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Man shot at Westfield Century City mall, dies at hospital

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A manhunt was underway today for an assailant who shot and fatally wounded a 28-year-old man outside a restaurant at the Westfield Century City mall.

Officers responded to the shopping center, located in the 10200 block of Santa Monica Boulevard, about 10:25 p.m. Monday and found the victim suffering from several gunshot wounds, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The victim, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police said two groups of about 10 people each began arguing inside Javier’s, a busy restaurant/bar, and the altercation spilled outside. At some point, the unidentified gunman pulled out a weapon and shot the victim, according to LAPD Detective John Radke, who told KNX 1070 Newsradio that investigators tracked a “blood trail through the mall.”

“There was some sort of verbal altercation that escalated to some females having a fight that later spilled out — outside the restaurant — to possibly some men having a fight,” Radke said. “And then, at one point, a member of that group armed himself with a firearm and he chased the victim around the outside of the mall and shot him multiple times.”

The gunman was described as black, about 25-30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 pounds, according to police, who said he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans when last seen.

Police said some of the people in the groups involved in the argument cooperated with police, but others did not. Radke noted there were a lot of people in the vicinity at the time of the shooting, and he asked anyone with information to call 877-LAPD-247.

Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count begins today

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials and volunteers will conduct this year’s homeless count starting today, focusing on the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

The effort, known as the point-in-time count or 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, is essential to understanding how large the homeless crisis has become and is required to be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Angelenos are coming together across L.A. County to confront homelessness and the housing crisis because we believe that the future of our homeless brothers and sisters is part of our city’s identity,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a video posted to his Twitter page on Sunday. “We want to help them get back on their feet and because we know every single person in this city matters, whether they have a permanent address or not.”

At 8 tonight, Garceeti will join LAHSA and several other local government officials at a kick-off event for the homeless count at the North Hollywood Recreation Center, located at 11430 Chandler Blvd., where a count of the immediate neighborhood will then be conducted.

This year’s point-in-time count will also occur during the mornings and evenings today, Wednesday and Thursday, with volunteers canvassing more than 80 cities and 200 communities across Los Angeles County in that time, LAHSA officials said.

On Wednesday, volunteers will focus on west and southeast Los Angeles as well as the South Bay. On Thursday, volunteers will count homeless people in Antelope Valley, downtown Los Angeles and South Los Angeles.

Garcetti said the city still needs more volunteers, who can sign up online at www.theycountwillyou.org/volunteer, where a list of count locations can be found.

LAHSA officials said last week that volunteers are needed most for the counts in east Lancaster, east Palmdale, Granada Hills, Northridge, Rosemead, Avocado Heights, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, South Gate, Lawndale and Palos Verdes.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by 12% from 2018 to 2019 to reach an estimated 58,936 people, based on the results of last year’s point-in-time count.

Nearly three-quarters of those people were reported to be living in cars, tents, makeshift shelters or on the streets without any apparent cover from the elements.

“We have the largest unsheltered population in the nation and one of the largest homeless counts across America. Only New York has more people experiencing homelessness on any given night,” former LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn said when the results were released last June.

The city of Los Angeles saw a 16% increase in its numbers, which resulted in about 36,000 homeless people.

OC’s Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park remains closed after mountain lion attack on boy

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LAKE FOREST (CNS) – Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Lake Forest, where a mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old boy, remains closed today until further notice.

A family of six was on an outing in the park about 4:15 p.m. Monday, with the young boy leading the way, when he was attacked by the cougar, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.

The mountain lion grabbed the boy by the neck and only released him when his father threw a backpack at the animal, Bommarito said. The mountain lion then jumped into a tree with the backpack.

The boy was taken to a hospital for treatment of what were described as non-life-threatening neck injuries and cuts and was released Monday evening to recuperate at home, Bommarito said.

The park was evacuated by Orange County sheriff’s deputies, who flew over the park in a helicopter and used a loudspeaker to instruct people to leave.

Citing “the threat to public safety,” the sheriff’s department received authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to euthanize the mountain lion about 5:20 p.m., according to a sheriff’s department tweet.

The park will remain closed until further notice, Bommarito said.

A 35-year-old cyclist, Mark Reynolds, was killed by a mountain lion in the park in 2004. He was fixing his bike when he was attacked by the puma, which then attacked two other people who found Reynolds’ body. That mountain lion was later tracked down and killed.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be marked by parade, projects, celebration

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed today with the 36th Kingdom Day Parade in South Los Angeles, multiple service projects and a celebration in Exposition Park.

The 3-mile parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue, proceed west to Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to Vernon Avenue. The theme is “Equality For All Humanity, Our Next Step.”

