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LOS ANGELES — A California sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot this weekend when his SWAT team tried to rescue people held hostage inside a San Joaquin Valley home by a man armed with an AK-47-style rifle and a handgun, authorities said Monday.Four other people were also killed in the shootout, including the gunman — who had been previously arrested multiple times for domestic violence offenses, according to Lt. Joel Swanson, a spokesperson for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.(Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).)Swanson did not know the specifics of the 41-year-old shooter’s previous arrests and he has not yet been named publicly. A restraining order against the gunman — filed by one of the victims and effective June 3 — was supposed to stop him from coming to the home where the killings occurred.Three people inside the home — believed to be the gunman’s sons and their mother — were fatally shot during the standoff Sunday afternoon in Wasco, a small community in the middle of farm fields northwest of Bakersfield.The woman had filed the restraining order, Swanson said, but authorities were still trying to determine what had prompted her to seek legal action against him. The restraining order was also supposed to prevent the gunman from having firearms.The shooting “has the implications of what we see in law enforcement when it comes to domestic violence and how serious it is,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said, “and, quite frankly, how a restraining order is not bulletproof.”Deputies shot and killed the suspect after he began climbing onto the home’s roof with the firearms.Youngblood identified the slain deputy as Phillip Campas and called him “a star in our organization.”Campas, 35, was a five-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and had previously served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. He was an instructor at the academy, as well as a member of the sheriff’s SWAT team and the honor guard.Campas is survived by his spouse and three children, ages 6, 9 and 13, according to the Kern Law Enforcement Association.“We thought he’d been here over 10 years, he’s had that kind of impact,” Youngblood said. “He was here for five.”Deputy Dizander Guerrero was wounded by gunfire and two deputies were struck by shrapnel during the violence.The violence began around 1 p.m., and included a 911 call that had an open line into the home, Youngblood said. The activity heard on the call led deputies to believe at least one person was still alive inside the home.“We felt obligated to go in and try and rescue that victim,” the sheriff said.Two women and two girls were able to escape the home safely, Youngblood said. Their relationship to the shooter and the other victims was not immediately clear, but Swanson said they were believed to be acquaintances of the woman and her sons.The victims inside the home — only described as the gunman’s 17- and 24-year-old sons and their 42-year-old mother — also have not been named publicly.The first deputies to arrive at the home, following multiple 911 calls, were met by one of the women who had escaped. She told them there was a gunman inside the house and two to three people had been shot.Within minutes, Youngblood said, the gunman started firing at the deputies from inside the house. A SWAT team, including Campas and Guerrero, approached the front door and encountered gunfire from a rifle. The deputies fired back at the shooter.Campas and Guerrero were struck and pulled to a safe location so they could be rushed to the hospital. The two deputies who were hit by shrapnel did not leave the standoff, the sheriff said.Over several hours, the suspect fired out of the house at the deputies. Around 6:30 p.m., the gunman climbed onto the roof with the rifle and handgun. Deputies fired at him, fatally striking him.Authorities found the other three victims dead inside the home.More than 100 deputies responded to the scene and 23 — some on the SWAT team and others who were close with Campas — are currently on administrative leave because of the shootings.The SWAT team members were off-duty and not responding to calls on Monday as they grieved.
