Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Case For Bulletproof Greaves

Los Angeles, CA

Spend enough time around firearms or pubescent boys and eventually you'll hear the phrase "accidental discharge". This is bad.

By way of example, let's look at Officer Peter Lee, 42, a fifteen year veteran of the LAPD, who was struck in the back of the knee when Officer Hector Villanueva's weapon had an "accidental discharge" while preparing for a training exercise.

Villanueva picked up the wrong gun, a loaded Glock instead of the blank firing, practice pistol and was pointing it in the wrong direction when he went to test it.

Oops.

Firearms classes are kind of like car races. They only get exciting when somebody does something stupid. A friend of mine's dad was a safety instructor at a range years ago and shot himself in the foot when his rifle accidentally went off during a class. Much sturm und drang, as one would expect. They managed to save his foot, but I think it shattered his big toe, or something. Or maybe it was just his dignity.

Officer Lee is, thankfully, in stable condition and Officer Villanueva, I suspect, is mightily embarrassed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When Sex At Work Is A Bad Idea

Los Angeles, CA

Some places are just not good for gettin' busy. The upstairs boardroom with the video conferencing cameras, behind the altar at Saint Joseph's, Juvenile Hall.

Kimberly Holt, 34, has been arrested for alleged oral copulation of a minor. She was a custodian at Central Juvenile Hall where the "act" (reminds me of that Lenny Bruce skit about the Masked Man) occurred. No details on when the blowjob occurred, to whom the blowjob was given, the age of the blowjobee, or, in fact, if it actually was a blowjob.

Either way, if your going down on someone gets into the news, it's generally bad.

Not Exactly "Low Profile"

Lake Forest, CA

Juan Gutierrez Bahena had been deported to Mexico about a month ago for drug possession. Perhaps just to show how porous our borders really are, he decided to come back. Unfortunately, for him, he also seems to have decided to watch a 12-year-old boy shower through his window and flash his goodies at random passersby.

Good way to not attract attention, Juan. Nobody pays attention to peeping toms and flashers. Except for the nice gentlemen of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Of course, when you resist arrest, they stop being the nice gentlemen and turn into the pain wielding monsters with tasers.

Look on the bright side, Juan, at least they didn't use their batons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Cleaner by Brett Battles

Los Angeles, CA

My good friend Brett Battles' debut novel, The Cleaner, hits the shelves today.

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this a couple months back, and oh my god is it good. If you like international spy thrillers, you'll love this.

The story centers around Jonathon Quinn, a freelance cleaner. He makes problems go away. Crime scenes, bodies, you name it. If things go to shit and you don't want anyone to know about it, you call him. When contracted by an organization known only as "The Office" to look into a fire that killed a viral biologist, Quinn finds himself the target of an assassination attempt and one of the last men standing after a massive hit on The Office's top operatives. The story takes Quinn to Asia and Europe as he tries to find who's behind the plot.

Battles has a remarkable gift for pacing, and has created a fascinating character in Quinn. A meticulous and thoughtful strategist, Quinn is not James Bond, but rather a more human character who uses his brain rather than his fists but can still kick all kinds of ass when he has to. This is one series to watch out for. I don't want to predict a long and happy life for Quinn, but only because I said Van Halen would never break up once and look what happeend. This thing is too good to jinx. But as long as he keeps putting out books, I can promise you won't be disappointed.

Brett will be signing next week, Saturday, July 7th, at The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. Go pick up a copy and say hi. Brett's a really cool guy and goddamn funny, so if you go to his signing, not only will you be picking up a great book, but you'll be hanging out with someone worth hanging out with.

And, just so you know, Brett is nothing like Quinn, and is, in fact easily snuck up on. Just in case you want to pick his pockets at the signing, or anything.

Monday, June 25, 2007

And I Thought It Was Snickers That Really Satisfied

Los Angeles, CA

Sakineh Lloyd, 47, was picked up at Los Angeles International Airport after being caught with 7 kilos of opium wrapped up as Milky Way bars.

Now, a Milky way bar is about 58 grams. She was hauling 7 kilos, so that's about 120 Milky Way bars. Who the fuck brings cases of Milky Way Bars into the United States? From Iran? That's like shipping Guinness to England, or smuggling pot into Hawai'i. No wonder they grabbed her.