Keke Palmer, a co-anchor of the ABC daytime program, “GMA3: Strahan, Sara & Keke,” will be the grand marshal.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation float will have three repurposed floral houses and cottages from its Rose Parade float, “Hope for the Homeless,” which received the Isabella Coleman Award for most outstanding presentation of color and color harmony through floral design at the 131st Tournament of Roses Parade New Year’s Day.

The foundation’s parade contingent will also include 60 marchers carrying “Housing is a Civil Rights Issue” placards.

The foundation’s Healthy Housing Foundation has purchased, refurbished and repurposed eight single-room occupancy hotels and motels throughout Los Angeles and on skid row since 2017, creating nearly 800 housing units for formerly homeless and extremely-low-income individuals, according to Ged Kenslea, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s senior director of communications.

A festival at Leimert Park will follow the parade from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. with booths, food and music.

Service projects will be held throughout Los Angeles County to fulfill the goal set by Congress in 1994 to make the day a “day on, not a day off.”

The volunteer organization Big Sunday will conduct its eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast, with more than 1,200 volunteers expected to come to its headquarters in Hollywood from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. to sort and fold more than 30,000 items of clothing, which will be donated to dozens of organizations.

“We are in very fraught times, but at Big Sunday, we keep finding that most people — of all ages, from all walks of life and … different political bents — want to work together to make our world a nicer place and celebrate what we share,” said David Levinson, Big Sunday’s founder and executive director.

More than 1,000 volunteers will paint nearly every wall and locker, landscape the grounds and build 30 benches at Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet, according to L.A. Works, the nonprofit, volunteer action center that is organizing the event.

Expected volunteers include former Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green, members of the Laker Girls and former Los Angeles Dodgers Kenny Landreaux and Dennis Powell.

STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

There will be a record 20 projects with more than 500 volunteers expected at the Long Beach MLK Day of Service, now in its 10th year, according to its organizer, the leadership program, Leadership Long Beach.

Projects include painting a mural, organizing a clothing resource facility for needy community college students, stone placement in alleys to capture rainwater in an effort to reduce flooding along with gardening and planting at community gardens.

The California African American Museum in Exposition Park will conduct a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. including art workshops and food.

The keynote address, “African American Voters, Mobilization and Empowerment,” will be delivered at 1 p.m. by Lorrie Frasure, an associate professor of political science and African American studies at UCLA.

Fraser will discuss the history of African American voting behavior and how to empower communities for the 2020 election and into the future.

The celebration will also include playing a recording of King’s 1967 speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” and a discussion of his life and legacy from 10-11 a.m.; a panel discussion from 11 a.m.-noon on how vital is voting to ensure the future of American democracy; school-aged youth presenting excerpts of King’s 1957 speech “Give Us the Ballot,” in which he advocated voting rights for African Americans in the United States, from 2-3 p.m.; and a musical tribute to King and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles from 3-4 p.m.

Admission is free.

The annual Mass honoring King’s legacy and the continued quest for equality for all will be celebrated at 2 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The Valley InterCommunity Council’s 22nd annual Dr. MLK Image Awards Musical will include performances by Reseda Church Mass Choir, the Shepherd Church Gospel Choir, the Pacoima Mass Choir, Pepperdine University Chorus and LVT American Baptist Church Choir.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez will be among the honorees at the 5 p.m. event at the Reseda Church of Christ.

In his proclamation declaring Monday Martin Luther King Jr. Day President Donald Trump, recalled King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream Speech,” calling it “one of the defining moments in American history.”

“King articulated the founding dream of America, the vision of our founders for all Americans to live as `an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth,”’ Trump wrote.

“Today, we pause to honor the incredible life and accomplishments of Dr. King, who helped shape the civil rights movement, gave hope to millions experiencing discrimination and whose enduring memory inspires us to pursue a more just and equal society.”

Burglars steal dog from Sherman Oaks home; Owner offers to pay ransom

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SHERMAN OAKS (CNS) – A Sherman Oaks woman is offering to pay $500 to the people who broke into her home and stole jewelry and her beloved, black Labradoodle Stella.

Barbara Goodhill doesn’t care about the jewelry taken when burglars broke in through an upstairs window and ransacked her home Friday night. She is heartsick that they took her 4 1/2-year-old, 35-pound Labradoodle.

The thieves took a piece of her heart and she wants Stella back.

“The first thing in the morning, she races ahead of me and does her version of a happy dance, leaping and twirling. It resets my heart,” Goodhill said. “I am so terrified for what she’s going through now.”

The burglars left behind her sheep dog Daisy, or Daisy may have been able to run away from them, she said. “My darling Daisy is so missing her little black sheep. She likes to herd Stella.”

The suspects apparently tried to return Stella, Goodhill said.

She immediately reported Stella missing to Home Again, the pet microchip company.

“They sent an alert out and within an hour I got a message that Stella had been found. They said she was at an animal hospital in Lawndale,” Goodhill said.

