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Police Blotter 2020, an unusual year in review

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Each year the COURIER publishes a compendium of some of the more newsworthy, disturbing, unbelievable and/or colorful entries from our ever-popular Police Blotter. Most importantly, we want to inform readers on one of the most important topics that concerns us—local crime.

January 3, 2020
Claremont officers are looking for a teenager who apparently tried to rob a woman walking from Super King Market. The victim was leaving the supermarket around 8:45 a.m. when the teen reportedly brandished a gun and ordered, “Give me everything you’ve got or I’m going to blow you away,” Det. Hamill of the Claremont Police Department said. The victim refused to hand over anything to the teen, who got frustrated and ran away. He was described as Hispanic, around 15-years-old and wearing braces.

March 2, 2020
A Claremont teen was arrested for DUI after crashing his Toyota Avalon into a city light pole. Around 11:52 p.m., Hunter Esquivel, 19, was driving east on Radcliffe Drive “at excessive speeds” when he allegedly spun out, hit a curb on the north end of Radcliffe, two plants in the front yard of a home on Pembroke Court and ran into a city light pole, Det. Matt Hamill of the CPD said. Mr. Esquivel was not injured, but police determined he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. He was arrested and taken to CPD jail.

April 17, 2020
The Claremont Police Department will continue to suspend the enforcement of the overnight parking ordinance (ONP) until May 16 at 2 a.m., unless notice is provided by CPD that the date is extended. This is based on the “Safer at Home” order being extended until May 15 by Los Angeles County. With the current suspension of the enforcement of the ONP due to COVID-19, police said there are more vehicles being left on the street overnight, which has resulted in an increase of vehicle burglaries and thefts from unlocked vehicles. “If you are going to leave your car on the street, please remove your valuables or items that may look like they contain valuables,”?police cautioned.

May 1, 2020
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the CPD said Claremont vehicle thefts have doubled compared with this same time last year. The number of stolen vehicles located by officers has also increased. To allow for social distancing within the county jail system, police said people who are arrested for non-violent crimes must be released with citations.

June 23, 2020
One has to credit Derrick Holland for his dogged criminal persistence. The previous week, the 59-year-old Pomonan was arrested for commercial burglary after allegedly loading up a shopping cart with booze at Von’s on Baseline Road about 10:30 a.m. and pushing it out the door without paying. This time, Mr. Holland broke the first rule of criminality when he returned to the scene of the (alleged) crime, again at the unusual party time of 10:44 a.m. This time he allegedly relieved Von’s of $1,400 worth of meat, chicken and shrimp along with a sizable selection of alcohol. This time, his alleged accomplice and driver was Anaheim resident Dung Nguyen, 47, who piloted the getaway vehicle, for a minute anyway. Claremont PD pulled over Mr. Nguyen’s vehicle in the Von’s parking lot, located the hot groceries, and arrested the pair. Mr. Holland was booked for burglary, and Mr. Nguyen for an outstanding warrant and driving on a suspended license.

July 14, 2020
The Claremont Police Department called in the cavalry after a Pomona man suspected of auto theft took off running and remained at large for more than an hour. CPD officers got curious after seeing a truck parked near Bonita and Towne Avenues at 1 p.m. They ran the plates of the 2003 Black Chevrolet Silverado and found it was reported stolen July 12 from San Bernardino County. As they approached the car’s driver, Alfonzo Diaz, 26, made a run for it. Unable to catch him, officers began a search of the area, assisted by the La Verne Police Department, a San Bernardino County Sherriff’s Department helicopter, and a criminal sniffing dog from the Chino Police Department. A little more than an hour later they found Mr. Diaz hiding in some bushes in a yard near Foothill Boulevard and Towne Avenue. Mr. Diaz was arrested without incident and charged with felony grand theft auto and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He spent several days in the Claremont jail before being arraigned July 16 at Pomona Superior Court.

July 28, 2020
Claremont Police Department detectives applied some admirable gumshoe work in nabbing a suspected car burglar at 10:20 a.m. at his home at 917 E. Lexington Ave., Pomona. Officers arrested Tony Yarberry, 35, after an investigation into two recent smash and grab vehicle burglaries that took place last month at the Thompson Creek Trail parking lot in the 2400 block of north Indian Hill Boulevard. Detectives were able to match up retail store video surveillance footage and a DMV photo of Mr. Yarberry, who they say is behind both heists. The first break in occurred July 10, when he allegedly made off with a wallet, identification, credit cards and a cell phone. Police say he returned to the parking lot July 27, broke another car window and made off with a pink leather purse, a pink leather wallet containing multiple credit cards and ID, a pair of reading glasses and an HP printer.

The case came together after the two victims, following advice from CPD detectives, monitored their stolen credit card accounts to watch for illicit spending. Sure enough, the victims soon both contacted CPD to report unauthorized charges at Home Depot and Wal Mart locations in Glendora, where on one occasion it is alleged Mr. Yarberry spent more than $1,600 and $387, respectively, with the hot plastic. Officers then took a drive to Glendora and viewed surveillance footage from the cash registers at Home Depot and thought they might recognize the man caught on camera. They found a recent previous arrest report for Mr. Yarberry and matched a photo from the DMV with the man seen in the surveillance footage. He was then arrested and faces three felony counts, two for car burglary and one for identity theft.