Though she was picked up in September, she's been out on a million bucks bail since January. Her preliminary hearing is set for July 24th. The wheels of justice move slowly. I suspect, though, that the Feds have been using this time to look at her a little more closely. I'm willing to bet that new charges are going to appear soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It Wouldn't Be Summer Without A Red Flag Warning

Los Angeles, CA

Ah, the first day of summer. String bikinis on the beach, Mai Tais at Duke's on PCH, cool breezes coming off the coast.

Oh yeah, and brushfires. It's the driest season on record. Five times drier than normal. Which means anything with vegetation is now a massive fire hazard.

Summer in Los Angeles. Burn, baby, burn.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don't Piss Off The Coast Guard

Santa Ana, CA

Last August, Daniel Fairnholt was sentenced to 10 years in prison after faking his own death to avoid prosecution on child molestation charges.

Yesterday, he got an additional year for identity theft and for triggering an unnecessary Coast Guard search for the distress call he put out after staging is death on his boat.

Turns out the Coast Guard doesn't like it when they have to waste their time on asshats. Go figure.

I Believe The Word You're Looking For Is "Bomb"

Torrance, CA

Back when I was a kid it was considered fun to set off cherry bombs under coffee cans to watch the can go flying into the air. Loud as fuck, but for the most part no harm, no foul.

It takes on a slightly different tone when it wakes up everyone in the neighborhood and blows out your car's windows.

Seems somebody set off a bomb over around 214th street and Denker. That's not far from the 204th street territory where 14-year-old Cheryl Green was shot last December for being the wrong color on the wrong side of the street.

What do you want to bet this gets a Gang tag soon?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Smacking Down The Rollin' 20s

Long Beach, CA

Six of ten people suspected of involvement with the Rollin' 20s Crips gang have been arrested in a series of raids for drug trafficking. Of the remaining four, one is already in state prison, and the other three are still out there.

Now, this isn't your typical drug raid. It wasn't designed to disrupt the flow of drugs as much as it was the flow of cash. These ten people are considered some of the linchpins in the Rollin' 20s drug trade, which is what they use for funding. Essentially, the Feds hit 'em in the wallet.

There are about 400 different gangs throughout the Southland, with about 39,000 documented members. Most of them are small, neighborhood based groups whose territory covers only a small area. Not all of them are engaged in the kind of criminal activity that Rollin' 20s are. You know, murder, drugs, weapons trafficking, that sort of thing.

Thing is, just like governments, companies and terrorist groups, they can't do anything without cash.

This won't bring them down, obviously. These groups are far too resilient for that. But it should put a cramp on their style.

Goodbye Goofy Hat, Hello Ladscape Bandit

Anaheim, CA

There's a new bank robber in town. Goes by the name of The Landscape Bandit. Why?

Because he smells like dirt.

Yep. He's got the strong stink of fresh soil on him. Strong enough that the tellers can smell him on the other side of the counter. He's described as a 35- to 40-year-old dark-haired Hispanic or white man, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. So far, no one's seen a getaway car.

I'm betting it's a beat up Chevy truck with a lawnmower in the back.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Goofy Hat's Movin' Down

Ladera Heights, CA

He used to be be known as The Pershing Square Bandit. O, how the mighty have fallen.

William Vance Turner, 56, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of being The Goofy Hat Bandit, named for his poor taste in headwear and penchant for robbing banks. During the nineties he served 9 years for robbery after hitting a bunch of banks in Pershing Square, hence his previous name.

Turner was still on probation during his latest stint of robberies, and was recognized by a probation officer. Guess those hats weren't fooling anyone.

All told, he's suspected of hitting about 40 banks as the Goofy Hat. He hit about 30 as The Pershing Square Bandit. Prolific bastard, ain't he?

Have fun in prison, Bill. Stick with Pershing Square. Guys named Goofy Hat get beat up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chief Willie Speaks

Hollywood, CA

Zócalo, public square in Spanish, is a series of lectures covering a variety of cultural and political topics in Los Angeles. Authors, politicians, professors, musicians. They're all across the board. Last night they hosted LAPD Chief William Bratton in an interview with Jim Newton, Editorial Page editor of the L.A. Times.