Two men had brought Stella to VCA Advanced Care Center of Lawndale, telling staff they’d found her, she said. But as the attendant got the microchip information, the men slipped out, saying they were taking the dog outside to go to the bathroom, and never returned.

The hospital has surveillance video, which Goodhill hopes police can obtain and use to track down the burglary suspects and find her dog.

The silver lining in the theft of Goodhill’s dog is the people she has met through the NextDoor app who have been a source of support. “Strangers have become friends overnight, using their skills to help me crack this.”

Meanwhile, Goodhill has left $500 in cash at The Pet Doctors of Sherman Oaks with instructions to give it to whomever returns Stella to the clinic with no questions asked, after they confirm by microchip that the dog is Stella. The Pet Doctors of Sherman Oaks is at 13756 Ventura Blvd.

Three horses die over three days at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA (CNS) – Three horses died over the weekend at Santa Anita Park, as animal rights activists continued to push for a nationwide ban on racing.

Santa Anita officials confirmed Sunday that a horse who had been training at the track died, but declined to immediately share more details. Tikkun Olam was a 4-year-old who raced nine times, winning once, finishing second once and third twice, earning $40,743. He finished sixth in a field of seven in his final race, a claiming race Aug. 28 at Del Mar.

On Saturday, a 4-year-old gelding named Uncontainable took a bad step nearing midstretch, and was pulled up and vanned off. The horse suffered a “fractured right front ankle,” according to a post on Santa Anita’s website. “Per recommendation from the attending veterinarian, the horse was humanely euthanized.”

On Friday, a 6-year-old gelding named Harliss was euthanized after fracturing his right front ankle in a race at Santa Anita after finishing seventh in a field of eight in the seventh race. He was also euthanized under the recommendation from the attending veterinarian.

The three deaths in consecutive days brought the number of horse who have died at Santa Anita to at least 42 since December 2018. Five horses have died at Santa Anita since its winter/spring meeting began Dec. 28.

“Three dead horses in three days requires immediate action,” PETA spokeswoman Brooke Rossi said. “The California Horse Racing Board was recently given the authority, in legislation backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, to suspend racing, and now it must do exactly that.

“There is no sense in the board allowing racing and deaths to continue until it enacts all its own pending regulations and acts on the recommendations of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. If it takes the closure of a track to stop the deaths, then close the track.”

Meanwhile, officials at Santa Anita released a statement Saturday reaffirming the track administration’s commitment to horse safety.

“Santa Anita remains committed to transparency,” it said. “Our safety statistics and incident reports are publicly available on our website at SantaAnita.com/safety.

Home to 2,000 horses, Santa Anita Park is one of the largest equine training facilities in the United States. Horses raced or trained at Santa Anita Park more than 420,000 times over the last year with a 99.991% safety rate.”

Santa Anita — and the sport in general — have faced increasing pressure from animal-rights activists and elected officials since the deaths at Santa Anita started garnering media attention in early 2019.

The California Horse Racing Board is set to issue a report soon on the deaths.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office concluded Dec. 19 that there was no criminal wrongdoing connected to the deaths, but offered a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety at racetracks in California.

“Horse racing has inherent risks but is a legally sanctioned sport in California,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “Greater precautions are needed to enhance safety and protect both horses and their riders.”

The district attorney called on state regulators to develop safety enhancements to reduce horse deaths, including possible enhanced penalties for rules violations, establishment of a tip line for people to report violations or animal cruelty allegations and mandated inspections of racing and training facilities, and reviews of necropsy and veterinary records of horses that have died.

The report also made recommendations aimed at identifying pre-existing conditions in horses that could lead to breakdowns, establishing track-maintenance protocols — including special measures during rain or extreme weather conditions, and creation of “safety codes of conduct” for owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians and others who care for horses.

The report noted that officials at Santa Anita have implemented a series of safety-improvement measures that “have reduced the number of fatal racing and training incidents.”

Santa Anita recently debuted a PET Scan machine to provide imaging of the fetlock or ankle joint — the most common area for injuries to occur in thoroughbreds — without horses having to undergo anesthesia, and said it will help to diagnose pre-existing conditions.

“This state-of-the-art technology reflects a new standard of care within Thoroughbred racing — a standard that puts the health and safety of horses and riders first,” said Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group’s chairman and president.

Town hall meeting set to discuss jet-fuel dump over South L.A. communities

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CUDAHY (CNS) – City, state and federal officials will hold a town hall meeting tonight to give updates and hear community concerns about a fuel-dump from a Delta jetliner making an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport, raining fuel onto a series of schools.

The midday Tuesday dump of fuel by Delta Air Lines flight 89 prompted hazardous-materials responses to multiple schools in Cudahy, South Gate and South Los Angeles. Nobody was hospitalized, but dozens of students and adults were treated for skin irritation and respiratory issues resulting from the falling fuel.

