HOMELAND: Two mobiles homes destroyed by fire, blaze seen for miles

HOMELAND — Two mobile homes burned to the ground Saturday, June 24. The twin blazes, which could be seen from nearby Highway 74 broke out in the area of Falcon View Lane and Sea View Road in the unincorporated community of Homeland.

Two mobile homes were destroyed by fire Saturday evening. William Hayes photo

Emergency first responders were dispatched to the scene of the fire at 9:47 p.m., after multiple people called 911 to report the blaze.

Twenty-eight firefighters from seven engine companies and one truck company responded to the fire, according to Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer April Newman. They were assisted by two water tenders.

“The first arriving engine company reported a structure fully involved in fire,” said Newman.

Nearly one hour later, just before 10:30 p.m., Newman updated that two double-wide mobile homes were fully engulfed in flames.

The blaze was threatening several nearby tractors, farm implements, outbuildings, assorted vehicles and an RV; forcing firefighters to assume a defensive posture and protect the area surrounding the two burning mobile homes.

Firefighters successfully contained the blaze to the two structures.

After successfully knocking down the blaze, fire personnel remained at the scene for several hours conducting extensive overhaul operations.

William Hayes video

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

trevor main

Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.

LAKE ELSINORE: Man arrested, charged with attempted murder after stabbing

LAKE ELSINORE — One man was hospitalized and another was arrested after a stabbing incident Thursday, June 22. The stabbing happened in the 2700 block of Golden Court, southwest of Grand Avenue and east of the Ortega Highway, in Lake Elsinore.

Sheriff’s investigators arrested Matthew Cardenas after he allegedly stabbed a man in Lake Elsinore. RSO booking photo

After an investigation, that included the service of a search warrant at the residence where the stabbing occurred, officials arrested Matthew Cardenas, 20, of Lake Elsinore.

He was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Steve Brosche explained in a written press release after the incident and arrest.

The investigation began about 10:30 p.m., when deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Lake Elsinore Police Station responded to Golden Court where a 911 caller reported a stabbing that had just occurred.

“The victim, a 40-year-old male resident of Lake Elsinore, was transported to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries,” said Broshe. “The victim is expected to survive his injuries.”

Based on the circumstances, Lake Elsinore PD detectives assumed the investigation.

During their investigation, detectives served a search warrant at the residence where the stabbing occurred. “Cardenas was arrested at the scene,” Brosche explained.

The investigation is active and ongoing.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call Detective Huskey at the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L171730155 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

trevor main

Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.

Thirsty woman tries to steal Water District truck, briefly escapes custody

A bizarre sequence of events that began this morning when a woman jumped into the bed of an Eastern Municipal Water District work truck. Once in the bed of the vehicle the woman reportedly used the ruse of being thirsty to distract the driver long enough to attempt to steal the large, commercial vehicle. The incident ended when the woman managed to briefly escape custody before being re-captured this afternoon, Wednesday, June 21.

The woman, identified as Destiny Fawn Lytle25, of Lake Elsinore, momentarily broke away from a sheriff official just before she was about to be walked into the secured facility at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, according to officials.

The woman “ran a short distance through the parking lot” before the official caught up with her, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Luke Torres explained in a written press release after the incident. 

Lytle was booked on charges related to vehicle theft and escape,” said Torres

Torres did not specify if Lytle was being booked into jail by a sworn deputy, community service officer or other sheriff’s official.

Today’s moments-long escape comes on the heals of another, almost identical, brief escape from custody that happened just seven days ago, at the Larsen Jail in Indio, Wednesday, June 14.

In that incident, like this one, a sheriff’s official was walking Kevin Rosales, 20, of Beaumont, towards the secured area of the jail facility to be booked on domestic violence-related charges when the handcuffed man “fled from the transporting officer,” Riverside Sheriff’s spokesman Sergeant Chris Willison said at the time. Rosales was eventually re-captured “within proximity to the jail facility.”

SEE RELATED: Domestic violence suspect who fled from Indio Jail charged with escape from custody

Today’s strange events began shortly before 9 a.m., when Lytle allegedly leaped into the bed of the Water District truck in the area of Acacia Street and Country Club Boulevard in Lake Elsinore.

Investigating deputies learned that after she jumped into the bed of the truck and the driver got out of the cab, Lytle reportedly told the Water District employee she jumped into his truck because she was thirsty and wanted a drink of water.

Not knowing what else to do and believing the woman was simply thirsty, the driver went to a water cooler located at the rear of the truck and began to pour Lytle some water.

As he was pouring Lytle some water from the cooler, the woman suddenly “got into the truck and attempted to drive away,” said Torres. While Lytle was putting the large utility truck into gear, “the driver managed to reach in and remove the keys from the ignition.”

After snatching the keys from the truck and stopping Lytle from stealing the vehicle, the driver called 911 to report the incident, at which time the woman ran off.

When deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Lake Elsinore Police Station arrived they located and arrested Lytle a short distance away, according to Torres. She was arrested on Lake Street without incident. 

After her second failed attempt to flee, the woman with the runaway thirst who couldn’t seem to stop running away, was eventually booked into jail just before 2 p.m.