That boy is one slick politician. He's up for a second term and he'll probably get it. Crime has dropped substantially in the four and a half years since he came into the job with no significant increase in officers (about 200). The tragedies and missteps of the LAPD have been, let's be honest, light (and yes, I'm including MacArthur Park and Devin Brown here) compared to the kind of crap that has plagued the department in the past.

Essentially the evening was one more opportunity to sell himself to the community before the police commission decides whether to renew his contract. Regardless of the political stance, it was a very interesting evening. He outlined his goals for the department (or "depahtment" as he calls it), breaking it down into three areas. Reducing crime, prepping the city for terrorism and embracing the consent decree.

It's this third one that I find interesting. In the past, the LAPD has fought tooth and nail on the consent decree, stalling, side-stepping and generally whining that they shouldn't have that level of oversight. It's not surprising that Bratton is all for it, of course. He was one of the police advisors who helped design it, after all.

But his stance on it shows something that the LAPD hasn't really embraced, at least not in the community's eyes. Accountability. The department has maintained a level of isolation from the community that has been shifting for the better ever since he came into the job.

At one point, there was a comment that not releasing the names of officers involved in shootings shows a lack of accountability on the force's part.

His response was very telling. First, he's publicly stated that he is for releasing the names of officers. I heard him last night, in fact. Other police forces do it, after all. There should be nothing wrong with doing it in Los Angeles. Only, turns out, it's illegal here. Can't do it, no matter what the commission wants.

Regardless, when it comes down to it, the LAPD has the most oversight of any police force in the nation. There's the Civilian Commission, with some downright hostile members, which Bratton reports to. There's the Inspector General, the Federal Monitor, the 15 city council members and the Mayor. Not to mention a population that would happily climb through the LAPD's colon with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. And does so on a regular basis.

The man knows his shit. He covered a lot of ground without having to consult notes, or say "uh," a lot. He put some things into perspective that, though I've known them for a long time, had never quite done this particular math. The LAPD covers 480 square miles, as opposed to New York's 300, and he has about 500 officers (out of a total of 9,456) activated at any one time. Compare that to the 4 - 5,000 officers activated that he had in New York. Most of these are A cars, two officers per vehicle.

That gives him an average of about 1 cop per square mile. In some cases, depending on deployment, he may have only 3 cars in a 40 square mile area. Taking that into account, the fact that the LAPD has reduced the average response time to about 7 minutes is pretty goddamn impressive.

And then there was The Chief's Blackberry.

I'm a data whore. Give me instant access to facts and figure and I start drooling. I want this man's Blackberry.

He gets updates six times a day on deployment numbers; active officers, cars, how many officers are reporting to how many sergeants, etc. Every time there's a report of an officer involved shooting he gets pinged. He pulled it out and rattled off the day's numbers as of 12:55 that afternoon, the last time he had gotten an update. Somebody asks him a question, he's got the data right there. Not that he seemed to need it. Like I said, this man knows his shit.

The audience itself was pretty staid. Mostly white, elderly, middle to upper class. Some students in the audience who, obviously, came as part of a school assignment. There was one obvious crackpot. A conspiracy theory nut looking like he'd just escaped Santa Cruz. I made a point of talking to him because that's the sort of thing that I do. Except for his insistence that 9/11 was staged, he was pretty lucid. I was hoping for more of a rant beyond his screaming at Bratton's back as he was escorted to his car at the end of the evening.

Oh well, maybe next time.

L.A. Noir Goes CSI

The Centre For Neuroskills has a bunch of nifty animations of brain injuries, showing what happens in your head when you, for instance, get shot in it.

Hat tip to Mind Hacks for the link.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Blame Agatha Christie

Garden Grove, CA

Poisonings aren't something you see very often in real life. Inside Agatha Christie novels, sure. Or books with wine tasting murders, psychic cats and recipes in the back for "Killer Desserts". I think I just had an anyeurysm writing that. And why is it we never see psychic wombats? Or wallabies? Is it me or are Australian marsupials underrepresented in cozies?

Occasionally, though, an enterprising psycho takes a page from the fictional demise of some opera singer, wealthy ingenue or blackmailing vicar and gives somebody a lethal dose of something nasty. Like cocaine.

