Officer-Involved Shooting Occurs in Hollenbeck

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

LAPD officers were involved in an officer-involved shooting during a routine assignment in the Hollenbeck area.

On Nov. 15 around 8:05 p.m., two officers recognized as a known gang member and narcotic user, on the southeast corner of North Brittania and City View Streets. The man appeared to the officers to be under the influence of an unknown controlled substance.

The suspect refused to comply with orders to put his hands up, and a chase ensured, according to the LAPD. The suspect stopped in the 1900 block of City View Street, that’s when one of the officers in pursuit, believing the suspect was drawing a gun, shot the suspect, according to police. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to a local area hospital where he received medical treatment for the gunshot wounds. No officers were injured. No weapon was recovered at the scene, and the item police saw the suspect taking out of his waistband turned out to be a wallet, according to authorities.

Former Roosevelt High Teacher Pleads Guilty in Sex Crimes

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A high school teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to having sex with two of her male students.

Gabriela Cortez, 43, entered her plea to six felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 7 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr.

The crimes occurred between September 2009 and November 2010, primarily in Cortez’s Montebello home, when the boys, now adults, were 16 and 17, according to Deputy District Attorney Hyunah Suh.

Cortez, a Spanish teacher at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights at the time, was arrested Feb. 22 by Montebello police and released later that day after posting $140,000 bail.

She faces a maximum sentence of six years and four months behind bars, but Clarke could also order probation with no jail time, Suh said.

Woman Shot at Boyle Heights ‘Food4Less’

November 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

(CNS) – A woman in her 30s was shot in the leg in a Boyle Heights supermarket Tuesday night after getting into an argument with another woman who was part of a group of four people.

The other woman was with another woman and two men, all in their 20s, in the Food4Less market at First and Mott streets around 8:30 p.m., said Los Angeles police Officer Bruce Borihanh of the Media Relations Section.

During the argument, one of the men intervened and shot the victim in a leg, Borihanh said. All four suspects ran out of the store, got into a car and fled, Borihanh said.

Officers from the Hollenbeck Station responded, spotted the car and attempted to pull it over, Borihanh said.

The vehicle stopped and the suspects ran, but the two men were quickly taken into custody after a short foot chase and the women were also later apprehended, Borihanh said.

The victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Borihanh said.

El Sereno Green Space Wins New Protections

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council voted Tuesday to take the final step necessary to protect 20 acres of hilly open space in El Sereno from development.

The council voted to rezone 57 parcels that compose the Elephant Hill site.

The City Council in November 2009 approved a settlement with a developer to purchase the land, ending more than 20 years of battle over the land.

The council later voted to sell five acres of the land to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which built a walking trail. The council’s approval to rezone the parcels on the site was the final step to allow the purchase of the land by the authority.

“I want to thank the El Sereno community and our environmental advocates for working and fighting with me to protect this beautiful open space,” Councilman Jose Huizar said.

“Since I took office, securing Elephant Hill for the El Sereno community has been one of my biggest priorities and today’s vote protects this land so that our children and their children will be able to enjoy it for a very long time.”

A proposed subdivision on Elephant Hill in the 1980s triggered community concerns after a similar development project in nearby Monterey Hills caused subsidence and property damage, leading to an expensive settlement.

The Eaton Crest project in Monterey Hills cost the city $65 million to settle with about 700 property owners, according to Huizar’s office.

Developer Monterey Hills, LLC was cleared to build on Elephant Hill in 1993, but didn’t move to build on the site until 2006. Huizar blocked the city from granting the developer’s building permits, drawing a lawsuit. The two parties agreed in 2009 to an approximately $9 million settlement, keeping the land undeveloped and owned by the city.

“Along with the MRCA’s development of a walking trail, re-zoning these city-owned parcels will provide increased opportunities for outdoor physical activity in a neighborhood with no park or recreation facility nearby,” said Elva Yanez, a member of the Elephant Hill Advisory Task Force.

