L.A. Now
California: This just in
Man held in 1989 slaying of transgender woman in Santa Ana

A 63-year-old retiree was being held Thursday in connection with the fatal stabbing of a transgender woman in 1989, a cold case that authorities say was revived through advances in forensic technology.

Douglas Gregory Gutridge, a Lodi resident, is being held on suspicion of murder in the death of Carla Salazar, according to the Orange County district attorney.

Gutridge was an early suspect in the case after talking with Santa Ana police detectives, but authorities said they never had enough evidence to file charges against him.

The case was revived after the creation of the Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force, which used DNA evidence and fresh interviews with witnesses and police detectives to build a case, prosecutors said.

Gutridge was arrested at his Central Valley home on Dec. 9 and is now held in Santa Ana on $1-million bail.

Salazar was killed June 28, 1989, in her fourth floor apartment in Santa Ana and may have been seen earlier that evening in an elevator with a man,...

Read more
Crash at church Christmas concert: Boy trapped under tire, witness says

When a driver plowed into a crowd after a school Christmas concert in Redondo Beach, a boy was trapped under the tire of a car and witnesses scrambled to free him.

"It was a little boy and the left front tire was on top of him," said witness Michael Tovar, 61, of Lomita.

"I thought it was a jacket lying on the ground."

Tovar, who had just watched his granddaughter sing in the Christmas concert at St. James Catholic Church, said a man started screaming, “We've got to move the car! We've got to move the car!”

Tovar said that after he helped to free the boy, two men knelt next to the child and covered him. The Lomita man then looked around and saw  people he had seen tossed into the air just moments before now receiving care.

Three women were killed and a child and adult critically injured when a car driven by 56-year-old Margo Bronstein ran into the crowd outside St. James.

Thirteen people, including Bronstein, were injured or killed in the crash. Five children, ages 5 to 14, were among...

Read more
Women killed in crash at church had gone to see kids, grandkids perform

The three women killed in a crash outside a Redondo Beach Catholic church had all come to see children and grandchildren perform in the Christmas concert held there Wednesday night.

Martha Gaza's five-member immediate family was struck by the car that rammed into a crowd leaving the celebration at St. James Catholic Church. The 36-year-old Torrance mom died.

The crash also left two people critically injured, including a child.

"Three kids woke up today without a mommy," said church member Anna Henkel on Thursday morning outside the church, "and that's what's killing me."

Gaza's three children attend the school at St. James. Her youngest child, a kindergartner, was in critical condition Thursday, and her husband remained hospitalized, Valencia said.

Also killed in the crash were Mary Ann Wilson, 81, and Saeko Matsumura, 87, both of Torrance.

Wilson's daughter Donna, 55, sat at home Thursday near a Christmas tree hung with ornaments and tinsel and remembered decorating the tree with her...

Read more
Christmas concert crash: Driver may have been using prescriptions, police say

Police believe a driver who plowed into a crowd of people leaving a Christmas concert at a Redondo Beach church, killing three, had prescription drugs in her system.

Three women were killed, a child and an adult were critically injured and seven others were hurt Wednesday night when a car rammed into the group as they left the evening event at St. James Catholic Church. The car's driver, Margo Bronstein, 56, of Redondo Beach is currently jailed on $300,000 bail and is expected to appear in court Friday. She suffered minor injuries in the incident.

Redondo Beach police Lt. Joe Hoffman said Thursday that investigators believe Bronstein had prescription drugs in her system after evaluating her at the scene, although no medications were found in her car. Police await results from a toxicology report to make a final determination.

According to Department of Motor Vehicles records, Bronstein had a clean driving history. She did, however, have specific driving restrictions, including having...

Read more
Agreement reached in Malibu beach access dispute

In a victory for public beach access, the owner of Paradise Cove in Malibu has agreed to stop charging a $20 walk-in fee, to remove all signs banning surfing and to unlock a gate to the pier, the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission said Thursday.

The resolution resolves a long-running dispute with Kissel Co., which operates as Paradise Cove Land Co. Under the resolution, the company will continue charging a $40 parking fee. 

The agreement is effective immediately and the gate is unlocked.

The agencies sent letters dated Oct. 31 to the company, saying it was violating the state Coastal Act and the terms of its state lease for the Paradise Cove pier. They had threatened to impose fines of $11,250 a day.

“This is a triumph for public access and proof that the threat of fines is a very effective enforcement tool,” said Coastal Commission Chairman Steve Kinsey. “We’ve never seen a violation of this magnitude resolved so quickly. Christmas came early for the coast...

Read more
Earthquake early warnings could go public in 2 years

An earthquake early-warning system could be available to the public in as little as two years once enough funding is secured, a top federal scientist said this week.

The U.S. Congress just approved $5 million to develop earthquake an early-warning system, but officials said they need $16.1 million a year to fully build out the system and maintain it for California, Oregon and Washington state.

“It’s our estimate that once the full funding arrives, we’ll be able to roll out to the public release in about two years,” Doug Given, earthquake early warning coordinator for the USGS, told reporters at Caltech on Monday.

The two years are needed to buy and install earthquake sensor stations along the West Coast, test the computer software and teach the public what to do when they receive the alert.

Without the $5 million in congressional funding, scientists would have run out of money by summer 2015. The scientists had been using a $6-million grant from the Palo Alto-based Gordon and Betty...

Read more