Shawn Lawrence Putansu was convicted Friday to life in prison without possibility of parole for the murder of his lawyer girlfriend, Melissa Mitchell, in her Laguna Niguel home back in 2005. He injected her with a lethal dose of cocaine and was found later that day standing naked atop her building and threatening to kill himself. He pretty much confessed to the cops right there.

This is why people shouldn't read cozies. Gives them ideas. Cocaine in lawyers today, curare in Mrs. Anderhaven-Smythe, nosy neighbor and vitriolic head of the Somerset Ladies Knitting Circle and Investment Club tomorrow.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Boys Are Stupid #19,287 - Don't Punch Your Girlfriend

Corona, CA

Christopher Welch, 19, was involved in a high speed chase Friday night. After crashing the truck, he bolted and the police lost him.

But, as luck would have it, Mr. Welch is an asshat. He went to his girlfriend, demanded that he let him use her cell phone and when she refused, he punched her. So she called the cops on him.

When Police found him they realized who they had and arrested him on a whole load of stuff; suspicion of evading police, driving with a suspended license, assault with a deadly weapon and some unspecified domestic violence charges.

And Nobody Had A Nailgun?

North Hollywood, CA

Home Depot. Purveyor of cheap tools, bad service and worse security.

I have to say, this is one of the more intelligent robberies you hear about. Guy with a gun hits a service entrance at the Home Depot on Sherman Way near Lankershim around 1:30 in the morning. Catches folks restocking and locks the manager and an employee in the vault after divesting it of an undisclosed amount of cash.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Smith & Wesson - A Cure For What Ails Ya

San Fernando, CA

"I love my brother, but I think he's very sick. He needs help."
These are the words of the sister of Marcus Fennell Pierce, 39, who was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in prison for forcible child molestation and criminal threats and admitted to allegations of inflicting great bodily injury during a sex crime.

She's also the mother of the 12-year-old girl that Marcus beat and raped last February when he was staying with them after being released from prison less than two weeks before for forced oral copulation on a 14-year-old. Seems he told her he'd gone in for a DUI and a hit and run.

According to police, on February 13th, Pierce "...ordered the girl into the master bedroom, where he locked the door. He then pushed her onto a bed and tried to remove her pants, and when she resisted, he punched her repeatedly in the head and face..." Beat her so severely that she had to be hospitalized.

Prosecutors didn't want the girl to have to testify, so they floated a plea bargain, which still sends him up for 30 years, give or take. I wonder how long he could have been put away for had it gone to trial.

So, yes, he's a very sick man. And he needs help. Might I recommend a dose of the 158 grain Federal HydraShok JHP in .357 Magnum? I think it just might take care of that little pedophile problem you got there.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I Knew They Could Write, But They Can Talk, Too?

Brett Battles and the pretentiously named Rob Gregory Browne, are a couple of writers. Rob's debut novel, "Kiss Her Goodbye", came out recently and Brett's novel, "The Cleaner", comes out later this month.

Oddly enough, they actually seem to know what they're doing. Who'da thunk? Both books are fantastic, compelling and all around better to read than use as doorstops. I highly recommend you pick these up. They're worth it.

And I wouldn't lie to you. Unless I was getting paid, of course. And getting so much as a thin dime out of these cheap bastards is like milking stone.

Anyway, not content to merely write books, Brett and Rob have decided to let their collective know-how leak into the aether via a series of podcasts on their website, www.battlesandbrowne.com.

Today's installation, "Character Is King", is about, surprise, characters. Specifically, ideas on creating compelling characters in your writing. Take a listen.

And should you feel up for it, you can subscribe to their weekly podcast here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why Use A Door When A Sledgehammer Will Do?

Santa Clarita, CA

Back in the 19th Century there was a guy, Adam Worth, who Conan Doyle is said to have used as the template for Sherlock Holmes' nemesis, Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime. In one of his earliest jobs, he set up shop with a fake storefront advertising various patent medicines. He and his crew then spent the next few months tearing out the wall of their storage room.

Which just happened to butt up against the bank vault next door.

Two hundred years later, following in the footsteps of, if not greatness then at least stubborn doggedness, three people broke into an AT&T store in Santa Clarita by breaking into a storage room next door and tunneling through the wall. They stole an undisclosed number of phones.

Phones. Not cash, not the Mona Lisa. Phones.

I swear, I have no respect for criminals these days.