The Los Angeles police chief says a catastrophic fireworks explosion that injured 17 people and rocked a neighborhood last month was likely caused by miscalculations from bomb techniciansBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJuly 19, 2021, 10:08 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — Los Angeles bomb technicians grossly miscalculated the weight of homemade fireworks last month when they detonated them in a containment chamber, likely causing a catastrophic explosion that injured 17 people and rocked a neighborhood, the police chief said Monday.Chief Michel Moore said five members of the department’s bomb squad have been removed from field duties as the investigation continues. They could face discipline.The explosion — which damaged dozens of homes, businesses and vehicles just days before July Fourth — was highly unusual, officials say, because such containment chambers are designed to withhold blasts. The bomb technicians overloaded it above the safety rating, however, even as authorities are investigating if the detonation device had a defect.The incident has prompted the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI to review police protocols regarding the detonation of explosives. The Police Department is now requiring a captain to sign off on detonations, in addition to the two bomb technicians and a supervisor who are already required.Residents in the neighborhood have called for accountability and asked why some people were still in their homes, despite a door-to-door evacuation order. Fireworks are illegal to sell or possess in Los Angeles and in unincorporated areas of the county.Moore announced the preliminary findings of the investigation during a media briefing Monday. The Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter and other organizations will have their own news conference on Tuesday to demand more answers and reparations for the residents who were hurt in the blast. Some victims have filed legal claims — the precursor to lawsuits — against the city.The explosion came after police had spent the day disposing of thousands of pounds (kilograms) of commercial-grade fireworks that were found in a South Los Angeles home following an early-morning tip. Those fireworks were detonated at an off-site location.Police arrested resident Arturo Ceja, 26, on suspicion of possessing a destructive device. Police believe the fireworks were bought in Nevada and taken to Los Angeles to sell in the neighborhood for use on the Fourth of July.Ceja was released on $500,000 bail and is due back in court in October. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.Officers also found homemade fireworks at the home that were leaking and the bomb squad decided to detonate them in the neighborhood — believing they were too unstable to transport elsewhere. They examined them by X-ray and robotics and loaded them into the detonation chamber, officially called a total containment vessel.The bomb technicians — without using a scale, as is allowed by Los Angeles police procedures to avoid additional handling of the unstable devices — estimated the weight of the homemade explosives and a counter-charge to be about 16.5 pounds (7.5 kilograms).They arrived at 16.5 pounds by estimating that the smaller explosives — there were 280 of them — each weighed about a half an ounce (14 grams) in a standard flash powder measurement. The bomb technicians estimated that the 44 larger explosives — which were about the size of a soda can with a fuse — had about 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) worth of flash powder.Federal authorities who weighed the remains after the blast calculated that the weight was actually more than 42 pounds (19 kilograms). The smaller explosives were actually 1.37 ounces (38.9 grams) and the larger ones were about 5 ounces (142 grams).The detonation chamber’s maximum capacity is 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) for multiple uses or 25 pounds (11 kilograms) for a single use, Moore said. The LAPD has not publicly identified the manufacturer of the detonation chamber, despite repeated requests.The truck-mounted chamber used during the June 30 explosion had been in service for a decade and this was its 42nd time in use.Nine police officers and a federal agent were among the injured. One officer was taken to the hospital and is now recovering at home.The department is also looking at the practices of bomb squads nationwide to see if its standards are up-to-date. If the Los Angeles bomb squad is found to have been following the police department’s protocol but, in fact, the department’s procedures turn out to be inaccurate, Moore said the technicians will not be disciplined.
Los Angeles police fatally shot a man who was carrying what turned out to be a replica handgun in the heart of HollywoodBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJuly 16, 2021, 1:20 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — Los Angeles police fatally shot a man Thursday who was carrying what turned out to be a replica handgun on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, authorities said.A woman suffered a minor injury to her lower body, but the Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately know how she had been hurt. She was taken to the hospital.Officers responded to Hollywood Boulevard around 11:20 a.m. following reports of a man walking around with a handgun along the Walk of Fame. At least one person reported seeing him pointing a gun at someone.Officers arrived to find a man who matched the description and at least one officer fired their weapon.The shooting occurred near the famed corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, and less than a block from the Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars are normally presented.Police did not say what prompted the shooting or whether any de-escalation methods were attempted first. The fake handgun was recovered at the scene.“I’m just told that it appears to be exactly like a gun,” said LAPD Detective Meghan Aguilar, a police spokesperson, during a media briefing at the scene.It was not immediately clear how many officers opened fire, or how many times the man had been struck.“Exactly what the suspect did with that handgun that led the officers to fire at him will be determined” by looking at videos and interviewing witnesses, Aguilar said.The shooting caused bedlam on the busy street.“People started scrambling, and there’s kids crying and moms trying to get out of there and tourists confused, and then of course everyone’s cellphones started popping out,” witness Eddie Lopez told the Los Angeles Times. “It was wild.”“People started running around” when the gunfire erupted, witness Carlos Monroy told KTLA. Monroy said he saw police trying to resuscitate the man.The man, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at a hospital. It appears he was in his 40s or 50s. No officers were hurt.Detectives are interviewing witnesses to the shooting, as well as people may have been assaulted by the man before police encountered him.Aguilar said police will look at body-worn camera footage, as well as surveillance video, that may have captured the shooting.The incident takes place just eight days after the state attorney general announced new protocols that will send a team of investigators from the California Department of Justice to probe when a police officer fatally shoots an unarmed civilian.The move comes after state lawmakers passed legislation giving the attorney general new responsibilities in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.The state attorney general’s office said its investigators were sent to Los Angeles.
