New Homeless Outreach Team Targets East, Northeast L.A.

September 28, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

(Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

(Office of Councilman Jose Huizar)

Councilman Jose Huizar last week introduced the new homeless outreach team for Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Northeast LA.

Huizar worked with County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to bring a new intensive outreach team to serve those experiencing homelessness – specifically outside of Downtown LA, the councilman said last week.

The new team includes a mental health worker, substance abuse counselor case manager, medical provider and a peer with lived experience, the same combination of teams that have had success on Skid Row.

“More resources are needed from County partners to address the mental-health crisis in CD14 and beyond,” said Huizar, pointing out that a third of the homeless population struggles with mental health illnesses.

“This is a key step forward, but we need more resources and immediate response teams for those experiencing mental health crises,” Huizar said.

Two Injured in Shooting

May 24, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

EL SERENO – Two men sustained leg wounds in a gang-related shooting Monday in the El Sereno section of Los Angeles.

The shooting was reported a few minutes before 5 p.m. in the area of Oakland Street and Portola Avenue, south of Huntington Drive, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Both victims were taken to a hospitals.

Police said two males who fled in a black Cadillac Escalade SUV walked up to the victims and asked them their gang affiliation before opening fire.

Both victims were shot in the left leg and both were expected to recover, police said.

Congressional Hopefuls Say 34th District Needs a Fighter

March 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The president wasn’t in the room, but he was omnipresent as congressional hopefuls tried to convince a crowd in El Sereno that he or she has what it takes to represent their interests in the era of Donald Trump.

Fourteen of the nearly two-dozen candidates running for the 34th Congressional seat left vacant when Xavier Becerra left to become State Attorney General took part in a candidate forum Feb. 28 at the El Sereno Senior Center. The seat will be filled during a Special Election on April 4, but if no candidate receives 50% plus 1 of the votes, a runoff between the two top voter getters will take place on June 6.

The 34th Congressional District spans some of Los Angeles’ most ethnically diverse and densely populated neighborhoods, running from Boyle Heights, through downtown and Northeast Los Angeles, Koreatown and the Westlake area.

Cheers, jeers and applause that often interrupt speakers at these type of forums are commonplace, but the dozens of people gathered last week appeared more intent on listening to the issues being discussed than rallying support for a single candidate.

Noticeably missing was Democratic Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, who some see as the frontrunner — and candidate favored by the Democratic Party establishment.

Fourteen of the candidates vying to represent the 34th Congressional District, participated in a forum at El Sereno Senior Center Feb. 23. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Fourteen of the candidates vying to represent the 34th Congressional District, participated in a forum at El Sereno Senior Center Feb. 23. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“Some candidates didn’t show up,” businessman Ricardo “Ricky” De La Fuente told the crowd. “I hope you consider the candidates that did show up.”

Gomez’ campaign said the assemblyman had a scheduling conflict.

Nearly all the candidates described how the recent presidential election had motivated them to run for office. As they discussed immigration, health care and the economy, it was clear their real task was convincing the crowd they have what it takes to go up against Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress on policies they believe threaten the community and the country

“We need somebody who knows how to fight, when to fight and how to be effective,” said Vanessa Aramayo, an anti-poverty, nonprofit advisor, after first describing her experience with public policy and community organizing.

For some of the candidates, like aerospace engineer Tracy Van Houten, the desire to run was fueled by Trump’s appointments to his Cabinet. “I cannot stand by and watch and see what Betsey DeVos will do to our public education” system, she said, before going on to tout her experience sending rovers to Mars.

Whoever is elected must be ready to fight, said Alejandra Campoverdi, a multicultural community advocate and former White House aide. “We need a candidate that will hit the ground running,” she said. “I understand Washington, I know the White House.”

Raymond Meza, a coordinator with Service Employees International Union Local 721, described how he successfully rallied support for an increase in the minimum wage. He argued that towing the Democratic Party line is not enough, because “If that’s all they’re going to do, nothing is going to get done.

“We need to lay the groundwork to get Trump out and make sure we don’t lose everything we fought for in the last decade.”

Pointing to the president’s recent executive orders on immigration, several shared stories of growing up with immigrant parents or being immigrants themselves. They said the issue is personal to them and the district’s large undocumented immigrant population.

“Our community is definitely under attack, we need a fighter, but that’s not enough,” said Sara Hernandez, director of the nonprofit Coro Southern California. “We need someone with a track record.”

