L.A. Now
California: This just in
Burbank man recalls being chased by a pack of coyotes

When Burbank resident Nick Mendoza walks his dog now, he carries a softball bat. 

That’s because earlier this week, while taking his dog, Kody Bear, on a walk in his neighborhood near 5th Street and Walnut Avenue, the 47-year-old was chased by a large pack of coyotes, the Burbank Leader reported.

A few days before, he’d seen a smaller pack of coyotes in the neighborhood devouring an animal. While a survey of the neighborhood didn’t yield any missing pets, “it was loud, something got eaten,” he said. The coyotes left once a Burbank police cruiser came and shined its lights, he recalled. 

Growing up, the Burbank native frequently saw packs of up to four coyotes around the neighborhood, but they’d usually scatter and run away if he yelled or threw a rock toward them.

But at 3 a.m. Wednesday, Mendoza took a break from working at his computer to take his 8-year-old, 135-pound Newfoundland out for a walk when he noticed five coyotes slowly advancing toward him from behind. Further out, he...

Read more
Actor Michael Jace waives right to preliminary hearing in murder case

"The Shield" actor Michael Jace, who is accused of shooting his wife to death in May, in court Friday waived his right to a preliminary hearing, officials said.

The move essentially means Jace's attorneys admit there is enough evidence to go to trial, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. His next court date is Aug. 15.

Jace is charged with the May 19 murder of his 40-year-old wife, April Jace.

April Jace, a well-liked financial aid counselor at Biola University, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her upper torso, police said.

Neighbors reportedly saw him drive up to their Hyde Park home, enter and leave the front door partially open. Minutes later, a neighbor heard popping sounds and took cover.

Authorities said he called police, saying he had just shot his wife to death.

Michael Jace was unarmed when police arrived at their home.

The couple's children, who were inside the home when she was killed, were not injured.

For breaking news in...

Read more
Two L.A. school police officers expected to survive crash injuries

Two Los Angeles Unified School Police officers whose patrol car collided with a dump truck Friday near a campus in Sun Valley did not sustain life-threatening injuries, officials said.

The front end of the officers' cruiser was left heavily crumpled in the collision with a large dump truck at  8:17 a.m. near Richard E. Byrd Middle School in the 8500 block of Arleta Avenue.

Los Angeles firefighters had to cut the officers from the wrecked cruiser. They were rushed to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where they were listed in critical condition.

School Police Sgt. Stephen Mayoral said Chief Steven K. Zipperman was with both officers at the hospital and that, despite initially being described as critical, the officers' injuries were no longer considered life threatening.

Los Angeles Police's Valley Traffic Division is investigating the collision. A third person, the truck driver, was apparently injured, but declined medical attention, according to Los Angeles Fire...

Read more
LAPD's Beck says community partnerships vital to school campus safety

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called Friday for an investment in community partnerships to keep school campuses safe at an event of educators, university security officials, professors and others.

Addressing a sold-out crowd of the Campus Safety Conference at the Radisson Hotel near USC, Beck emphasized the importance of establishing key relationships and having a plan in place to keep everyone safe should a crisis arise.

“It’s not the work that is glamorized in media. It’s not always the chasing of evil. It’s putting money in the bank -- putting money into that bank of trust, putting money into the bank of preparation -- so when you need to draw on it, and you will, there’s something there,” Beck said. “We don’t live in a world of ‘if.’ We live in a world of ‘when.’”

His words rang especially true to attendees. Last week, 24-year-old Xinran Ji, a USC graduate student, was assaulted and killed near campus. Four teenagers were arrested and charged with capital murder in the case.

At least 10...

Read more
Police dog bites LAPD officer during search for shotgun

A veteran Los Angeles police officer was severely injured Thursday when a police dog bit him in the calf during a search for a missing shotgun in South L.A., department officials said.

Officers were searching streets near South Vermont Avenue and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after a locking mechanism broke and the shotgun fell off a police motorcycle sometime Thursday afternoon.

The police dog was brought in to help with the search, LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman said, and at some point bit the patrol officer. 

The dog bit a significant part of the officer's leg, officials said. His partner used a first-aid trauma kit -- one of 8,000 the Police Commission approved for officers earlier this year -- to make a tourniquet that one LAPD official said likely saved the officer's life.

Neiman said it was unclear what may have triggered the bite.

The officer was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery.

At a campus safety event at USC on Friday morning, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck mentioned that...

Read more
Nearly 1,000 lightning strikes spark wildfires in Northern California

Nearly 1,000 lightning strikes were recorded across Northern California this week, sparking numerous brush fires, including a 7,000-acre blaze in Modoc County, officials reported.

The lightning storm, which moved through the region Wednesday, dumped little rain, but ignited at least 26 fires in Siskiyou County with the largest blaze at least 150 acres, according to the U.S. National Forest Service.

The wildfire in Modoc County started shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday two miles north of the community of Day.

Dubbed the Day fire, it was only 5% contained and threatened 200 structures, prompting mandatory evacuations from Schneider Ranch Road to the northern end of Day Road, according to the California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection.