An online jail records search revealed Lytle remains in custody, held on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta June 23.

Anyone with information about this incident or investigation is urged to call Riverside County Sheriff’s dispatch at (951) 776-1099, or the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Callers can refer to incident file number L171720047 nd can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

trevor main

Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.

 

 

 

UPDATED: LAKE ELSINORE: ‘Senseless act of violence’ steals the life of ‘Lake Elsinore fixture’

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 14, 10:30 p.m.

LAKE ELSINORE — A long-time Circle K cashier, described both as a “Lake Elsinore fixture” and “the face of Lake Elsinore” was fatally shot this morning at the convenience store he had worked at for more than 12 years. The deadly shooting happened at Circle K at 16331 Lakeshore Drive in Lake Elsinore, Wednesday, June 14.

Sheriffs officials rushed to the scene of the fatal shooting, William Hayes photo

The victim’s identity was released by Circle K officials, who called the killing of 47-year-old, Wildomar resident, Eric Whitcomb, “a senseless act of violence.”

Whitcomb was reportedly at or near the end of his shift when he was fatally shot.

Some media outlets have reported that Whitcomb was shot while standing in front of the convenience store; however, officials have not yet stated if the victim was shot while he was inside or outside the business.

Officials have not released what led up to the deadly confrontation and it was not known if the homicide was the result of a burglary or some other incident. No possible motive has been released by officials.

However, family members of the victim reportedly said the shooting possibly followed a confrontation over the purchase of cigarettes.

After the confrontation, the victim reportedly followed the subject outside the Circle K to get the suspect’s license plate. At some point during the confrontation, the suspect reportedly pulled out a weapon and fired multiple rounds at the victim.

Witnesses at the scene and from the surrounding community reported hearing multiple gun shots fired about the time of the incident.

Early into their investigation, “information was learned” by sheriff’s officials that led them to a nearby Lake Elsinore residence on the 3400 block of Driftwood Lane, Riverside Sheriff’s representative Sgt. Chris Willison said in an interview from the scene. The residence, which is just over one half mile from the Circle K, is north of Lakeshore Drive and east of Lake Street.

A sniper team takes up position while the suspect was being taken into custody. William Hayes photo

Based on information developed during their investigation, members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Services Team (SERT/SWAT) were called in to apprehend 26-year-old, James Coon, who Willison described as a “person of interest” in the deadly incident.

SERT members responded to the scene with no less than three large, armored, tactical rescue vehicles.

During the apprehension, Driftwood Lane and several surrounding streets in the neighborhood were swarmed with SERT members, deputies, investigators and other sheriff’s officials.

According to witnesses at the scene, SERT members successfully detained Coon for further investigation.

It was not immediately known what connection Coon has with the investigation, which Willision said “was active and ongoing.”

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Lake Elsinore Police Station responded to the business about 5:20 a.m., after receiving a 911 call reporting of an assault with a deadly weapon at the location.

During the hours-long investigation, sheriffs officials used a mobile command center as a staging point. William Hayes photo

Deputies arrived at the scene “within minutes” and reportedly found Whitcomb suffering from “multiple gunshot wounds,” Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Raymond Huskey later explained in a written press release.

Officials at the scene immediately summoned firefighters and paramedics to the location. Despite life-saving efforts, Whitcomb succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.

Based on the circumstances, investigators from the Lake Elsinore Station and Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.

While SERT members were apprehending Coon, other sheriff’s investigators and officials remained at the convenience store long into the afternoon; using a nearby Mobile Command Center as a staging point for the ongoing investigation.

Sheriff’s deputies, evidence technicians from the department’s Forensic Services Bureau and other officials could be seen pouring over the convenience store crime scene; photographing, documenting and collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses at the business throughout the afternoon.

During the hours-long investigation, Leonard Verdoom, the victim’s brother-in-law, stood quietly with his two sons outside the taped-off crime scene, sadly watching over the deputies’ progress in the investigation.

Several windows were shot out during the violent confrontation. William Hayes photo

Several windows at the business were shattered and crime scene markers could be seen in various places within the cordoned-off parking lot and inside the business.

As news quickly spread throughout the Lake Elsinore community, family, friends and customers alike began coming forward on social media sharing fond memories of the man they described as “easy-going,” “soft-spoken” and “liked by everyone.”

“I don’t understand…Eric never caused a single problem with anyone,” Joel Hackman, a 67-year-old, Lake Elsinore resident said after hearing about Whitcomb’s death.

Hackman, who said he lives within walking distance of the Circle K and walks to the convenience store daily said, “Everyone liked the guy…he always had a smile for everyone.”

The first official word about the fatal shooting came in the form of a one-sentence Tweet from the Sheriff’s Media Information Bureau about 2:30 p.m., when officials Tweeted, “A person of interest has been detained on the 3400 block of Driftwood in Lake Elsinore regarding the homicide investigation.”

Sheriff’s officials apprehended a “person of interest” in the deadly shooting. William Hayes photo

Other than the Tweet, authorities have said little about the deadly incident; however, in an interview from the scene, Riverside Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Chris Willison said representatives from the department’s Central Homicide Unit would be issuing a press release “at a later point in time.”

