California officials warn of pesticide-tainted cactus

California officials are warning people not to eat the Mexican cactus known as nopales sold at certain stores over concerns they may be tainted with unapproved pesticides.

The Department of Public Health said Wednesday that routine samples last month found contaminated nopal cactus pads at six markets and distribution centers across the state.

Products packaged under the names Mexpogroup Fresh Produce, Aramburo or Los Tres Huastecos should be thrown away. Officials say most tainted nopales have been removed from store shelves and destroyed. But it is possible that some may have been sold to other retail locations in California, Nevada and Oregon.

No illnesses have been reported. Officials warn the pesticides can potentially cause poisoning, neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage.

Associated Press



Panel: Los Angeles officer violated rules in fatal shooting

An oversight panel has found a veteran Los Angeles police officer violated department rules for using deadly force when he fatally shot a 70-year-old man wielding a pipe last year.

The Los Angeles Times reports the Police Commission sided with Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday in unanimously faulting Officer Charles Garcia for firing his gun and for tactics used before pulling the trigger.

Cellphone video shows Garcia firing at Alejandro Mendez as he stood several feet away.

Beck said Garcia and his partner should have taken more time to assess the situation or consider other tactical options. Garcia got the blame because his partner was inexperienced.

An attorney representing Garcia said he believed the officers acted appropriately to safeguard bystanders.

It is now up to Beck to decide what punishment, if any, to hand down.

Associated Press



Southern California to see warming Santa Ana winds

Southern California’s winter is flip-flopping again from cloudy, damp and cool to clear, warm and windy.

The low-pressure system that brought some showers this week has moved east and will be replaced by warming Santa Ana winds in Los Angeles and Ventura counties Thursday night through Friday.

Forecasters say winds could reach speeds of 50 mph (80 kph) in the mountains and the dry gusts will elevate fire danger.

Offshore flow will decrease Friday night but Saturday will remain warm, followed by a sharp cooling trend Sunday and Monday with possible light rain or drizzle south of Point Conception.

Winter rainfall remains well below normal in the region. Downtown Los Angeles has recorded less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) since Oct.1, about 7 inches (17 centimeters) less than average.

Associated Press



Gang-related shooting kills 1 man, wounds another in LA

Police are searching for the gunman in a gang-related shooting that killed one man and seriously wounded another in Los Angeles.

Detectives say the suspect identified himself as a member of a street gang before firing multiple shots at the two victims Tuesday evening in North Hollywood. The gunman then fled in an awaiting vehicle.

A 19-year-old man died at a hospital. His 23-year-old companion was listed in serious but stable condition. They were not immediately identified.

Investigators have not released a suspect description.

Associated Press



LA teen suspected of making false 911 call about gunshot

Los Angeles police investigators have determined a 17-year-old boy lied when he called 911 and claimed a group of burglars had fired a gun through the door of his apartment.

Police said Thursday that officials became suspicious when it was found that the bullet hole had come from the inside not the outside, as the boy had claimed.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the Woodland Hills residence and discovered quantities of marijuana and evidence of a firearm. Officers eventually found a handgun in the bushes below the apartment’s balcony.

The teen was arrested on suspicion of illegal discharge of a firearm.

Police say the boy’s mother was out of town and she could face charges of child endangerment for leaving an unsecured firearm in a residence with a minor.

Associated Press



Man gets death penalty in California homeless camp murders

A gang member has been sentenced to death for murdering five people at a Southern California homeless camp in 2008 and a separate killing.

City News Service says the penalty imposed Thursday on 37-year-old David Cruz Ponce was recommended by a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury in October.

Two women and three men were found shot to death in November 2008 at a homeless camp in Long Beach. The killings remained unsolved until police announced arrests in 2012 and said the motive was drug debts owed by one victim to Ponce.

Co-defendant Max Eliseo Rafael was also convicted in the camp killings and was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Ponce was also convicted of murdering a man in Lancaster in 2009.

Associated Press