Irreconcilable Differences

Newport Beach, CA

The Irreconcilable Differences Bandit, so called because he mentioned to the teller at his first robbery that he was going through a divorce, hit his 16th bank yesterday in Newport Beach. Last Saturday he hit a bank in Santa Barbara and Friday he hit one in Burbank, but didn't get any cash there. So, just to make up for the lost revenue, he hit another bank in Burbank and then one in Glendale.

He's a busy boy, ain't he?

He's been active since December. So, I have to wonder, why the sudden increase in robberies? He says he's going through hard times. Jesus, man. How hard can they be? Keep up the frequency and you're gonna get caught, and then the hard times are really gonna hit.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quiet Dignity And Grace

Norwalk, CA

When a young man sees his ex-girlfriend, say, the mother of his child, and she's with another guy, he's got a few options. Be a man, accept that life has moved on and there are things in this new life to process and accept. Let her go and know that you've grown as a human being, taken some strong, if tentative, steps into adulthood and gained some of the calm perspective that age and rationality brings.

Or you can torch her car and run away.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

One More Weasel For The Irony Archives

Los Angeles, CA

Oh, Hector. You really screwed the pooch on this one, didn't you?

Hector "Big Weasel" Marroquin is the founder of the anti-gun and gang group "No Guns". He's been cited as having done a lot of good work for teens and against gang violence as an "ex" member of hte 18th Street Gang. Of course, that's the public story.

Back in March of last year, his son, aptly known as "Little Weasel" was nabbed in relation to a home invasion robbery. Hector himself was picked up for an illegal weapons charge and his daughter, Charleeda, got popped on suspicion of meth and marijuana possession.

Well, now Hector's really fucked up.
Hector "Big Weasel" Marroquin, 51 -- who founded the one-time city-funded group "No Guns" in 1996, purportedly to work against gang and gun violence in the inner city -- is charged with the sale of an assault rifle, a machine gun, two pistols and two silencers, Susan Raichel, a spokeswoman with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms told the Los Angeles Times.
When i first heard of Hector, in relation to his arrest last year, my take was that here's a guy who's doing something to make some changes. At what point does he get to find redemption? Then, just to point my hubris out to me, I got a few interesting bits of info on Hector and the fact that he's maybe not as squeaky clean as he was purported to be.

The most disturbing part of this whole saga is that, at one point, No Guns received over a million dollars as part of the city's anti-gang program, L.A. Bridges. I have to wonder what that money really went to buy.

It's A Crime

Los Angeles, CA

Some crime reporters over at the L.A. Daily News have put together a blog on L.A. crime called, suitably, It's A Crime.

I don't know how long it's been out. I just found out about it this morning. Congratulations to Jason Kandel, Rick Coca, Rachel Uranga and Brent Hopkins on a nicely done site and some fantastic writing.

Go read.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I Blame Those Fucking Turtles

Bakersfield, CA

Donatello, Raphael, Luigi, whatever the fuck those ninja turle things are called. I can remember all the Marx Brothers (Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo, Karl), but I can't remember my Renaissance Ninjas to save my soul. But I'm betting Arnold Devries can.

Devries was arrested Wednesday at work, the Dreyer's ice cream plant in Bakersfield. Seems he showed up counter to the dress code. They frown on masks in the workplace, apparently. As well as replica machine guns and cutting random women with swords.
Devries apparently grabbed the woman and put the sword to her neck because she was the first person he encountered, but police still don't know the motive for the early morning attack.
Here's a thought. Because he's off his nut?

Caught In The Headlights

Glendale, CA

Nobody looks good in a mugshot. Some better than others, true. Take Vachagan Arakelyan up there for instance. He looks a lot better than that Baldwin guy a few months ago. At least he looks like he's bathed recently. Is it me, or does he look surprised? He probably shouldn't, all things considered.
An 18-year-old North Hollywood man was behind bars Thursday for allegedly leading police on a 30-minute pursuit that began in Glendale and ended on the Hollywood (170) Freeway, officials said.
Turns out the car was stolen. Whoops. Oh yeah, and he almost hit a bunch of pedestrians. He's being held on $75,000.00 bail for felony evading and assault with a deadly weapon.

It occurs to me that some of my readers might find a link to Bail Bondsmen in the Glendale area useful.