Journalist and community activist Wendy Carrillo migrated without permission to the U.S. to escape the civil war in El Salvador and later became a citizen. She warned that recent Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have made many immigrants fear the police.

“We need to ensure federal funding is not used to give local authorities jurisdiction to act as ICE agents,” Carrillo said.

Maria Cabildo, an economic development director with Los Angeles County added that the raids are having a chilling effect on the economy.

“We’re already seeing an impact in our community,” Cabildo said. “People are spending less.”

“During the [George W.] Bush presidency we saw foreclosures in our community, that could potentially happen again,” she warned.

Campoverdi compared the fear she’s seeing to that experienced after the approval of Proposition 187, which would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits but was for the most part blocked by the courts.

“That’s why we need political pressure, to lay the groundwork for immigration reform, not just a Band Aid,” she said.

Kenneth Mejia, a certified public accountant and the sole Green Party candidate, reminded the crowd that millions of people were deported under the Obama Administration. He said he’s against Trump’s border policies: “If we can open borders to billion-dollar companies, we should open borders to people,” he said.

As an immigrant who arrived to the United States as an unaccompanied minor, public administrator Sandra Mendoza called for temporarily housing if children are separated from their parents during such raids.

Steve Mac, a felony prosecutor and military officer, suggested cutting funds to ICE as a way to limit deportations to violent criminals. He said slowing down hearings before judges would force ICE to prioritize who they go after.

Trump’s plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act should also be a top priority for whoever is elected, the candidates said.

Tenaya Wallace, a civic engagement strategist, said ending Obamacare will be detrimental to many in the 34th District and whoever goes to Washington D.C. must be able to tell their stories, pledging she would “hold the line” on repealing the law.

Hernandez called the race an investment in the next generation of leaders, in someone who will stand up for the values of the community.

Hearing Trump insult his heritage was enough to prepare him to go face-to-face with the president, said businessman William Rodriguez-Morrison, the sole Republican in the race.

“I’ve fought for this community when I was wearing my Franklin [High School] jacket and I want to fight for you,” he promised. “I will put [Trump] in his place.”

For Carrillo, there is a need to create a movement that will bring change come 2018, when mid-term elections could put control of the Congress back in play.

Before he left, Becerra was the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, serving as Democratic Caucus chair.

Aziza Hasan, the evening’s moderator, reminded the candidates, “You have some real big shoes to fill.”


Fire Near El Sereno Recreation Center Baseball Field

June 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A fast-moving vegetation fire broke out today behind a baseball field at the El Sereno Recreation Center, scorching more than three
acres before fire crews knocked it down about 40 minutes later.

Crews responded just after 4pm to reports of a vegetation fire, about an acre large, at 4721 Klamath St., according to Brian Humphrey of the Los
Angeles Fire Department.

The fire, driven by the dry terrain and light wind, burned about three and a half acres before crews knocked it down.

Several people were rescued from a nearby homeless encampment, Humphrey said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, and crews remained on the scene to monitor hotspots, he added.

There was no damage to structures and no injuries were reported, he said.

County Parks Need More Money

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Parks in Los Angeles County need more money to pay for everything from better lighting and equipment to more police and recreational programs, according to a needs assessment report being finalized for county supervisors.

The findings, compiled from feedback received from residents during 178 public meetings across the county will be presented to supervisors May 3 to help them determine whether there is an urgent need to place a parks funding proposition on the November ballot.

“We’ve all benefited from little and big open spaces,” said Jane Beesley, district director of the Los Angeles County Regional Park and Open Space District at an Earth Day news briefing/environmental justice forum hosted by New America Media.

“We need our parks and now our parks need us,” Beesley said.

Over the last two decades, funding for county parks was supplemented through Proposition A — a county parks tax approved by voters in 1992 that expired last year. A supplemental levy approved in 1996 is scheduled to expire in June 2019.

Since 1992, the Regional Park and Open Space District – which administers Prop A revenue – has funded almost 1,500 park-related projects across the county. In addition to ongoing maintenance, the special parcel tax has helped pay for projects like a new Olympic-sized swimming pool at Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles and the restoration of the Griffith Park Observatory and Hollywood Bowl.

