Rewards Approved for Information in Cypress Park and El Sereno Killings

August 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council approved a $50,000 reward in connection with the New Year’s Day fatal stabbing of 22-year-old Christian Nino in Cypress Park, and the killing last year of     Victor Duenas, 25, who was gunned down on his front porch in El Sereno.

Nino, 22, died after being stabbed once during a fight that was reported shortly after 2 am on Jan. 1 in the 2600 block of Jefferies Avenue, according to the LAPD. The suspects, described as male Latinos between 18- to 20-years of age, were seen running north on Jeffries and then eastbound on Avenue 28, police said.

Detectives working on the case have not been able to identify a suspect or suspects in the killing.

Duenas was standing on his porch around 7:35 p.m. Dec. 7 when an unidentified assailant walked up and opened fire, striking him in the back as he fled into his living room, according to the motion calling for the reward.

The two $50k rewards are for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for this death. Anyone with information regarding Nino’s killing, should contact Detectives Martinez or Lenchuk, at Northeast Homicide, at (323) 561-3321. Person(s) with information in Duenas’ shooting death, are asked to call LAPD Hollenbeck detectives at (323) 342-8960. Anonymous tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Man Killed in Cypress Park Identified

January 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The coroner’s office Monday released the name of a man who was stabbed to death in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles.

The victim was 22-year-old Christian Nino, said coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz.

The stabbing was reported at 2:18 a.m. Sunday 2627 Jeffries Ave., said Sgt. Teresa Anderson of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Station.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, Anderson said.


Nightingale Students On the Road to USC

September 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Students at Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park could get a full-ride scholarship to the University of Southern California if they successfully complete a 7-year program aimed at getting them to college. The program includes mandatory Saturday classes for both students and parents.

It’s part of USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) expansion to East/Northeast Los Angeles this school year through a new partnership with Lincoln and Wilson High Schools as well as Nightingale.

Lea este artículo en Español: Estudiantes de Nightingale Podrían Estudiar en USC Gratuitamente

The goal is to create a college-going culture for the school’s predominately Latino students, many who would be the first in their families to attend college. It requires sustained commitment from students and parents must also agree to complete the part of the program directed at them. The benefits and payoff, however, could be life changing.

For many students and parents, the high cost to attend college or a university can be intimidating, and with good reason. The estimated cost to attend USC this year is about $67,212, an amount unfathomable to many, such as the 92% of students classified in Nightingale’s School Accountability Report Card Report as “socioeconomically disadvantaged.” Add in the fact that many of the students are immigrants or the sons and daughters of immigrants, English Learners, living in an area with a long history of crime and gang violence, and it’s not hard to understand why the idea of attending a top-notch private university like USC could seem out of reach.

NAL Students on the last day of their Jaime Escalante Algebra course at Nightingale Middle School in July 2016. (Courtesy of LAUSD)

NAL Students on the last day of their Jaime Escalante Algebra course at Nightingale Middle School in July 2016. (Courtesy of LAUSD)

But through NAI, students could receive financial assistance amounting to $302,454 over 4.5 years, and more importantly, the academic tools they’ll need to get in and compete once there.

The academic assistance alone can make a big difference for Latino students in light of a number of recent studies which found that many inner-city students are unable to keep up academically with their peers in college and require remedial classes to get them through.

At Nightingale, for example, Latino students had the lowest overall proficiency in English Language skills, 45% compared 72% among Asian students, according to the school report card.

Through NAI, students at partnership schools will receive after school tutoring to help them achieve parity with students in more affluent areas of the state, says Kim Thomas-Barrios, executive director for the USC Educational Partnerships.

Rafael Gaeta, Nightingale’s principal, hopes the program will also keep enrollment at Nightingale from continuing to decline. He told EGP it’s one of the reasons he decided to reach out to USC.

“We’ve been losing a lot of enrollment to Charters and needed to be innovative in bringing in more kids,” Gaeta said. “At first I was denied, but I kept in contact with them and now it’s happened,” he said referring to the school’s partnership with NAI.

Currently, NAI serves about 1,000 students in 6th-12th grade and a little over 300 students in college, according to Thomas-Barrios.

“We don’t want students only to get into college,” but to also support students “throughout college so they don’t fall through the cracks,” Thomas-Barrios said.

The program is composed of three sections, the USC Pre-College Enrichment Academy, the Family Development Institute and the Retention Program, explains Thomas-Barrios.

The 7-year, Pre-College section requires participants to attend classes outside their regular Monday through Friday curriculum schedule. Held on 21 Saturdays during the academic year, each class lasts about five hours. Parents are required to attend nine, four-hour Saturday sessions a year.