More than 680 fire personnel have been assigned to the wildfire, which is burning in mixed brush and heavy timber in the Lassen National Forest and in private land in Modoc County.

Bolts of lightning connecting with tindery dry brush have made for a...

Read more
Man held in double shooting in Rossmoor, one victim clings to life

A 72-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of shooting his two adult step-grandchildren after an apparent argument at their home in normally quiet Rossmoor, authorities said Friday.

Michael Molle allegedly shot his step-grandson and step-granddaughter inside their home in the 2800 block of Tucker Lane at 8:25 p.m., the Orange County Sheriff's Department said.

Investigators declined to provide details about the dispute that led up to the alleged Thursday evening shootings.

Both victims were taken to local hospitals. The male victim was released, but the female victim remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

A handgun believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered at the home, police said.

Molle was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and is being held at Orange County Jail on $500,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at...

Read more
Prolific L.A. serial killer sentenced to death a second time

Serial killer Chester Dewayne Turner, already on death row for killing 10 women, on Friday was sentenced to death a second time for the deaths of four more women, prosecutors said.

Turner, 47,  is one of Los Angeles' most prolific serial killers, a man once described by prosecutors as a savage sexual predator fixated on violence.

Maxine Johnson, whose sister, Cynthia Johnson, was one of four additional victims, was relieved by the sentence, which she said ensures Turner will be kept "out of civilization."

"He did all the victims wrong," she said. "He's a monster."

Turner was convicted June 19 after a jury found him guilty on four counts of first-degree murder.

Shortly after, jurors heard testimony from the victims' families during a penalty phase, and recommended the death sentence. 

Turner was charged in 2011 after DNA evidence connected him to the 1997 slaying of Cynthia Johnson, whose body was found dumped near a church in the Green Meadows neighborhood.

He was eventually charged...

Read more
Man convicted of pimping girl, 16, in Southern California

A 37-year-old man was convicted Thursday of luring a teenage girl from her home in Oakland and then pimping her out as a prostitute as they traveled through Southern California, authorities said.

A jury found Rufus McNeely guilty of trafficking a minor for sex, pandering and pimping, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Prosecutors said McNeely pimped out the 16-year-old girl in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties after luring her away from her home last September.

The girl eventually called the police and reported what was happening. McNeely was arrested in October.

At the time of his arrest, McNeely was also being investigated in connection with the pimping of a woman in El Monte in 2012. His involvement with the teen and new evidence helped prosecutors charge him in connection with the El Monte case, according to the district attorney's office.

McNeely is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17. He faces a maximum of 30 years to life in state...

Read more
Southbound 5 Freeway reopens near Norwalk after big rig fire

All lanes of the southbound 5 Freeway near Norwalk have reopened after a big rig jackknifed Friday morning and caught fire near Florence Avenue.

The crash occurred about 5:30 a.m. and stopped traffic for more than two hours. One lane was reopened by 8:15 a.m. and the rest followed just after 10 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol logs. The transition from the 605 Freeway to the southbound 5 was also closed for most of the morning.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire near Florence Avenue since the big rig did not appear to have been involved in a collision, according to aerial television footage, which showed the burned out trailer jackknifed across three lanes.

Flames from the big rig also spread to a nearby construction site.

No injuries were reported.

Another fiery big rig crash on the 710 Freeway near Lynwood early Friday prompted the closure of two northbound lanes shortly after 1:30 a.m. The driver of that truck was killed, authorities said.

All lanes have...

Read more
Bell corruption case ends, last defendant gets a year in jail

The final defendant in the Bell corruption case was sentenced Friday to a year in Los Angeles County jail, bringing to an end a criminal case that became a national symbol of municipal greed.

Victor Bello, a onetime phone jack installer who earned nearly $100,000 a year for his part-time duties as a councilman in one of the county’s poorest cities, was ordered to serve five years' probation, put in 500 hours of community service and pay $177,000 in restitution.

He is the last of the seven city officials to be punished for lavishing themselves with huge salaries and generous benefits while the city edged toward insolvency.

His punishment was in line with the sentences handed down to his former council colleagues but far less than the four-year prison term prosecutors had requested.

Bello’s case was unique among the former council members because he alone had approached district attorney’s investigators about financial irregularities in the small city months before The Times exposed the...

Read more
2 L.A. school police officers seriously injured in collision

Two Los Angeles Unified School Police officers were airlifted to a local trauma center Friday after their patrol car collided with a dump truck near a campus in Sun Valley, officials said.

Few details about the crash were immediately available, but it occurred about 8:17 a.m. near Richard E. Byrd Middle School in the 8500 block of Arleta Avenue.



An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the officers as being with the Los Angeles Police Department. They are with the Los Angeles Unified School Police, which is a separate department.


The officers were taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where they were listed in critical condition.

A third person was injured, but declined medical attention, according to Los Angeles Fire spokesman Erik Scott.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.


Read more