A similar ballot measure to pay for future maintenance and improvements was narrowly defeated in 2014. Critics at the time said the measure was too vague and lacked community input. Advocates for a new funding measure say those issues have been addressed, citing the hundreds of public parks meetings conducted countywide between December 2015 and February of this year to gather public input in preparation for a possible ballot measure asking voters to pay for park improvements.

El Sereno Arroyo Playground was transformed from a vacant lot to the ‘gem’ of the northeast community. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

El Sereno Arroyo Playground was transformed from a vacant lot to the ‘gem’ of the northeast community. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“We asked them to dream and they did,” said Rita Robinson, project director for the county’s Parks Needs Assessment, noting that more than 5,000 people took part in the workshops.

“How many times have you seen government ask what would you like?”

Meetings held in low-income Latino, African-American and Asian-American neighborhoods were packed, environmental groups pointed out during the forum.

While no specific details of the report have been released, Robinson said more than 1,700 specific projects were recommended. Activists said many of the proposals were generated in communities of color.

Robinson made it clear that the executive summary being presented to supervisors next week would show most county’s parks have high and very high needs.

Keshia Sexton, director of organizing for Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, said residents she spoke to during the outreach portion of the study had a long “wish list” that included dog parks, swimming pools, community centers, gardens, soccer fields and skate parks. Some residents even went as far as to ask for a new park, she said,

“What we heard across the board was there is a need,” Sexton said. “They also made it clear they hope this was not just another study but that there would be action.”

Pamela Marquez is one of those who has witnessed first hand that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” For decades, she and other residents of El Sereno demanded that a vacant lot on the outskirts of their predominately Latino eastside Los Angeles neighborhood be converted into a park – but one that fits the needs of the community.

“We were given the opportunity to design the park of our dreams and it has made a difference,” Marquez told EGP. The El Sereno Arroyo Playground is now the gem of the community, she said. Park amenities include walking paths, children’s playground, solar lights, security cameras and other features. The park has even increased property values, Marquez added.

She said having a park nearby “makes a difference” in one’s quality of life. “My husband lived near a park and joined sports, meanwhile we have friends who joined gangs” because there was no park to offer an alternative, she said, recalling her experience growing up in Boyle Heights.

For many residents and environmental activists, parks are a way to engage and build community. Several speakers emphasized the critical role parks play in a community’s health.

Belinda V. Faustinos grew up near Lincoln Park and said the park was the only place many parents could afford to take the entire family.

She emphasized fixing bathrooms and other amenities that make park-goers feel safe and comfortable.

“We need to make sure all parks have that no matter where they are built,” she said.

Andrew Yip with Bike SGV said high rates of obesity and diabetes are often found in underrepresented communities that often lack a park or open space.

People in these communities often just want the basics, like better lighting and paved streets, he said.

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

(EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Rosalio Muñoz volunteers at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Montecito Heights and believes safety measures are needed at the park which includes acres of open space and hiking trails.

The bodies of two young women bludgeoned to death were found at the park a few months ago and according to Muñoz the park would benefit from more lighting and a dedicated park ranger and added staff.

He worries, however, that a Metro transportation bond on the same ballot might hurt the park proposal’s prospects.

According to county officials, however, 69 percent of voters polled said they would support passage of a park funding measure even with a transportation bond on the ballot

“It’s very crowded, but people are committed to parks,” said Beesley.

Taxista Muerto a Tiros es Identificado

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Autoridades identificaron el lunes un taxista que fue muerto a tiros en un aparente robo el domingo por la noche en El Sereno.

El tiroteo fue reportado cerca de la avenida Indiana y la calle Worth a las 9:35pm, dijo el sargento Michael Morisseau del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles estación Hollenbeck.

Cuando los agentes llegaron, encontraron a la víctima en la carretera con heridas de bala.

Antonio González, 43, cuya dirección es desconocida, murió en el lugar, dijo el subjefe del forense Ed Winter.

“No hubo testigos”, dijo Morisseau. La investigación continúa

Se insta a cualquier persona con información llame a los detectives de homicidios de la estación Hollenbeck al (323) 342-8964 o al (877) 247-LAPD.



Son Charged In Mother’s Stabbing

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 25-year-old man suspected of stabbing his mother in their Boyle Heights home, leaving her hospitalized, was charged Monday with attempted murder.

Angel Hernandez was arrested Thursday in El Sereno by a detective who had interviewed the victim at the hospital. The lead detective on the case was on his way back to the station after the interview when he spotted Hernandez walking in the area and called for back-up, police said.

