4630 South Vermont Avenue. He became involved in an apparent dispute with an unknown suspect. The suspect shot Schofield in the torso multiple times.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced the victim dead at 12:59 a.m.

There was no suspect description.  The suspect and weapon remain at large.

The LAPD is requesting the public's assistance in solving this crime. Anyone with information is asked to call 77th Homicide Detectives at 213-485-1383, during normal business hours. After hours and on weekends, phone the 24-hour toll free Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAW-FULL (1-877-529-3855).

Callers may remain anonymous.

Man Stabbed To Death in South Los Angeles

Los Angeles
: Police are requesting the public's help in solving a murder that occurred Saturday night in the Imperial Courts housing project in South Los Angeles.

On September 23, 2006, around 9:15 p.m., at 2021 East 115th Street, Marco Cole, 34, a male Black, became involved in an argument with another male Black. The suspect stabbed Cole for an unknown reason.

Mr. Cole was transported by Los Angeles City Fire Department paramedics to Harbor General UCLA Medical Center. He died from his injuries at 10:00 p.m.

The suspect and murder weapon remain at large.

Police are requesting the public's assistance in solving this crime. Anyone with information is asked to call Southeast Area Homicide Detective J. Zambos at 213-972-7849, during normal business hours. After hours and on weekends, phone the 24-hour toll free Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAW-FULL (1-877-529-3855).

Callers may remain anonymous.

Attack Dog Shot By Police Officers

Los Angeles: A violent pit bull that terrorized a family and charged peace officers was shot and killed by police.

On Wednesday, September 20, 2006, around 8:00 p.m., Southeast Area Officers Oscar Villarreal and Daniel Vizcaino where flagged down by a citizen who told them that a nearby pit bull had just bitten several people.

The citizen directed police to the front yard of a residence at 150 West 113th Street, in the Green Meadow area of South Los Angeles.  When officers arrived, they saw a male juvenile attempting to hold down an aggressive pit bull.  The dog belonged to the juvenile and was about to escape from its yard.  Officers gave the owner a hobble restraint, a device made of one-inch-thick nylon, that is commonly used to restrain combative suspects.  The dog's owner placed the restraint around the dog's neck and officers tied the dog to a chain link fence.

Even when secured to the fence, the dog's aggression increased.  Police requested a unit equipped with a beanbag shotgun respond to the location.  Southeast Sergeant Alma Burke arrived with a beanbag. Fearing that the dog was about to free himself, Burke fired one round from the beanbag shotgun, striking the animal.  The dog was not neutralized.

Ultimately the dog chewed through the hobble device and began running toward the officers. Burke fired a second beanbag round, which again failed to stop the animal.  Officer Vizcaino drew his service revolver and fired one round, striking the pit bull.  After being shot, the dog again attempted to advance toward officers.  Vizcaino fired a second round.  The dog fell and later died from its injuries.

The investigation revealed that the dog had attacked the juvenile's mother, father and younger brother, biting the mother on the face and her son on the right hand and left thigh.  All were treated for their injuries though none required hospitalization.

Officer Vizcaino is 32 and has 10 years with the Department.  Sergeant Burke is 32 and has been with the LAPD for 10 years.

Questions may be directed to Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.

Three-Year-Old Girl Murdered, Now Police Need Your Help

On Sunday, Sept. 24, three-year-old Kaitlyn Avila was shot and killed by suspected gang members in front of her Baldwin Village home.

Dscf4241The gunman, described as a black man in his early 20s, first opened fire on Cesar Avila, 24, the girl’s father. Today, Avila remains hospitalized in critical condition. The afternoon attack took place as Avila was helping his two daughters get out of their car. Kaitlyn’s five-year-old sister witnessed the shooting but was uninjured.

Chief Bratton, City and community leaders and several of the victim’s family members rallied Sept. 27 to condemn the violent act and seek community support in the apprehension of the assailants.