Once students reach high school they can either continue in the program or drop out. If they elect to stay in, from 9th through 12th grade their first and second period classes will be on the USC campus, with the remainder of the day at their particular high school.

“They travel to the USC campus in the morning to dispel the notion that they do not belong in college, because they do,” explains Thomas-Barrios about why students don’t just stay at their local school.

For the parents, the Family Development Institute gives them a space to learn about the process of getting their children into college and their corresponding needs, in both English and Spanish.

“The fact that they can get a free ride to one of the most prestigious schools in the country is amazing because the cost of college is getting very expensive for the parents in our community,” Gaeta told EGP. Students who complete the program are not required to attend USC, but the scholarship is not transferable to another university.


NAL Students on a field trip at the Getty Center in 2016. (Courtesy of LAUSD)

It needs to be pointed out, however, that participation alone does not guarantee admission to USC. Students must also meet certain academic and financial benchmarks, but according to Thomas-Barrios, the program’s staff is well equipped to guide them toward meeting USC’s competitive standards. Once accepted, students must also apply to FAFSA to prove they are still low-income.

Response to the program exceeded the expectations of Nightingale staff, Gaeta said, noting that applications were gone as soon as they became available.

To qualify, students must reside near Nightingale and move on to Lincoln or Wilson High with a minimum of a C+ grade point average.

According to Gaeta, the school is also working on creating a college-going environment that goes beyond NAI, such as adding new electives to capture the attention of students who might begin to get distracted.

“We need to reach those children, stop being status quo and think outside the box,” Gaeta said.

Saturday classes for the 34 sixth graders selected at Nightingale for this year will begin September 17th at the USC Health Science Campus in Lincoln Heights.


Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Murder in Two Cases

August 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A gang member avoided a potential death sentence in pleading guilty Thursday to the 2008 murder of a man who was holding a toddler when he was gunned down in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles and the killing of a cellmate three years later.

Jose Angel Gomez, 27, will be sentenced Nov. 18 to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.

Gomez pleaded guilty to the Feb. 21, 2008, killing of Marco Salas, who was carrying his 2-year-old step-granddaughter when he was killed near Aragon Avenue Elementary School, along with the strangulation of Jonathan Najera in the Men’s Central Jail sometime between Feb. 28 and March 1, 2011.

Gomez also admitted the special circumstance allegation that the killings were carried out while he was an active participant in a criminal street gang, and to further the activities of the gang.

He had been awaiting trial next month in connection with Salas’ killing, along with the death of Daniel Leon, a gang member who was fatally wounded by police during a shootout soon after Salas’ shooting. The murder charge involving Leon’s death is expected to be dismissed as a result of his plea.

Gomez had been awaiting trial separately in connection with the jail killing, in which several other inmates are also charged.

One of Gomez’s attorneys, Christopher Chaney, called it a “good settlement” and the “right disposition.”

Co-defendant Rafael Carrillo was convicted in December 2013 of first-degree murder for Salas’ killing, but was acquitted of murder involving Leon’s death.

In January, a state appellate court panel rejected Carrillo’s contention that there were errors in his trial, and the California Supreme Court refused in April to review the case against him.

First of Two Drivers that Fatally Hit Woman Flees Scene

August 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorities today sought public help to find the driver of the first of two vehicles that struck and fatally injured a pedestrian in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles.

According to police, a woman in her 30s was struck by the two vehicles that were northbound on San Fernando Road near Loosmore Street as she crossed outside the marked crosswalk about 2:15 a.m. Thursday.

The woman, whose name was withheld pending family notification, died at a hospital.

“The driver of the primary vehicle left the scene, failing to stop, render aid and exchange information as required by law,” according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. “The second driver involved in the accident stayed at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.”

The hit-and-run vehicle was described only as a white box truck. No description was released of the driver.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call the LAPD Central Traffic Division at (213) 833-3713, or (877) LAPD-247.

Man Shot In Cypress Park

May 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was shot in the buttocks Saturday during an exchange of gunfire with another man in the Cypress Park area of Los Angeles, authorities said.

The shootout happened at Avenue 27 and Idell Street at 2:15 p.m., according to Sgt. D. Bowler of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Station.

“The shooting was one person against another and there were a bunch of casings,” Bowler said.

“A guy showed up at the hospital shot in the buttock.”

The victim was not cooperating with  police and the incident may be gang related, he said.

Counselors Sent to Cypress Park School

May 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Grief counselors were on hand Monday at Sotomayor Learning Academies, where students returned to class following the weekend deaths of two classmates whose bodies were recovered from the Los Angeles River near Cypress Park.

The coroner’s office identified the boys as Carlos Jovel, 16, and Gustavo Ramirez, 15. Autopsies were pending.