Sandra Farthing, director of human resources and training for Circle K’s West Coast division said the company had set up a gofundme account for anyone wanting to help raise money for Whitcomb’s family.

“Whitcomb was a loyal and longtime member of the Circle K family,” officials said on the gofundme page. “After 12 years on the job, there is without a doubt a hole in the hearts of all who knew Eric.”

As of 9 p.m., the gofundme had raised $4,894 towards their goal of raising $10,000.

Anyone with information about the incident or who witnessed the fatal shooting is encouraged to contact Investigator Bishop of the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit at (951) 955-2777 or Detective Deanne of the Lake Elsinore Police Department at (951) 245-3300. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

This is a developing story. Additional information will be updated as it becomes available.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

trevor main

Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.

TEMESCAL VALLEY: New owner details plans for future of recently purchased Tom’s Farms

It’s official, Sunny bought the Farm! Escrow closed on the popular roadside tourist attraction June 9. We are Temescal Valley photo

TEMESCAL VALLEY — Founded in 1971, Tom’s Farms has been sold, purchased by Sunny Hwang, the man who also happens to be the new owner of nearby Glen Ivy Golf Club.

The June 9 purchase price for the sale of the property, which included sixteen buildings and structures on the 46-acre, tourist attraction as well as two nearby, undeveloped parcels, has not been disclosed.

With plans to “update the property” and make Tom’s Farms “more enjoyable for families,” Hwang has said he intends to continue the legacy of Thomas H. Barnes, who started the business 46 years ago. Hwang also says he plans on continuing to maintain Tom’s Farms as a retail and amusement attraction.

Train enthusiasts, both young and old, will enjoy riding on a reproduction of an 1800’s, steam-powered train. Tom’s Farms courtesy image

Tom’s Farms – an Inland Empire landmark – both a welcome roadside attraction

 as well as “destination location”

Tom’s Farms is an Inland Empire landmark and “destination location” for day-trippers and travelers, situated on the 15 Freeway in Riverside County; between San Diego, Orange and San Bernardino Counties.

Founded in 1971 by Barnes as a simple fruit stand, Tom’s Farms morphed over the decades as Barnes gradually built an ever-growing tourist attraction around the original fruit stand, which is now more of a full, farmer’s market.

With free, live entertainment on weekends and holidays; shops, such as the featured, 50,000-square-foot furniture store, complete with 360 degree, wraparound patio, a Candy Shoppe and Wine & Cheese Shoppe; restaurants, such as Señor Tom’s Mexican Restaurant and “the original” Tom’s Old Fashion Hamburger stand, which Barnes added in 1974; and a Family Fun Zone filled with interesting and interactive rides and attractions for children, both young and old; Tom’s Farms is known throughout Southern California and far beyond.

On just about any weekend at Tom’s Farms the location can be seen filled with families, couples-both young and old, shoppers and often times road-weary travelers, who were just seeking a break from the traffic on nearby I-15 when they were fortunate enough to spot any of the numerous, freeway-side billboards trumpeting the location’s many featured attractions.

New owner’s plans for the future of Tom’s Farms both Sunny and shaded

Sunny Hwang, who previously said he wanted to wait until the close of escrow before cementing any timelines for specific projects, is considering a number of possibilities, not only for the existing attractions, but for the two adjacent, vacant properties as well.

According to a June 12, We are Temescal Valley article, among the new attractions Hwang said he is considering is the possibility of “a small-scale farm with barnyard animals and a vegetable garden.”

The addition of more shops is also possible, as well as changes for the existing restaurants.

One thing Hwang said he knows is essential “to improve the shopping experience and to provide areas where families can just relax and enjoy the surroundings” is the addition of more trees and shaded areas. “I definitely want to add more shade,” Hwang explained.

Hwang has also stated he is considering a hotel for one of the two empty and unused parcels located nearby, at the southwest corner of Temescal Canyon and Lawson Roads.

Sunny Hwang of Sunland Properties sees a sunny future in the Temescal Valley

Hwang, the 68-year-old owner and president of Sunland Properties Inc., purchased nearby Glen Ivy Golf Club just over one year ago, for $4.3 million. An avid golfer, Hwang is reportedly often seen trying to improve his game on the links he now owns.

Prior to the 2016 sale of the golf course, which is situated along both sides of Trilogy Parkway, the course and property had been in receivership since March 2014, when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seized the golf course after charging then-owner World Capital Market Inc. with operating a worldwide pyramid scheme.

Hwang’s winning bid for Glen Ivy Golf Club, beat out GOCO Hospitality – which had purchased nearby Glen Ivy Hot Springs spa just months earlier – when a U.S. District Court judge deemed Hwang’s offer to be the winning bid for the golf course.

Just nine months later one might say Hwang also bought the farm, when he became the proud new owner of Tom’s Farms.

In reassuring area residents as well as future potential investors, Hwang explained, “Whatever is developed on the parcels should be compatible with the golf course and Tom’s Farms.”

For more news and information related to the Temescal Valley, visit We are Temescal Valley.

 

 Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

trevor main

Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.