“The hundreds of residents who use Collis Avenue as an informal track to walk and run will have a new, natural destination to explore.”

1st District Council Candidates Attend Forum

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Four city council hopefuls who want to replace termed-out Los Angeles City District 1 Councilman Ed Reyes, participated in a candidates’ forum Monday night at the Carlin G. Smith Recreation Center in Mount Washington.

One resident in attendance told EGP the forum was particularly exciting since it’s the first contest in years. The 1st Council District has been represented by Reyes since 2001; the long-time councilman has endorsed his chief of staff as his successor.

The March Primary Election could present a major shakeup at City Hall, just as the city is grappling with how to deal with a potentially crippling budget shortfall of over $200 million. More than half of the council seats, the offices of mayor, city attorney and city controller are all up for grabs.

All 15 council districts underwent redistricting earlier this year. The new CD-1 boundaries, which take effect in January, now include all of Mount Washington, where Monday’s forum was held.

Announced candidates include local businessman Jesse Rosas, Neighborhood Council Board Member William “Rodriguez” Morrison, Councilman Reyes’ Chief Deputy, Jose A. Gardea, Assemblyman Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo, and Church of the City Pastor Randy Carillo, who was the only candidate to not take part in the forum.

As of Tuesday, Gardea was the only candidate to file the required forms needed to qualify to have his name on the ballot. Candidates have until Dec. 5 to file their Nominating Petitions, and either pay the filing fee or meet the required number of signatures to wave the fee.

During the forum, candidates responded to a variety of questions from both the moderator and members of the audience, ranging from how they would bring jobs to the area, reduce crime and gangs, to their thoughts on restoring and enhancing the Los Angeles River — one of Reyes’ top projects.

The event was presented by the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance and according to the group’s vice president of programs, Monique Gaudry, candidates were asked to provide in advance of the meeting written responses to questions on the Autry-Southwest Museum issue, the Van De Kamps Dispute. They were also asked about their involvement in non-governmental organizations. The written responses, and possibly a video of the forum, will be posted in the near future on the alliance’s website, Gaudry told EGP. The group’s website is

The City of Los Angeles Primary Nominating Election will be held on March 5, 2013. Other contests include: Mayor, City Controller, City Attorney, City Council District 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15; LAUSD School Board offices 2, 4, and 6; and Los Angeles Community College District Seats 2, 4 and 6.

Bell Gardens Intermediate Votes for $50,000 Grant

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Students and parents at Bell Gardens Intermediate are busy these days voting for their school in hopes of winning the $50,000 grand prize in a nationwide contest.

Martha Cabral votes for Bell Gardens Intermediate, in hopes her child’s school wins the $50,000 grand prize. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The “A Bright Future” competition, sponsored by The Clorox Company, will award prizes to seven schools in three different categories: “Play,” which would help schools build playgrounds and establish exercise programs; “Create,” to fund art-related programs and “Explore,” which will help schools establish science clubs or computer labs.

Bell Gardens Councilmember Priscilla Flores signed up the Montebello Unified School District school to compete in the “Explore” category, in hopes of winning funds needed to purchase new computers for the school.

“We have computers that are outdated, so after a few years, you see the need to update, but it can get very costly,” said Flores, who also happens to teach at the school.

The school with the most votes in each of the three categories will win $25,000. Judges will also pick a second school in each category for a second $25,000 grant. The $50,000 grand prize will be awarded to the school with the most votes overall.

Currently, Bell Gardens Intermediate is ranked 84th out of over 2,000 schools that are competing for the grant. Flores set up a computer in the parent room at the intermediate school to make it easier for parents who want to vote.

“We need to take the initiative to try to win,” Flores said. “I know it seems like a long shot, but the opportunities are not going to come on their own, you have to seek it,” she said.

Each person can vote once per day online or by text message. The last day to vote is Dec. 19. All seven winners will be announced in January.

