PALMDALE

Person of interest named in LA County triple killing

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials have identified a person of interest in a triple killing last weekend at a home in Palmdale.

Deputies found the bodies Jan. 13 after a family member requested a welfare check when she couldn’t get in touch with her relatives.

Investigators said Wednesday they want to speak with James “Todd” Brown. They say Brown lived on the desert property where the family was found dead.

He is believed to be driving a 2002 silver Toyota pickup with a camper shell.

The victims were identified as 78-year-old Richard Gardner Jr., his 56-year-old wife Pepper Gardner and his 52-year-old son Richard Gardner III.

Investigators say the victims suffered some trauma to their bodies but the exact cause of death has not been determined.

Associated Press

 

MONTECITO

New storm not expected to drop much rain on Montecito

A fast-moving, cold and gusty storm system heading toward Southern California is not expected to bring much rain to the flood-ravaged Santa Barbara County community of Montecito.

The National Weather Service says Montecito is predicted to get only a tenth of an inch (2.5 millimeters) or less, but it’s possible there could be a rogue thunderstorm Friday evening.

In the disaster area, damage assessments continue along with the search for three missing people.

The incident management team reports Thursday the number of destroyed homes has reached 128, and 307 single-family residences were damaged. The death toll remains 20.

Debris-swamped U.S. 101 in the Montecito area is not expected to reopen until next week.

Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES

Since 1 Hollywood sign is good, would 2 be even better?

Locals and tourists alike appreciate the Hollywood sign, so why not build another?

That’s one of the suggestions from a study seeking ways to ease frustration about traffic near the world famous sign in Los Angeles.

The second sign on the other side of the hill would face toward the suburban San Fernando Valley.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that a few of the less fanciful ideas include a shuttle to ferry visitors to trails near the sign and an aerial tram to offer birds-eye views.

And the report by consulting firm Dixon Resources Unlimited suggests a Hollywood sign visitor center to teach tourists about its history.

The newspaper says many of the ideas are much more mundane — including adjusting parking restrictions and installing signs to guide pedestrians.

Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES

Delta jetliner makes emergency safe return to Los Angeles

A Delta Air Lines flight safely returned to Los Angeles International Airport after it developed a hydraulic problem shortly after taking off for Detroit.

The Federal Aviation Administration says Flight 1594 landed safely at LAX shortly before 2:30 p.m. Thursday after the pilot reported a “flight control issue” involving hydraulics.

The Boeing 757 had 125 passengers and six crew members on board.

Delta says the plane is being checked out at a remote parking area and passengers will take another plane to Detroit later in the day.

Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES

UCLA fraternities ban alcohol at frat house events

UCLA fraternities have banned alcohol at frat house events indefinitely in the wake of an alleged sexual assault, it was announced Wednesday.

Leaders of the UCLA Interfraternity Council, representing 22 Bruin fraternities, passed a rule on Tuesday prohibiting events involving booze that take place in fraternity chapter facilities.

The ban aims to provide “an environment where UCLA’s True Bruin Values are upheld” and ensure the “safety and well-being of those present” at fraternity activities, a council statement said Wednesday.

UCLA called the self-imposed ban “a step in the right direction.”

The council statement did not indicate whether the move was linked to any specific event but it follows the Sunday arrest of a former fraternity president on suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape and oral copulation.

Benjamin Orr, 21, was arrested on Sunday after a woman reported that she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus party, according to campus police.

Orr is free on $100,000 bond. It wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney and an email seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

Orr was 2016-2017 president of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity.

Overall, UCLA police received reports of 31 rapes and 11 other sexual assaults in and around campus in 2016, the last year for which statistics are available. About half of the rapes occurred off campus and most of the rest took place in on-campus student housing. The number of rapes more than doubled from 2015.

There was no breakdown on how many involved fraternity properties, events or members.

Fraternities in recent years have begun to address their reputations for alcohol-fueled and sometimes deadly misbehavior.

On Wednesday, nine Florida State University fraternity members were charged with hazing in the death of a 20-year-old pledge. Andrew Coffey drank a lethal amount of bourbon and malt liquor at an off-campus party, authorities said.

Also on Wednesday, Sigma Chi International announced new policies aimed at dealing with booze and hazing. They include banning alcohol at social events during pledge and recruitment periods as of Aug. 1.

Twenty-six people were charged last year in the hazing death of a 19-year-old fraternity pledge at Penn State. Tim Piazza had 18 drinks in under 90 minutes at a pledge party, then fell head-first down basement stairs, authorities said.

Associated Press

 

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