July 31, 2020
A very lucky La Verne man who had been released from state prison just one day earlier due to COVID-19 concerns will likely be headed back after being arrested following a bizarre incident at the Motel 6 at 840 S. Indian Hill Boulevard. Police say Eufemio Alvarez, 33, admitted to snorting some meth before allegedly vandalizing a motel room to the tune of $6,000 in damages and having to being subdued with a Taser gun. Claremont police received a 911 call from the motel about 8 p.m. about a man throwing furniture out of a second story window. When they arrived  they found Mr. Alvarez, who they say was verbally combative before refusing police orders and barricading himself into his room. Cops say he then began throwing furniture around the room and yelling loudly in Spanish and English. Unable to lure Mr. Alvarez out of the room, police made entry, where they found him locked in the bathroom, again refusing to emerge. Officers then kicked open the bathroom door and allege Mr. Alvarez moved his hands up and pointed an object at them. Cops then made a split-second decision to use a Taser to subdue him. It worked, and Mr. Alvarez narrowly avoided a potentially more serious outcome. As he was being arrested he allegedly told officers he had earlier snorted some methamphetamine. He was held on a felony parole violation, charged with felony vandalism, with resisting arrest and more.

August 5
Claremont police got a call about 6:15 a.m. regarding a man seen hopping the fence at San Antonio High School, 125 W. San Jose Avenue. They arrived and questioned Anthony Martinez, 34. Mr. Martinez, whom cops say first identified himself as Anthony Bavera, 33, was arrested for possession of a concealed firearm—an unloaded, Taurus PT-24/7 40 caliber handgun—possession of stolen property and possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia, all misdemeanors, and for an outstanding San Bernardino County felony warrant for possession of a “dirk,” which is a long, thrusting dagger dating back to the 17th century Scottish Highlanders.

October 22
A septuagenarian car thief got arrested yet again for felony grand theft auto after Claremont Police ran the plate of a 2014 Chevy Malibu, discovered it had been reported stolen, and pulled over the driver, James Wallace, 76, from Pomona at 3 p.m. near Foothill Blvd. and Towne Ave. Mr. Wallace, who was on probation for a previous car theft conviction, was booked and released with a citation to appear in court to answer for the new felony charge.

October 25
A Pomona woman was picked up for driving under the influence of alcohol at 1:40 a.m., spent the morning in Claremont jail, then got arrested again later that evening for public intoxication. Cristina Rodriguez, 37, from Pomona, was pulled over by Claremont cops at 1:40 a.m. near Monte Vista Ave. and Base Line Road. They say she showed symptoms of being drunk, so they arrested her for driving under the influence of alcohol and for driving with a suspended license. After sleeping it off, she was released in the morning with a citation to appear in Pomona court. Then at 6:50 p.m., officers responding to a call about a voluble argument between a man and a woman at Motel 6, 840 S. Indian Hill Blvd., found Ms. Rodriguez and an unidentified man to be the source of the disturbance. Claremont cops allege that she was drunk, so she was arrested again and spent most of the evening sobering up, again in the Claremont jail, before being released in the wee hours without charges.

November 18
Police arrived at the Claremont Lodge, 736 S. Indian Hill Blvd., at 8:30 a.m. after a confidential source alerted them to a man in one of the rooms who was brandishing a firearm on Facebook Live. They found the man doing the alleged internet broadcasting, Michael Madden, 31, from Rancho Cucamonga, who at first gave them a false name. Once that was straightened out, cops found Mr. Madden had two warrants out for his arrest out of San Bernardino County, one a felony, the other a misdemeanor. They also determined the firearm in question was in fact a pellet gun.

November 22
A short but wild car chase ended abruptly at 10:46 a.m. when a 39-year-old Claremont man crashed his vehicle into a tree, revealing an assortment of drugs and a loaded handgun. It began when CPD officers attempted to pull over a suspicious car near Indian Hill Blvd. and Bonita Ave. Police say the driver, Marcos Elizade, instead took off southbound on Indian Hill and then turned left on Arrow Hwy., reaching speeds of up to 60 miles-per-hour before crashing into a tree in front of LA West Liquors in the 300 block of Arrow Hwy. Cops detained both Mr. Martinez and his passenger, Erica Lopez, 36.

A search of the car allegedly turned up the loaded .380 pistol, and enough methamphetamine, heroin and the prescription benzodiazepine sedative Xanax to lead officers to believe the drugs were for sale. They were both arrested on two felony counts of possession of a firearm with narcotics involved, and possession of a loaded firearm, and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a meth pipe. Mr. Martinez was also charged with eluding arrest, for the car chase, as well as a probation violation for a previous conviction.

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