"This past Sunday a child was brutally murdered," said Chief Bratton. "By all accounts, this murder was in fact an execution. This senseless, unprovoked and cowardly act is a clear reminder that there are some among us whose only intention is to harm others."

City Councilman Herb Wesson said he will seek approval of a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the killer.

The gunman is described as being about six-feet tall and having two long, braided ponytails. The suspects fled in what witnesses described as a gray Nissan Quest minivan or a gray Chrysler 300 C.

Deputy Chief Charles Beck, South Bureau Commanding Officer, said the men identified themselves as gang members before shooting Avila and his youngest daughter. The men may have believed Avila belonged to a rival gang, but the father has no criminal history and there is no evidence that he is a gang member, Deputy Chief Beck added.

This is the first killing in Baldwin Village since November 2005. Detectives have very few leads and encourage anyone with information to call (877) 529-3855.

Officer-Involved Shooting of Warrant Suspect

Los Angeles: A suspect who was on probation and wanted for outstanding warrants led officers on a foot pursuit that ended in an officer-involved shooting Saturday.

On September 23, 2006, around 2:45 p.m., Northeast Area Officers Humberto Tovar and Luis Reyes responded to a report, received from an off-duty LAPD detective. The detective reported of a man with a handgun in the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles.

When the officers arrived at the 3400 block of Ferncroft Drive, they saw a suspect who matched the description.  As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, he looked in their direction and ran away.  Police gave chase and saw the suspect reaching for his waistband.  Holding a dark object in his hand, the man then turned toward the officers.

Officer Tovar fired his weapon, but the suspect was not hit.  The man submitted to arrest without further incident.

The suspect was later identified as 20-year-old Kelvin Hamilton Vasquez.  He was booked for Violation of Probation and outstanding warrants.  Vasquez was on probation for possession of a loaded concealed firearm.  No handgun was found.   

Officer Tovar is 38 and has been with the LAPD for 13 years.

Force Investigation Division is handling the investigation.  Questions may be directed to Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.

Burned Body of Murder Victim Found

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the murder of a 19-year-old man whose partially burned body was discovered Tuesday in Los Angeles.

On September 26, 2006, around 8:10 p.m., police and firefighters were dispatched to a car fire in the 5000 block of Slauson Avenue. After the fire was extinguished, investigators found the charred body of Jaime Julio Padilla. He was seated in his own car and apparently had been stabbed to death.

Police have no suspect leads.  The crime is believed to be gang related.

Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact Pacific Homicide Detectives at 310-482-6313. After hours or on weekends, call the 24-hour toll free Detective Information Desk at 1-877-LAW-FULL (1-877-529-3855).

The identities of callers wishing to remain anonymous shall be protected.

LAPD Hero Builds Cultural Bridges

Instrumental in bridging the cultural chasm between the Department and the Spanish-speaking community, Pedro M. Muñiz was one of five "Local Heroes" honored at an awards ceremony Sept. 21.

Union Bank of California and KCET selects honorees during respective heritage months for Hispanic Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans and African Americans. September marks Hispanic Heritage Month. Award recipients are selected for their commitment and contributions to the arts, business, education, social services, and community activism. Muñiz received the award in the category of social services.

In 2003, the Public Relations Specialist spearheaded a hard-hitting Spanish-language media campaign to foster public trust and support. In its third year, Muñiz’s groundbreaking approach to community outreach has brought criminals to justice and has strengthened ties between the Spanish-speaking population and the LAPD.

His dynamic leadership and pioneering efforts have achieved maximum exposure for the Department in millions of Spanish-speaking households via such influential organizations as Univision KMEX 34 and Telemundo KVEA 52.

Through his efforts, several suspects have been captured. For instance, a homicide suspect was apprehended after detectives appeared on Spanish-language television, prompting a flood of calls from the public. Similarly, the Department’s Fugitive Warrants Section captured three suspects following a public appeal made on television by a Spanish-speaking officer.