To vote, visit or text 602PBF to 95248 (message and data rates apply).

From the Pulpit to the Big Screen, Pastor Plays a Leading Role

November 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Many people, when they hear the name John Paul Jones, they immediately think you’re talking about the bassist for the popular rock band Led Zeppelin. But in Montebello, John Paul Jones is a man people can count on for advice, bible studies, counseling and as a friend.

Montebello Calvary Chapel’s pastor, John Paul Jones (pictured), stars in Los Traficantes opening Nov. 27. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Pastor John Paul has been involved with the Montebello Calvary Chapel for 10 years, the last year or so as its pastor. He takes an active part in the community outreach and bible study programs, collects food and goods the community needs, not only in Montebello but on L.A.’s skid row as well.

The Montebello chapel, which started off as a small bible study group, has grown to include three buildings on Montebello’s southside, just off Maple and Washington Boulevard, and now draws hundreds each Sunday for prayer and worship.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Desde el Púlpito a la Pantalla Grande, Un Pastor Desempeña un Papel Protagónico

But being a pastor was not Jones first, or his only calling.

He was born in Santa Ana but moved to his mother’s homeland of Caracas, Venezuela when he was six-years-old. He studied theater there, and dreamed of being an actor, deciding one day to return to California.

He got involved with the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts in Lincoln Heights and the Los Angeles Theater Company where he performed in a couple of plays, which led to commercials and other small roles.

He said he never had the lead role, but was satisfied being involved in the theater. But the money he earned was not enough to support his wife and his mortgage, and when his wife told him a baby was on the way, he says he knew he things had to change.

“That’s the day I spoke to God. I said, ‘I will give you my life and you make me a good daddy,’ that’s all I wanted to be,” he said.

He worked as a used car salesman, realtor, and even a broker. But something was still missing in his life, Jones says. His daughter’s birth was a blessing, he said, and made him want to share with people his love for God. That’s when he decided to attend Calvary Chapel Bible College and graduated.

He concentrated on his family and helping the Church, he said. “I basically had given up on acting,” Jones said.

Years later, he found a casting call announcement on the Internet, and he went out and got a couple of headshots to audition for a role in “Los Traficantes,” a Spanish-language Christian film about a real drug dealer from Tijuana, Mexico.

Our pastor here at Calvary Chapel, Pastor Pancho Juarez, once told me, “don’t ever lose your dream as an actor, if the opportunity ever comes up, take it,” he said.

The low-budget movie was shot in Mexico. When he wasn’t acting, Jones would preach the gospel, always feeling that the crew was protected during their filming  in Mexico.

Los Traficantes is about God’s power to transform people’s lives from bad to good, and is based on the life of Esteban Mendoza Cruz, a former Mexican drug lord who in 1999 found his redemption through his faith in Christ, while serving a 33-year sentence in La Mesa prison in Tijuana. The prison, one of Mexico’s most corrupt, was called “El Pueblito” by locals that frequently entered to buy drugs, hire prostitutes, or carry out other legal activities.

Cruz is credited with taking over 4,000 men off the streets of Tijuana.

Jones had a chance to meet the former drug lord and watch the movie with him. Jones says Cruz told him he had perfectly portrayed the role of a lost soul who is now found and helps others through faith and prayer.

With all the bad stories of drugs and crime coming out of Mexico, this movie is about the good things few people ever hear about.

Asked if he was now going to pursue acting full-time, Jones responded that no matter what happens, he will preach God’s word for the rest of his life.

Los Traficantes opens Nov. 27 at the Noho Laemmle Theater in West L.A.

WWII Veterans Honored In Monterey Park

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

World War II veterans gathered this week at the American Legion Post 397 in Monterey Park where they were thanked for their service by Congresswoman Judy Chu and other members of the community.

The event, hosted by the post and the Lucille and Edward R. Roybal Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the late Los Angeles Congressman Edward R. Roybal, also a WWII veteran, included the telling the stories of some of the veterans in attendance.

