Suspect arrested in fatal stabbing on Red Line last week

Here is the news release issued earlier by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the stabbing death of an adult male at 9:20 AM on Monday, January 13, 2014, on the Metro Red Line at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station, 1015 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles.

Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators have arrested a suspect for the January 13th murder of Mr. Velasco-Alvarado (MH/34), which occurred on the Metro Red Line rail.

Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators received an anonymous tip which enabled them to establish the identity of the suspect and determine the location of his residence. On Friday, January 17th, investigators executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence in North Hollywood, where they arrested Suspect Angelo Correia (M/B-25) for Mr. Velasco-Alvarado’s murder.
Suspect Correia was booked at West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and is being held in lieu of one million dollars bail.

The case will be presented to the District Attorney’s office on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

Sheriff’s Department news release on Monday’s fatal stabbing on the Red Line; help sought from the public

Here is the latest from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the fatal stabbing Monday and which patrols Metro buses and trains:

(Update) Stabbing Death Investigation, Metro Red Line Vermont Station – 9:20AM, Mon, Jan.13

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau detectives are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the stabbing death of an adult male at 9:20 AM on Monday, January 13, 2014, on the Metro Red Line at the Vermont/Santa Monica Station, 1015 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles.

Detectives have learned that Sheriff’s Metro Transit Services Bureau deputies responded to a call of a stabbing victim. The victim was reportedly sitting in a seat on the train as it approached the train station. The suspect approached the victim and stabbed him one time before exiting the train and fleeing the train station.

The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead at 6:36 PM. The victim has been identified as 34 year-old Los Angeles resident, Jose Velasco-Alvarado.

The suspect who is described as a male African-American in his early 20’s, and the weapon, are still outstanding. This is an on-going investigation.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Officials have noted that incidents of serious crime on their system is comparatively very low vs. the amount of Metro Riders. Their statistics show a .30 Part I Crimes (Robberies, Rapes, Assaults, other serious Felonies) per 100,000 passenger boardings. Also noting that there have been 2 homicides in the 20 year history of the subway in Los Angeles, and Metro Rail Lines have safely carried over a 1 billion patrons during that same time period.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), or texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.

Jamzilla is coming: Unprecedented 80-hour paving operation planned for northbound 405 Presidents’ Day weekend

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Northbound traffic on the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass will be greatly curtailed President’s Day weekend. Avoid the area if you can. Photo by Jonathan Poh, via Flickr creative commons.

Los Angeles transportation officials are alerting I-405 and regional freeway motorists of an unprecedented 80-hour northbound I-405 freeway lane closure operation in the Sepulveda Pass this Presidents’ Day weekend, February 14 to 18, 2014.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), in conjunction with California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and a host of law enforcement and emergency response agencies throughout L.A. County are giving the public advance notice that if they do not have a critical need to travel northbound through West Los Angeles and the Sepulveda Pass during the Presidents’ Day three-day weekend, they should eliminate unnecessary auto trips, avoid the area and/or divert to other freeways to avoid major traffic delays.

Traffic conditions on local streets and freeways within the region of Los Angeles County and beyond could become severe, with significant, hours-long delays if motorists do not cooperate with authorities and limit northbound freeway trips.

Motorists who must travel during this weekend are advised to prepare their itineraries in advance, monitor real-time traffic conditions prior to beginning their trips and follow alternate routes that are provided. Motorists will be continually informed of the closure in advance by Caltrans-operated freeway message signs.

The I-405 contractor will be paving a major segment of the future northbound I-405 High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in the Sepulveda Pass. The work is considered key to meeting the project’s scheduled completion date of 2014.

Work over the Presidents’ Day weekend will eliminate the need for several consecutive 55-hour freeway closures from the project schedule. This closure operation will save significant time and minimize future closure impacts to the community and traveling public.

The closure operation consists of a partial day-time lane reduction and a full night-time directional freeway closure on the northbound I-405 between Getty Center Drive and Ventura Boulevard.  The closure area is approximately 5.6 miles long, or nearly two-thirds of the entire I-405 project area.

During daytime hours, two northbound lanes will remain open while the remaining three lanes will be closed.  During night-time hours, all five northbound freeway lanes in this area will be closed.

The southbound I-405 will remain fully open during the day, but some southbound lanes may be closed during night-time only paving operations.