Hernandez, who is also facing a gun allegation, appeared in a downtown courtroom this afternoon but did not enter a plea. His arraignment was postponed to March 14, according to a court clerk.
Police said the stabbing occurred about 12:10 a.m. last Monday in the 3700 block of Lee Street, where the victim lived with her son.

“The mother was upset with her son for an incident that occurred earlier in the day,’” according to a statement issued by the Los Angeles Police Department. “Hernandez’s sister heard the mother pleading with her son that what he was doing wasn’t necessary and to just leave. Hernandez’s sister then heard what sounded like Hernandez physically assaulting their mother. Looking through a kitchen window, she saw her brother retrieve a large kitchen knife.”

When officers arrived at the home, they found the mother with multiple stab wounds to her neck, arms and legs, but her son had fled the scene, police said.

The woman was expected to survive her wounds.

Hernandez was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

‘Jugando’ a Dar Durante la Navidad

December 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Como hijo de padres inmigrantes que tenían varios trabajos para poder cubrir los gastos, el asambleísta Jimmy Gómez todavía puede recordar vívidamente la alegría que sintió en los años que pudo recibir un juguete para Navidad.

“Eso era la gran cosa”, recordó el pasado viernes mientras se preparaba para recibir a cerca de 2.000 niños y sus familias durante la tercera Repartición Anual de Juguetes en El Sereno.

Read this article in English: ‘Toying’ With Holiday Giving

“Se que un juguete podría significar mucho para un niño”, Gómez le dijo a EGP mientras los niños esperaban ansiosamente recibir sus juguetes y ver a Santa Claus.

“¡Quiero ver los juguetes!” Se escuchaban niños diciendo a sus padres mientras saltaban y se acercaban más en la línea.

Arlene Hernández y sus cinco hijos obtuvieron el primer lugar en línea, que se extendió por la avenida Rosemead. Ella le dijo a EGP que escuchó sobre el evento, por medio de Barrio Action Youth and Family Center, donde sus dos hijos mayores reciben tutoría.

“Es emocionante y me siento agradecida porque hay muchas personas que no tienen dinero para los regalos”, dijo Hernández. “Es generoso lo que [el asambleísta] está haciendo”, añadió.

Una vez dentro del gimnasio de la organización, los niños de Hernández al igual que muchos otros continuaban entusiasmados viendo las mesas llenas de juguetes en fila.

Después de recibir sis juguetes Arlene Hernández les toma una foto a sus hijos con Santa Claus. (Oficina del asambleísta Jimmy Gómez)

Después de recibir sis juguetes Arlene Hernández les toma una foto a sus hijos con Santa Claus. (Oficina del asambleísta Jimmy Gómez)

Habían muñecas, muñecos de peluche, sonajas, juegos de mesa, coches, figuras de superhéroes y muchos juguetes más.

“Este es mi segundo año y me gusta que cada vez esta más y más grande”, reflexionó Hernández mientras veía las mesas llenas de juguetes separadas por edades.

Según Gómez, cuando fue elegido miembro de la Asamblea en 2012 adquirió el compromiso de ayudar a su comunidad y estar visiblemente activo en su distrito, que incluye gran parte del este y noreste de Los Ángeles.

“Quiero asegurarme de que le estamos dando a la gente un poco de esperanza durante los días festivos”, explicó acerca de su participación en el evento.

Una exitosa recolección de juguetes, así como patrocinadores como Time Warner, Barrio Action y otras organizaciones hicieron posible la repartición de juguetes, de acuerdo a la oficina del asambleísta.

Niños que iban a recibir regalos, desde recién nacidos hasta los 13 años, fueron requeridos a registrarse previamente en Barrio Action, según el portavoz de Gómez, Aaron Keshishian. Él dijo que el evento fue “muy gratificante”.

El asambleísta Jimmy Gómez (D-51) cambia el papel con Santa Claus para la foto. Santa Claus le pide que continúe luchando por las familias de California. (Oficina del asambleísta Jimmy Gómez)

El asambleísta Jimmy Gómez (D-51) cambia el papel con Santa Claus para la foto. Santa Claus le pide que continúe luchando por las familias de California. (Oficina del asambleísta Jimmy Gómez)

Mientras Teresa García esperaba en línea con sus tres hijos y tres sobrinos, le dijo a EGP que su hija adolescente toma clases contra ‘bullying’ en Barrio Action y ahí es donde se enteraron de la distribución de juguetes.