Congresswoman Judy Chu thanks WWII veterans at a ceremony in Monterey Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Orange County Superior Court Judge Rick Aguirre served as the Master of Ceremonies and thanked the crowd of veterans for preserving the country’s freedom.

“The recognition of the sacrifice that these WWII men and women made must be acknowledged while they’re still alive and with us, and for the future,” Aguirre told EGP.

Chu presented certificates to the post and foundation and told the crowd she was happy the ceremony took place in her district.

“The fact that you have this in Monterey Park is an honor,” Chu told the crowd. “I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for our country.”

Roybal’s son, Edward R. Roybal, Jr., also spoke at the event that he said was the center for East Los Angeles veterans.

“Its long overdue that we celebrate these veterans from WWII,” Roybal told EGP. “They’re all in their late 80s or 90s so its one of the last opportunities to bring together this extraordinary collection of vets.”

Anne Vargas was one of the veterans honored at the ceremony. She was recognized for being one of the few women who served in the war.

“Its special just being a veteran,” Vargas told EGP. “But it was a honor to be recognized.”

Armando Lopez told EGP that as a veteran it was very emotional for him to hear the stories, but he feels people who do not take time to attend these types of events are missing out on history.

Bill Sanchez spoke about his experience as a prisoner of war. He told EGP that he was happy with the event but hopes the community acknowledges the sacrifices made by veterans.

“If [they] have time, they should visit a military cemetery and they will see that, that freedom is not free,” said Sanchez.

While Roybal said he was glad the event acknowledged the few men and woman left from WWII, he hopes future events include veterans from other eras.

“We have veterans coming home from this war and I think that in many cases they don’t come home to the kind of reception that WWII vets got when they returned,” Roybal told EGP.

Aguirre ended the ceremony by telling the crowd that although he highlighted some of the stories of the WWII veterans, there are many more experiences that should be shared.

“Recognizing Latinos who served in WWII allows us to know that Latinos served in every major battle in WW2II and were highly decorated,” Aguirre said.

Wells Fargo Commits $35 Million to Support Vets, Military Families

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Wells Fargo & Company is committing $35 million over the next three years to support military service members and veterans through hiring and mentoring services; customized financial education efforts; funding of scholarships and achieving homeownership.

And through the end of November, which also happens to be Military Family Appreciation Month, Wells Fargo customers can add their own support by making a donation at one of the company’s more than 12,000 ATMs across the U.S. (with the exception of Kansas, Missouri and Washington, D.C., due to local restrictions).

Through Nov. 30, customers will not be charged any fees for using the service and 100 percent of the donations will go to the selected nonprofits, Wells Fargo announced in a press statement.

“With this $35 million commitment it is Wells Fargo’s goal to have a role in our nation’s efforts to support military service members, veterans and their families,” said Jon Campbell, head of Wells Fargo Community and Government Relations.  “Our mission of helping our customers succeed financially holds especially true for the men and women who serve our country through the military. We are pleased to extend these efforts by also making it easy for customers to support military members by donating at our ATMs.”

The $35 million financial commitment is consistent with the three areas of support that Wells Fargo announced in September as its primary focus for supporting military service members and veterans: helping active duty military service members and veterans achieve homeownership, helping veterans transition to civilian careers and providing customized financial education, the company says.

For more information on transitioning careers, jobs for veterans, go to or, a coalition of 83 companies committed to hiring at least 100,000 veterans by 2020.

68th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Upcoming Events

The Highland Park Chamber of Commerce Presents the 68th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade on Sunday, Dec. 2nd at 1p.m. Parade begins at Ave. 60 and Figueroa St. and ends at Ave. 50 and Figueroa St., LA 90042. The parade theme is “People Helping People,” and it will include celebrities, marching bands, drill teams, equestrians, vintage cars, and much more. For more information, call the Chamber at (323) 256-3151.

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