Work is scheduled to begin Friday night, February 14 starting at 11 p.m. and will last until Tuesday, February 18 at 6 a.m.

Ramps within the project area will begin to close as early as 7 p.m. Traffic officers provided by LADOT will help guide motorists at each I-405 northbound on-ramp.

Full northbound night-time freeway closure times are as follows:

  • Friday night, February 14 – 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Saturday night, February 15 - 2 a.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Sunday night, February 16 – 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Monday night, February 17 – 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The designated alternative route for night-time full closures will be for motorists to take the Wilshire northbound to westbound off-ramp to northbound Sepulveda Boulevard, returning to northbound I-405 at the Greenleaf northbound on-ramp.

Sepulveda Boulevard also will be fully open with two lanes in each direction during the paving operation.  However, Sepulveda Boulevard will not have the capacity to accommodate all diverted northbound freeway traffic, and could become severely congested. Freeway motorists should instead divert to other freeway routes.

I-10 connectors to the northbound I-405 also will be closed. Motorists detouring from the closed I-10 connectors should use freeway detour routes rather than local streets.

The connector detour routes will be as follows:

  • For eastbound I-10 to northbound I-405 – use northbound I-110, northbound US 101, to northbound I-405.
  • For westbound I-10 to northbound I-405 – use northbound I-5, westbound SR 134, northbound US 101, to northbound I-405.

The construction schedule is subject to change, and paving work is dependent on favorable weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather during the 80-hour closure, the project will commence continuous 55-hour weekend closures of the northbound freeway starting the following weekend, February 21 for up to four weekends to complete the originally intended work.

The I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements project has now concluded most major freeway widening work between the I-10 and U.S. 101. The contractor is now building the future northbound HOV lane that will connect West Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley.

The project will officially complete the last remaining gap in the entire I-405 lane network.  Additional project benefits include improved freeway safety through standardized lane and shoulder widths, greater ramp capacities at key locations, new sound and retaining walls, widened overpasses, widened and seismically updated bridges.

The project is a joint effort between Metro and Caltrans, and is being constructed by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.

Why Gold Line service in Pasadena was disrupted this morning

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The above object — a lock shaped like a hand grenade — was spotted on the Gold Line tracks just west of the Sierra Madre Villa station in Pasadena about 10:20 a.m. The Gold Line between Sierra Madre Villa and Allen stations was subsequently shut down so the device could be investigated and removed by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Arsons/Explosives Unit.

Regular service on the Gold Line has resumed.

Which brings us to the PSA part of this post: If you see something, say something. The Sheriff’s Department can be reached in an emergency by phoning 888.950.SAFE (7233); if you use the Metro system, please put this number in your cell phone’s contact list.

The LASD also has a smartphone app that can be used to report problems in non-emergencies.

 


Safety reminder for holiday travelers: See Something, Say Something

This holiday season, Metro reminds all travelers to be safe – and help keep your transit system safe. If you “See Something, Say Something.” Here’s the press release from Metro:

Keeping Thanksgiving holiday weekend safe is the responsibility of every traveler and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and Metrolink join in a continuing effort to engage passengers by urging them to be safety eyes and ears.

“There is a lot of excitement and distraction as folks visit family and friends, but remember safety and security is not just the concern of law enforcement. We all have a stake in keeping transit safe,” said LASD Transit Services Bureau (TSB) Commander Ronene Anda. “Union Station is the busiest rail terminal in the West and keeping our passengers engaged in recognizing potential dangers helps everyone. In 2012, with the cooperation of our personnel and travelers, things went very smoothly and we had only one arrest at Union Station and that was for baggage theft.”

The Metro system has an exemplary safety record with .030 incidents of serious crime per 100,000 bus and rail boardings and Metrolink, likewise has an excellent performance with .010 incidents of serious crime per 100,000 train boardings. With so many people using the regional bus and rail system this Thanksgiving weekend travelers are reminded that if they see something that seems out of the ordinary, say something to authorities.

LASD-TSB patrols the Metro bus and rail system and Metrolink in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties. The Metro Rail and Metrolink systems combined have about 400,000 daily boardings.

“It is impossible to understate the power of 400,000 sets of eyes and ears in keeping our system safe,” said Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “Our bus passengers can tell the operator if there is a problem, rail travelers can use the intercom system in our trains, there is our security smartphone app – LA Metro Transit Watch, which is available free at the app store for iPhone and Android and people can call 911.”

Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, an alert Metrolink passenger informed a conductor after overhearing a rider make specific threats. The train was stopped and searched and the suspect arrested by sheriff’s deputies.

“With 42,000 daily boardings across six counties and many law enforcement jurisdictions means that we need the active engagement of our passengers,” said Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Mike DePallo. “Our patrons are an integral part of keeping our system as safe as possible.”

Union Station has about 60,000 daily rail boardings in addition to Metro and municipal bus service. Amtrak’s PacificSurfliner service between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, with 2.64 million boardings, is the second busiest rail corridor in the nation.

Photo: Juan Ocampo/Metro

Photo: Juan Ocampo/Metro

As daylight hours shorten, rules and tips for a safe commute

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

It’s that time of year again: Days are getting shorter, nights longer, the weather colder, and this past weekend, California officially “fell back” to Pacific Standard Time.

While safety is always a priority for Metro, as it gets darker earlier it’s important to exercise a little extra caution when commuting. Please keep the following rules and safety tips in mind when traveling by Metro Rail or Bus:

  • For Metro Rail customers: do not cross the tracks when gates are down, bells are ringing, and/or lights are flashing. This is not a recommendation, it’s the law. You put yourself in grave danger any time you ignore rail crossing signals, and you may be ticketed by transit deputies.
  • When signals indicate it is ok to cross the tracks, remain alert and proceed with care. Don’t assume a train isn’t nearby just because gates are up, lights are off, and you don’t initially hear or see it. Look both ways when crossing the tracks and listen.
  • Exercise caution when using headphones around buses and trains. Music on the go can be fun, but it can also distract you from your immediate surroundings as well as render you more vulnerable to theft. Consider forgoing headphones at night— when vision is reduced, hearing becomes even more important.
  • Horseplay is not permitted at bus stops and rail stations. Always an important rule, but even more vital in hours of low visibility.
  • Skateboarding and biking are not allowed on train platforms. Another prohibited activity made increasingly risky with decreased daylight. Always pick up your skateboard/walk your bike on platforms.
  • Consider wearing visible clothing. Bright colors are easier for drivers, train, and bus operators to spot in the dark. If you just hate bright colored clothing, consider getting a reflective wristband to wear during the evening hours you’re out and about.

Commuting by bike instead? The Street Smarts Guide available on the Metro Bike page contains tips about riding in rain and darkness.

For many Angelenos, driving after dark is so routine that it’s hard to believe fatalities on the road triple from day to night – yet it does, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fine tune your car for optimum nighttime performance and learn strategies for safe night driving at the DMV or Popular Mechanics.

However you commute this Fall and Winter, Metro thanks you for your caution and wishes you a safe journey!

A couple of photos and tips on safety when accessing center platforms on Blue, Expo and Gold Lines

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First, a big thank you to readers and media for their interest and articles last week about Metro’s efforts to reduce suicides, particularly along the Blue Line, the agency’s longest and busiest light rail line.

That said, the week ended badly when on Friday evening a man was killed when he walked into the path of a southbound Blue Line train at the Vernon station. The incident remains under investigation but Metro has confirmed that the crossing gates, warning lights and bells were working.

As it happens I spent some time along the Blue Line corridor last week shooting photographs for Metro, including the two above that were taken at the Vernon station.

The point of the top photo: the Blue Line trains are big, heavy and long — and they pass within feet of the entrance and exit to the train platform that sits between the Blue Line’s southbound and northbound tracks.

The second photo was taken to illustrate the difficulty in gauging distances along the Blue Line, which features long, straight sections of track. You may think the train is still far and you have time to get across the tracks. But you may be wrong with deadly consequences.

After watching people come and go to and from the station, I think there are three easy things everyone can do that would help improve safety:

1. Take off your headphones.

2. Put your phone in your pocket.

3. Keep your head on a swivel.

I saw several people walking to or from the platform staring at their phones and not even looking up despite the presence of traffic on Vernon Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard and two sets of train tracks — for the Blue Line and for Union Pacific freight trains.

Metro’s safety ambassador has a neat little trick: he stands in the path of those folks staring at their phones, forcing them to look up or walk into him.

Please be careful, everyone. The Blue Line, Gold Line and Expo Line all have platforms in the center of the tracks. They can work fine — but like many other things in life, they do require your full attention in order for everyone to get where they are going safely.