Como muchos otros esperaron pacientemente, con vales en la mano, su turno para recoger su juguete.

La directora de Barrio Action Tammy Membreno le dijo a EGP que trabajaron con el asambleísta Gómez para llevar un poco de felicidad a las familias que viven en la zona.

“No podemos sacar a las familias de la pobreza, pero podemos quitarles un peso de encima al proporcionarles juguetes para sus hijos”, dijo, haciendo hincapié que muchos de los padres que participan son jóvenes y al proporcionarles juguetes para sus hijos les dan una gran ayuda.

Después de todo, “Se trata de compasión durante la festividad navideña”, dijo.

Gómez—recordando que cuando era un niño deseaba con todo su corazón estar al lado de Santa Claus—no pudo resistir la tentación de tomarse la foto con él, esta vez con un pequeño arreglo en la postura tradicional; Santa sentado en su pierna para pedir algo especial en esta temporada.

¿La petición de Santa? Que Gómez continúe luchando en la asamblea por las familias de California.


Twitter @jackiereporter

Girls’ Killings Fuel Fear and Rumors

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A coroner’s spokesman said Wednesday he could not comment on a report that one of two young women found dead in a Montecito Heights park had been shot in the head.

Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said only that there were concerns about security holds that had been placed on the two cases, and he declined to elaborate.

Lea este artículo en Español: La Muerte de Dos Mujeres Incrementa Miedo y Rumores

NBC4 cited the coroner’s office as the source of information that 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada had been shot.

Friends and family in social media posts have identified the second victim as seventeen-year-old Briana Gallegos, a resident of Pico Rivera and student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassell Park. The bodies were found about 2:20 p.m. Oct. 28 by a woman walking her dog on a trail near Mercury and Boundary avenues in the Rose Hills section of Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.

Briana Gallegos, 17, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Family and friends identified Briana Gallegos, 17, found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Their deaths have been classified as homicides.

On Tuesday night, dozens of scared residents attended a meeting at Ramona Hall where Los Angeles police addressed where they are in the investigation.

“We are talking to people, addressing concerns and rumors going on,” LAPD Hollenbeck Division Capt. Martin Baeza told the crowd.

According to police, the victims were fully dressed when found and there was evidence of blunt-force trauma, but would not confirm if that was the cause of death.

Baeza confirmed that autopsies had been performed but would not elaborate on the results, saying only that the “official investigation is being handled by my detectives.”

Baeza wouldn’t speculate on whether the murders happened in the park or elsewhere. “The bodies were about 300 to 400 yards off the street on the trail,” he said, adding it would have been unusual for them to have been dumped out of a vehicle, but added nothing is being ruled out.

Several people living near the park have reported seeing a suspicious man hanging around the park. Rumors that the killings could be related to the unsolved killings of two women in Lincoln Heights a few years ago, or three separate attacks on women walking alone in the park last year has many residents on edge.

Montecito Heights resident Andrea Mageed told EGP she used to hike in the park, but has become afraid to go there by herself after seeing “a suspicious man” wearing a backpack several times staring at the women in the park.

“You can’t come here anymore by yourself,” she said.

Rose Hill resident Silvia and her husband, who did not want to give his name, live very close to the park and said they heard a woman screaming on the morning of the day the bodies were found. Neighbors said it might have been one of the victims, but the couple says it could have been a neighbor victim of domestic abuse.

“I’m assuming they brought them dead already,” speculated Silvia’s husband.

Gabriela Calzada, 19, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

Gabriela Calzada, 19, was found dead at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park Oct. 28. (Facebook)

“We have never seen anything like this before,” Silvia said.

This tragedy has shocked the entire community, Baeza said Tuesday. He said police are following every lead and rumor, and are not ruling any possible motive.

“People are giving us a lot of information, and what we do is prioritize it” in a clue book, he said, adding he’s determined to see the case solved.

Councilman Gil Cedillo’s field deputy in the area, Sylvia Robledo, told the crowd at Ramona Hall that her boss is working closely with the LAPD on the case. She said councilman’s office has received calls from people wanting to provide information, some of it rumors, and they are forwarding the information to police.

Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council member Nancy Rosas is worried there might be a serial killer on the loose. She said Tuesday she is very concerned for the safety of young girls who might be out walking and called on police to step up patrols in the area. “We need more patrol officers for our safety,” she emphasized.

“At this time we don’t know if this is a serial killer and don’t have any information to support that statement,” responded Baeza. Rumors that the killings could be tied to the April 2014 killing of a woman found in the Arroyo Seco are untrue. That killing has been solved and the suspect is in jail, the captain said.

Baeza was not as definite about speculation that the girl’s deaths might be the work of a man still wanted in connection with the assault of three women in the park between January and July 2014. At the time, police said the suspect was targeting women walking alone. Police released a composite drawing of the suspect, and warned women to not walk in the park alone.

 Flowers were placed along a trail at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park where the bodies of two teenage girls were found last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Flowers were placed along a trail at Ernest E, Debs Regional Park where the bodies of two teenage girls were found last week. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

East Los Angeles resident Carla Legaspi told EGP she feels unsafe these days because violence against women is becoming an “epidemic,” and no arrest has been made in the Sept. 29 attempted sexual assault of a woman in Boyle Heights, near the Metro station at First and Pecan streets.

“[LAPD] needs to send mass emails, publish the photo of the suspects everywhere,” she said.

According to Baeza, extra patrols, including bicycle units have been added at the park.

A vigil for the for the two teenagers will be held today at 5 p.m., organized by Eastside Mujeres—a network of organizations providing support to women. The group will demand justice and peace in the community  and “to stop the femicides and killings of women,” Carla Osorio, a member of East LA Women Center and part of the network told EGP.

She said the group will provide safety tips, such as never walking alone and taking self-defense classes.

Another “March for Peace” will take place Saturday in Lincoln Heights at 10am at the corner of Griffin and North Broadway.

Efforts are underway to help the girls’ families raise money to cover funeral costs.

A fundraiser carwash will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 5337 Monte Vista Street, Los Angeles 90042, to collect donations for Briana Gallegos.

A page has been set up for each of the girls.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Hollenbeck division detectives at (323) 342-8900 or the Senior Lead Officer for Montecito Heights, Austin Fernald at (213) 924-5538. Information from City news Service used in this report.

 —-Twitter @jackiereporter

UPDATE: Two Women Found Dead in Debs Park

October 29, 2015 by · 3 Comments 

A 17-year old girl found dead in a park in Montecito Heights was identified Friday by friends as family as Briana Gallegos of Pico Rivera.

The coroner’s office previously identified a second victim as 19-year-old Gabriela Calzada.

The women’s deaths have been classified as homicides, Officer Aareon Jefferson of the Los Angeles Police Departments Media Relations Section said.

The bodies were found about 2:20 p.m. Wednesday near Mercury and Boundary avenues along a walking path through Ernest E. Debs Regional Park, according to the LAPD.


Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is a popular location for hikers and runners. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park in Motecito Heights is home to several miles of hiking and cycling trails. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A woman walking her dog came upon the bodies, which were on the side of a hill, and called police, LAPD Officer Matthew Ludwig said Wednesday.

According to police, the women were found fully clothed about 300 yards from the street, and did not appear to have been sexually assaulted. He declined to comment on whether police found obvious signs of trauma on the bodies.

The coroner’s office has not officially identified Gallegos as one of the victims but friends have identified the teen and written on her Facebook page. According to the page, Gallegos was a student at Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies in Glassel Park.

One of the young women was reported missing at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, nearly seven hours after their bodies were found.

The park is popular with hikers and walkers. It’s also home to a National Audubon Center.

Flowers were placed at the site where the bodies of two woman were found at Debs Park. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Flowers were placed at the site where the bodies of two woman were found at Debs Park. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“I’m really scared knowing a killer may be out there,” said Helen, who asked not to use her last name.

“I never walk in the park alone anymore, not since those women were attacked last year, ” she told EGP.

She was referring to the assault on three women between January and July 2014.  At the time, police said the suspect was targeting women walking alone in the park. Signs with a composite drawing of the suspect warning women to to not walk alone and to keep an eye out for the suspect were posted around the park.

Autopsies to determine the victims’ causes of death were pending, according to the coroner’s office.

Article includes information from City News Service.

Update: 6:39 p.m.

Updated Oct. 30 2:45 p.m.

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