Lynwood school board gets report on high school building

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NEWS DIGEST

Staff and Wire Reports

LYNWOOD — Following the collapse of some exterior ceiling panels at Lynwood High School, the school district reported Nov. 9 that there is evidence of more extensive construction issues on campus.

Lynwood Unified officials said an engineering review, which is still in progress, began after some outdoor soffit panels on one building unexpectedly failed on June 16. No one was injured in the collapse, which occurred over summer break at the 22-year-old facility.

The school board approved the removal of the soffits across campus and launched a joint review with the Division of the State Architect, as well as worked with the firm Peter Sarkis-Petra Structural Engineers.

Preliminary findings indicate that “more extensive construction issues may exist,” according to a district statement.

Lynwood Unified is conducting a thorough and intensive investigation into construction issues at Lynwood High School,” Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Our district places the highest priority on the safety of our students and staff, and we are determined to provide the top-quality facilities our community deserves.”

The school board received an update on the review during a special meeting Nov. 8.

Lynwood Unified is committed to serving our students and community with integrity, transparency and tenacity,” school board President Gary Hardie Jr. said. “We are conducting a thorough review of the buildings on this campus as we prioritize the continued safety of our students and staff, with open communications with our community.”

Construction of Lynwood High School began in January 1995. The $98.4 million school partially opened with substantial completion in 1998. Final construction work was completed in July 2000.

Norwalk seeks

state park grant

NORWALK — City officials would like to give southside residents a New Year’s present, an $8.5 million upgrade of Hermosillo Park.

The City Council Nov. 17 agreed to resubmit a request for a state grant. That grant was denied in August 2019, but the city is eligible to seek a new grant, according to a report from City Engineer Glen W. C. Kau, Christine Roberto, public services manager; and Elizabeth Rock, recreation superintendent.

The report anticipates that the state will notify applicants by next summer if the application is successful.

“The grant would provide funds to build a new community center and multiple sports fields and amenities at the park,” the report said.

The city was notified last February that the 2019 application was not approved, but was competitive. The city can resubmit the grant application for the 2020 Round 4 cycle, which will award $395 million in grants.

Applications are due by Dec. 14.

The maximum funding request is $8.5 million with no city match required. If the grant is approved, a funding allocation will be brought back to the City Council for the 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

by Arnold Adler

Whittier police

shoot murder suspect

SANTA FE SPRINGS — A man suspected of stabbing a woman to death and critically injuring another man was shot and killed Nov. 9 by a Whittier Police Department officer after charging the officer while armed with a knife, authorities said.

Police received a 911 call about 5:50 p.m. during which they heard screaming in the background and believed there was a crash at the intersection of Telegraph Road and Norwalk Boulevard, according to Deputy Tracy Koerner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is assisting the Whittier Police Department with the investigation.

The first officer to arrive at the scene encountered the armed man, who charged the officer, prompting the shooting, Koerner said.

A preliminary investigation determined a man and woman were in a vehicle with the suspect and both had been stabbed by the suspect and taken to a hospital, where the woman was pronounced dead and the man was in critical condition. The suspect was also taken to a hospital where he died, Koerner said.

Lynwood shooting

victim identified

LYNWOOD — Authorities have identified a man who was fatally shot in an apparent gang-related attack by an assailant who remains at large.

Levar Mathews, 42, of Lynwood died at the scene of the shooting, which occurred about 11:20 a.m. Nov. 16 in the 12700 block of Atlantic Avenue, according to the coroner’s office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The suspect, described only as a male, sped off in a dark sedan southbound on Atlantic Avenue and westbound on Rosecrans Avenue, the sheriff’s department reported.

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Suspect sought

in sexual assault

BELL GARDENS — Authorities are seeking the public’s help to find a man who allegedly sexually assaulted an employee in the women’s bathroom of Petco’s Bell Gardens store.

The assault was reported about 4 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Petco in the 6800 block of Eastern Avenue, according to Lt. Efren Aguirre of the Bell Gardens Police Department.

The suspect, who was armed with scissors, “followed the victim to the restroom where he forced entry into the bathroom and sexually assaulted the victim,” Aguirre said.

The victim suffered injuries on her face, an arm and legs, according to Sgt. Angelo Sinisi.

She screamed for help and was able to fight the suspect off, Sinisi said. The suspect fled the store and was last seen walking toward Eastern Avenue.

KCAL9 reported that the victim was an employee of the Petco, and the suspect lingered around the restrooms for about 20 minutes before forcing his way into the bathroom.

The suspect is described as between 25 and 35 years old, between 5 feet, 4 inches tall and 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a medium build and a flat-top style haircut, Aguirre said.

He was wearing a blue face mask, white T-shirt, dark-colored jeans, white shoes and thick-framed glasses, according to Aguirre.

Anyone with information about the suspect was urged to call Sinisi at (562) 806-7694 or the Bell Gardens Police Department dispatch center at (562) 806-7600.

Off-duty deputy

shot in City Terrace

CITY TERRACE — The shooting of an off-duty deputy in the East Los Angeles area may have been motivated by a dispute at a nearby birthday party, sheriff’s investigators reported.

The shooting occurred about 2:25 a.m. Nov. 15 as the deputy drove his vehicle in the 800 block of North Hazard Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

A man about 20 years old fired at the deputy while he was seated in his vehicle, then ran off, the sheriff’s department reported.

The deputy, who returned fire, drove himself to a hospital, where he was treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Authorities said there were two other people in the deputy’s vehicle, and they were not injured.

Detectives are investigating reports that the suspect’s assault was motivated by an earlier verbal altercation at a nearby birthday party between the suspect and one of the occupants of the off-duty deputy’s vehicle,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement Nov. 18.

No physical description of the suspect was released, but investigators said he was wearing a red sweatshirt and black shorts.

Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives urged anyone with information regarding the shooting to call them at (323) 890-5500.

Detectives probe

woman’s death

NORWALK — Homicide detectives investigated a woman’s death Nov. 16.

Investigators were sent to the area of Alondra Boulevard and Wilder Avenue about 11:25 a.m., according to Deputy Joana Warren of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim, whose name was not released, died at the scene, the department reported.

The cause of death and age of the victim were not immediately available.

Anyone with information about the death is urged to call the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

Man sentenced

in stabbing death

NORWALK — A man convicted of fatally stabbing his grandchildren’s uncle outside a Bellflower apartment complex has been sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison.

Jurors found Jeffery Ardonal Johnson, now 64, guilty in June 2019 of first-degree murder for the Jan. 27, 2018, attack on Anthony Maurice Elston.

The jury also found true an allegation that the Bellflower resident personally used a knife in the commission of the crime.

Johnson and the 24-year-old victim knew each other because Elston’s sister had children with Johnson’s son and was moving into the same apartment complex as Johnson, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Johnson armed himself with a kitchen knife following a brief encounter with the victim at Elston’s sister’s apartment, according to prosecutors.

A fight subsequently broke out between Johnson’s son and Elston’s sister in the parking garage of the apartment complex. During the brawl, Johnson approached Elston and stabbed him once in the abdomen before leaving the parking garage, prosecutors said. He returned almost two hours later and surrendered to law enforcement.