Rocker Marilyn Manson surrendered to police in Los Angeles in connection with a 2019 arrest warrant out of New Hampshire where he allegedly assaulted a videographer at a concertBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJuly 9, 2021, 6:47 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — Rocker Marilyn Manson surrendered to police in Los Angeles last week in connection with a 2019 arrest warrant out of New Hampshire where he allegedly assaulted a videographer at a concert, authorities said.Manson, whose legal name is Brian Hugh Warner, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of simple assault stemming from an alleged incident on Aug. 19, 2019 at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford.Gilford police Chief Anthony J. Bean Burpee said Thursday that Manson had turned himself into law enforcement in Los Angeles the week before. Manson was booked and released without bail pending a court appearance in New Hampshire.Manson’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.The victim, a videographer, was in the venue’s stage pit area at the time of the alleged assault, Gilford police previously said. The misdemeanor charges can each result in a jail sentence of less than a year and a $2,000 fine if convicted.Los Angeles Police Capt. Brent McGuyre confirmed Manson’s surrender to The Associated Press. Manson turned himself in at the department’s Hollywood station on July 2 and was processed on the warrant before being released.“This is consistent with anybody who has a misdemeanor warrant that is not local,” McGuyre said.Manson also has faced abuse accusations — unrelated to the New Hampshire incident — in recent years. He has denied wrongdoing.In February, actor Evan Rachel Wood publicly accused Manson, her ex-fiancé, of sexual and other physical abuse, alleging she was “manipulated into submission” during their relationship. Months later, “Game of Thrones” actor Esmé Bianco sued Manson in federal court in Los Angeles, alleging sexual, physical and emotional abuse.The AP generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, but Bianco and Wood have spoken publicly.In 2018, Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file charges against Manson over allegations of assault, battery and sexual assault dating to 2011, saying they were limited by statutes of limitations and a lack of corroboration. The accuser in that case was identified only as a social acquaintance of Manson.
Authorities say they seized $1 billion worth of illegal marijuana in the largest bust in Los Angeles County historyBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJuly 7, 2021, 8:59 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — The largest illegal marijuana bust in Los Angeles County history — which netted 373,000 plants that would ultimately have been worth $1 billion on the street — eradicated only a fraction of the illicit grows in the Southern California high desert, authorities said Wednesday.The problem is wide-ranging in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, officials said, and has grown tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic. Armed cartel members run massive illegal grows, some spanning dozens of greenhouses, that are detrimental to the state’s legal marijuana market.Multiple law enforcement agencies carried out a 10-day operation in the Antelope Valley last month that resulted in 131 arrests and the seizure of more than 33,000 pounds (14,969 kilograms) of harvested marijuana plants.Yet the undertaking only demolished 205 illegal grows out of the 500 seen by aerial surveillance in the area. Last year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said only 150 illegal grows were identified in the Antelope Valley. Scores more exist in other nearby counties.The cartel members threaten residents and steal millions of gallons of water amid a severe drought, Villanueva said. The growing operations have poisoned streams and groundwater with harmful pesticides and harmed wildlife and plants.California broadly legalized recreational marijuana sales in January 2018. But the black market is thriving, in part because hefty legal marijuana taxes send consumers looking for better deals.Officials sought to differentiate between the Antelope Valley operation and the legal market.“This is not a war on the legal cannabis business in California,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the area.