Friday’s town hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Clara Park, 4835 Clara St. in Cudahy.

Representatives from the cities of Cudahy, South Gate and Downey are expected to attend, along with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, County Supervisor Hilda Solis and officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District and county Fire Department, according to organizers.

Los Angeles County Fire Department crews responded shortly after noon Tuesday to Park Avenue Elementary School in the 8000 block of Park Avenue in Cudahy, where students and staff complained of skin irritation or respiratory problems.

Fire officials said 20 children and 11 adults at the campus were treated at the campus, but none required hospitalization.

According to the county fire department, it also tended to six people affected by the fuel at Tweedy Elementary in South Gate, one adult patient at Graham Elementary in the Florence area and six patients at San Gabriel Elementary in South Gate. None had to be transported.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to complaints of irritation from the fuel at Jordan High School near Watts and 93rd Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles. According to the LAFD, a total of 16 patients were assessed, but none required a trip to the hospital.

The Downey Fire Department responded to Gallatin Pre-School and evaluated seven patients with minor injuries. None were taken to a hospital, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Delta flight 89 — a Boeing 777 — left LAX at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday bound for Shanghai with 181 people on board. According to Delta, the plane “experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight.”

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement saying it is “thoroughly investigating” the circumstances of the fuel dump.

“There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major U.S. airport,” according to the FAA. “These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.”

In its statement, Delta said airline officials “are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area.”

LAX officials issued a statement saying they “are concerned about reports of impacts on the ground from the fuel release, and are in close communication with Delta and first responders as their investigations continue.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised people affected by the fuel to wash their contaminated clothing separately with regular detergent and to wash their entire body with soap and water.

If odors remain on clothing after they are washed, they should be discarded. Symptoms such as skin irritation and upper respiratory irritation should improve on their own, according to the Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles receives nearly $130 million for homeless services

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority announced today that it will receive nearly $130 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for projects to help homeless people.

“This funding will allow LAHSA and its partners to continue to provide much-needed services and programs for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Heidi Marston, the interim executive director of LAHSA. “We extend our appreciation to HUD for providing this funding and look forward to continuing to work with our partners to provide a path out of homelessness for unhoused Angelenos.”

HUD awarded more than $123 million under the Tier 1 renewal category, more than $5 million for two new projects for survivors of domestic violence and $1.25 million for a planning project. HUD officials said they will announce results for Tier 2 renewal grants and release project applications in the near future.

The Los Angeles Continuum of Care includes all cities in Los Angeles County, with the exception of Glendale, Long Beach and Pasadena.

Last week, it was reported a deal with the Trump administration to provide funds and land to house and help the homeless in Los Angeles and elsewhere in Los Angeles County may be closer to being reached.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and sent him a letter expressing his appreciation for federal resources, including money and land, offered to the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Garcetti plans to meet with Carson in Washington D.C. during the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 22-24, the mayor’s office told The Times.

Officials identify man fatally shot in South Los Angeles while suspects remain at large

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A man who was fatally shot during an argument with a man and woman in the south Los Angeles area was identified today, and the search for his killers was continuing, police said.

Kenneth Baniaga, 23, of Los Angeles was shot about 7 p.m. Tuesday in the 1700 block of Exposition Boulevard and died at a hospital, according to the coroner’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department.

According to police, Baniaga argued with a man and woman, both about 20 years of age, and one of them shot him. The crime did not appear to be gang related, police said.

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call 877-LAPD-247.

Los Angeles leaders want MLB championship trophies for Dodgers

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Hot on the heels of Major League Baseball’s sign-stealing scandal last week, Los Angeles City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Gilbert Cedillo have called for the baseball organization to recall the championship trophies presented to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018, and hand them over to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Astros and Red Sox are both at the center of an investigation which concluded earlier this week that Alex Cora – who served as bench coach for the Astros in 2017 and manager of the Red Sox in 2018 – used a camera to illicitly steal signs from opposing catchers during those seasons, both of which ended with Cora’s respective teams defeating the Dodgers at the World Series.

“This is an equity and justice thing,” Cedillo said. “Who was the best team in 2017? Who was the best team in 2018? It was the Dodgers. They got beat by teams that were cheating.”

Koretz was more moderate in tone, admitting the request was unprecedented, but said awarding the trophies to the Dodgers would be “appropriate payback” for having been cheated.

“I think this really besmirches the national pastime and the most historic sport in American history, and there has to be a message that this isn’t allowed,” Koretz said.

Unprecedented or not, the City Council will vote next week on whether to approve a resolution asking the MLB to award the Dodgers those trophies.

The resolution does not call for the city to initiate any legal action, although some Dodger fans have suggested going to court over the matter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The last time the Dodgers won the World Series was in 1988, when they defeated the Oakland Athletics.