To date, Muñiz continues to coordinate weekly television interviews, monthly public service announcements, and television specials. He has also expanded the campaign to include radio broadcasts via Univision Radio Los Angeles, Spanish Broadcasting System, and others.

Among his work is Su Seguro Servidor, or Your Trusted Servant, which showcases Spanish-speaking police officers who are subject-matter experts. These officers deliver culturally relevant messages, including What to do When You Get Pulled Over; How to Start a Neighborhood Watch Program; Misuse of the 911 Emergency Line; Graffiti Prevention and Elimination; Gang Awareness; Gun Fire Reduction Program; Identity Theft; and Hate Crimes.

In a community often challenged by language barriers and distrust of law enforcement entities, Muñiz’s campaign has softened the image of police officers; improved community relations and quality of life; and ultimately reassured residents that police officers are protectors rather than persecutors. Moreover, the campaign has helped officers gain a better understanding and enhanced appreciation for the diversity of Los Angeles.

Recognizing the impact of his work, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) invited Muñiz to present the details of his campaign in a workshop at the 2005 IACP conference in Miami, attended by law enforcement personnel from around the globe. The workshop was titled, Improving Your Image in the Latino Community: How the LAPD Created Positive Partnerships with the Hispanic Media. Representatives from at least one other major U.S. city approached Muñiz to ask questions about implementing a similar campaign.

Among Muñiz’s other noteworthy contributions is the LAPD Essay Contest, which he began in 2004. The annual writing challenge advances education through literacy, prompting nearly 30,000 middle school students to take an analytical look at youth crime and law enforcement.

In collaboration with Univision KMEX 34 and La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Southern California, the initiative encourages contestants to engage in serious discussions with peers, teachers, and parents about issues such as drug use, gang activity and domestic violence.

The LAPD Essay Contest, open to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, promotes language arts, creativity, and proficiency.

Muñiz has gained support for the essay contest from a cross-section of Los Angeles organizations, including arts, business, and educational entities. Today, his campaign enjoys backing from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, the California Science Center, Wells Fargo Bank, and Polaroid, among others.

Muñiz, a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, is a Pico Rivera resident. He has been with the City of Los Angeles at the Police Department for five years.

COMPSTAT Citywide Profile

Crime Statistics September 23, 2006

                 2006*            2005*            % Chg

Homicide                              356              362               -2%
Rape                                     656              679              -3%
Robbery                            10,502           9,629               9%
Agg Assaults **                  10,542         11,613              -9%
Total Violent Crimes        22,056        22,283             -1%


Burglary                             14,401           15,613             -8%
BTFV                                  21,667           24,051           -10%
Personal/Other Theft          20,074           22,753           -12%
Auto Theft                         17,702           19,441             -9%
Total Property Crimes      73,844          81,858          -10%
Total Part I Crimes           95,900        104,141            -8%

* Both 2006 and 2005 crime categories represent Year-To-Date figures.  The 2005 figures are not annual totals. 

** Prior to 2005, Aggravated Assaults included Child/Spousal Simple Assaults

Shooting Results in Woman's Death

Los Angeles: A 19-year-old female was shot and killed while standing in front of her residence near 147th Street and Vermont Avenue.

On September 25, 2006, at about 9:00 pm, Beatrice Jimenez, was standing outside of her house, talking with her boyfriend.  Three male Hispanic suspects, in a small, white compact vehicle, pulled up to the curb and parked. Two of the suspects got out of the vehicle and began shooting at the victim and her boyfriend.

The unidentified suspects got back in their car and fled southbound on Vermont Avenue; Jimenez, who was struck by gunfire was transported to a local hospital where she died from her injuries. The boyfriend was uninjured.  A third victim, a male Asian who was standing in the 700 block of West 147th Street sustained a gunshot wound to his leg. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Meyers at 213-972-7856.  On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855). Callers may remain anonymous.