A passenger who tried to break into an airplane cockpit last week had recently been under the influence of methamphetamine before he jumped from the moving plane in Los AngelesBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJune 29, 2021, 1:15 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — A passenger who tried to break into an airplane cockpit last week had recently been under the influence of methamphetamine before he jumped from the moving plane in Los Angeles, authorities said Monday.Luis Antonio Victoria Dominguez of La Paz, Mexico, broke his leg Friday when he opened the plane’s emergency exit and jumped to the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.He underwent surgery and is expected to appear in federal court this week on a charge of interference with a flight crew, which could bring 20 years in prison if he is convicted.It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.A criminal complaint released Monday gave new details about the incident and Victoria Dominguez’s life in the days prior.The 33-year-old arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the complaint says. His plan was to get to Salt Lake City, but he did not have a connecting flight. He spent the night at a hotel in downtown Los Angeles after drinking several beers and buying “a lot” of crystal meth for $20, he told the FBI.The next day, he continued to smoke the crystal meth and decided to fly to Utah instead of taking a bus, the complaint says. He smoked more of the drug before heading to the airport Thursday but ultimately missed his flight and wandered the streets through the night.On Friday, he missed a second flight but was rescheduled to board United Airlines Flight 5365, operated by SkyWest Airlines, to Salt Lake City. Victoria Dominguez took his seat and began to doze as he “was coming down from all the drugs he had used the last couple of days,” the complaint says.The passenger sitting next to Victoria Dominguez told authorities that he kept looking around and fidgeting. He asked her where she was going, and she said it was not his business. She said he then whispered to her that he needed to get off the plane and was going to jump out. “I’m serious,” he said.Victoria Dominguez, however, told the FBI that he had he heard other passengers laugh and say they were going to a different destination, the complaint says. He panicked. He “sprinted” toward a flight attendant at the front of the plane around 7 p.m. and said he wasn’t feeling well and needed to get off the flight.The flight attendant said the plane was about to take off and they began to struggle, the complaint says. He pounded on the locked cockpit door and tried to open it as the flight attendant prayed the pilots — who were confused by the banging — would not open the door, according to the document.Victoria Dominguez wrenched open the emergency exit door and the emergency slide deployed, according to the complaint, as the flight attendant called the pilots to stop the plane.He told the FBI that his panic attack potentially “gave him the strength to open the door.” The aircraft, which had not been moving before, began to roll as Victoria Dominguez struggled with a passenger who was trying to restrain him.Victoria Dominguez got away and jumped from the aircraft, missing the emergency slide and landing on the tarmac, breaking his right leg. He was trying to crawl away from the plane when he was apprehended.
A former Chicago businessman will remain in the United States as a federal judge in Los Angeles weighs whether he will be extradited to India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than 160 peopleBy STEFANIE DAZIO Associated PressJune 25, 2021, 1:03 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLOS ANGELES — A former Chicago businessman will remain in the United States as a federal judge in Los Angeles weighs whether he will be extradited to India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than 160 people.Tahawwur Rana (tuh-HOW’-ur RAH’-nah), a Pakistani-born Canadian, is wanted by Indian authorities for his alleged involvement in the deadly attacks that are sometimes referred to as India’s 9/11. An Indian warrant for his arrest was issued in August 2018.Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian on Thursday ordered the defense attorneys and prosecutors to file additional documents by July 15. Rana will remain in federal custody.Indian authorities allege that Rana conspired with his childhood friend David Coleman Headley to assist the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, or “Army of the Good,” in the orchestration of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, injured more than 200 and caused $1.5 billion in damage.Headley and Rana attended military high school in Pakistan together. Rana’s immigration law center in Chicago, as well as a satellite office in Mumbai, was allegedly used as a front for their terrorism activities between 2006 and 2008, prosecutors say.Rana’s attorneys said their client was not aware of Headley’s terrorism plot and was merely trying to help his childhood friend and set up a Mumbai business office. They also said Headley is a serial liar who has deceived the U.S. government multiple times in several criminal cases, and his testimony should not be viewed as credible. The attorneys alleged that Headley had used Rana to further his terrorism efforts without Rana’s knowledge.Rana’s two daughters attended the hearing. They declined to comment, as did his lawyers.Rana wore a white jumpsuit and black glasses, as well as a mask at the hearing. His ankles were shackled.Only one of the 10 Mumbai terrorists survived the four-day rampage and went on trial. He was convicted, sentenced to death in India and hanged.In 2011, Rana was convicted in federal court in Illinois of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism in Denmark for a thwarted plot to attack a Danish newspaper to retaliate for its publication of cartoons that depicted the Prophet Mohamed in 2005. The cartoons angered many Muslims because pictures of the prophet are prohibited in Islam.U.S. prosecutors, however, failed to prove that Rana had directly supported the Mumbai attacks. Rana’s defense attorneys, in court papers, say because he has been acquitted of the Mumbai-related charges in the U.S., extraditing him to India would be tantamount to double jeopardy.Rana was sentenced to a 14-year prison term in Denmark-related case, but his punishment was reduced to time served in June 2020 after he claimed he had contracted the coronavirus in a federal California prison, court documents show. He was ordered released but was held on an immigration detainer so he could not return to Canada to avoid the Indian extradition request.Headley ultimately testified against Rana in the Illinois case after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder. As part of his plea deal, he can’t be extradited to India.