The teenagers went missing Friday, prompting a search of the area of Division Street and San Fernando Road. The two teens were in a group of four people who went to the river after school. One fell into the water and another is believed to have jumped in after him, witnesses said.

At about 12:40 p.m. Sunday, firefighters and police responded to the river in the 1900 block of San Fernando Road, and police announced at 8:20 p.m. that divers had recovered two bodies.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King said district officials are “deeply saddened by the drowning of two student” from Sotomayor, 2050 N. San Fernando Road.

“On behalf of the district, I express my deepest condolences to the boys’ families and friends and to the Sotomayor Learning Academies community,” King said. “District crisis counselors and school counselors are available at the campus to provide support to students and staff affected by this tragedy.”

Dos Jóvenes Mueren Ahogados en el Río de Los Ángeles Cerca de Cypress Park

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Terapeutas de duelo están presentes en la preparatoria Academias de Aprendizaje Sotomayor, donde los estudiantes regresaron a clase tras la muerte de dos compañeros de clase el fin de semana, cuyos cuerpos fueron recuperados del río de Los Ángeles cerca de Cypress Park.

La oficina del forense identificó a los chicos como Carlos Jovel, 16, y Gustavo Ramírez, 15. Las autopsias están pendientes.

La desaparición de los jóvenes el viernes provocó una búsqueda en la zona de División Street y San Fernando Road. Los dos adolescentes estaban en un grupo de cuatro personas que fueron al río después de la escuela. Uno cayó en el agua y otro se cree que saltó tras él, dijeron testigos.

 (Izq) Gustavo Ramírez, 15 y Carlos Jovel, 16.

(Izq) Gustavo Ramírez, 15 y Carlos Jovel, 16.

Alrededor de las 12:20pm del domingo, los bomberos y la policía comenzaron la búsqueda en el río en el 1900 bloque de San Fernando Road, y anunciaron a las 8:20pm que los buzos habían recuperado dos cuerpos.

La superintendente del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles Michelle King dijo que los funcionarios del distrito están “profundamente entristecidos por el ahogamiento de dos estudiantes” de la escuela Sotomayor, localizada en 2050 N. San Fernando Road.

“En nombre del distrito, expreso mis más profundas condolencias a las familias y amigos de los chicos y a la comunidad de Academias de Aprendizaje Sotomayor, dijo King.

“Consejeros de crisis del Distrito y consejeros escolares están disponibles en el campus para proporcionar apoyo a los estudiantes y el personal afectados por esta tragedia”.

Bodies of Missing Teens Recovered In L.A. River

May 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The coroner’s office confirmed Monday morning two bodies recovered from the Los Angeles River near Cypress Park were those of the teenage boys who went missing in the area.
The victims were confirmed to be Carlos Jovel, 16, and Gustavo Ramirez, 15, said coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz. Autopsies were pending.

Both of the victims were students at the Sotomayor Learning Academy, located near the river where the bodies were found.

The teenagers went missing on Friday and crews were searching in the area of Division Street and San Fernando Road. The two teens were in a group of four people. One fell into the water and another went in after him, according to news reports.

An initial search of the river Saturday was unsuccessful.

Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department said firefighters were summoned about 12:40 p.m. Sunday to assist Los Angeles police in the 1900 block
of San Fernando Road. Los Angeles police tweeted about 8:20 p.m. that divers had recovered two bodies.

Family members initially were unaware the boys had gone in the water, according to news reports.

Lawsuit Filed Over Man’s Fatal Fall Off Cypress Park Bridge

April 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The mother of a young man killed last year after he fell from a bridge and onto the Pasadena (110) Freeway, where he was hit by a car, is suing the state, the city of Los Angeles and the owners of the vehicle, alleging their negligence all contributed to the death.

Eva Alicia Zatarian, the mother of 22-year-old Armando Sahagun of Highland Park, filed the lawsuit April 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The decedent’s son, Matthew Mondo Sahagun-Zendejas, was 2 years old when his father died. The boy also is a plaintiff and his interests are represented by his mother, Kimberly Zendejas.The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Sahagun fell off the Pasadena Avenue Bridge and onto the freeway in Cypress Park at about 7:45 p.m. last July 18, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. He was then struck by a car owned by Saul Morales and Yessica Feria and driven at the time by Morales, the suit states.

Morales, who was traumatized by the incident, stopped and called police, the LAPD said previously.

The suit alleges that the state and city are liable because the bridge lacked state-of-the-art traffic engineering safety measures that could have reduced hazards confronting pedestrians. The complaint provides no specifics other than to say there was inadequate lighting.

The alleged deficiencies could have been detected with regular inspections, according to the complaint.

The suit further alleges that Morales was driving negligently when his car struck Sahagun, who worked at Dodger Stadium.

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