PUBLIC SAFETY BRIEFS – November 22, 2017

ROCS Team helps homeless veteran find housing

One of the primary duties of the Hemet Police Department’s ROCS (Restoring Our Community Strategy) team is to respond to and help develop solutions for Hemet’s homeless population and related vagrancy issues. ROCS officers recently made contact with a person in the 1200 block of S. Cawston Ave. and determined he was an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army. ROCS detectives were able to find available housing for the veteran. If you know of or come into contact with a homeless veteran of our armed services, help is available. This is the fourth homeless veteran for which ROCS officers have been able to find housing. The ROCS Team is funded by revenue from Measure U. For information on veteran assistance please visit https//www.va.gov/homeless/index.asp.


Assault with a deadly weapon

Officers from the California Highway Patrol responded to a major injury traffic collision near the 59000 block of Everett Road in Anza on Nov. 17 at about 4:45 p.m. The collision reportedly involved an off-road vehicle with two male adult riders and a pickup truck, which fled the scene. Both riders of the off-road vehicle were seriously injured and transported to local hospitals via medical air transport. Witness statements and physical evidence suggested the incident was the result of the theft of marijuana plants stolen from a nearby property. Based on the circumstances, investigators from the Hemet Station and the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit responded to the scene and assumed the investigation. No arrests have been made and no further information will be released at this time.
Anyone with information regarding this incident can contact Investigator Medina at the Hemet Station at 951-791-3400, or Investigator Harvey at the Central Homicide Unit at 951-955-2777.


Carjacking and armed robbery suspect arrested after brief chase

On Nov. 14 at about 8:30 p.m., Hemet Police officers responded to a report of a carjacking in the parking lot of 220 N. Sanderson Ave. The suspect approached the victim at gunpoint and took the victim’s keys, got into the victim’s vehicle and drove away. As officers were obtaining further information from the victim at the scene, another Hemet Police officer conducting an area check located the vehicle being driven by the suspect.
The suspect led officers on a brief pursuit that ended at Winchester and Benton roads in the county of Riverside when the suspect jumped out of the moving vehicle and fled on foot. The suspect was apprehended by Hemet Police officers.
After further investigation, the suspect was identified by HPD as being involved in several armed robberies that occurred in Hemet this past month. The suspect, identified as Anthony Screws, 31, of Hemet, was arrested on suspicion of several counts of robbery, carjacking, felony probation violation and possession of a gun. He was later transported to Riverside County Jail. Screws’ bail is set at $1,110,000.


Riverside man charged with sexually assaulting RTA bus riders

On Friday, Nov. 10 at 3:50 p.m., officers from the Menifee Police Department responded to an RTA bus parked near the intersection of Sun City and McCall boulevards in Menifee. Upon arrival, officers learned Michael Douglas Avery, a 46-year-old Riverside resident, had allegedly inappropriately touched several female bus riders during the bus route from Riverside to Menifee.
Avery was arrested and booked at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of several counts of sexual battery, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and parole violation.
This investigation is continuing. Pertinent information involving this case or other possible victims should be forwarded to Officer Buelna or Officer Cardinale at the Perris Sheriff Station at 951-210-1000, or by email at PerrisStation@RiversideSheriff.org.


Felon sentenced to 10 years for robbing elderly couple of Soboba Casino winnings

Curtis Lee Howard, Jr., 26, a San Jacinto resident, was sentenced on Oct. 16 to serve 10 years in state prison for attacking and robbing an elderly couple who was leaving Soboba Casino with their winnings. Howard pleaded guilty on Aug. 31 to robbery and a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing a felony while out on bail. Howard also admitted to one count of possession of controlled substances while armed from a prior arrest. According to a news release by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, an elderly couple was heading home from an evening of gambling at Soboba Casino late in the evening of Aug. 16 when their vehicle was rear-ended by an SUV.
The victims stopped their vehicle at Hewitt and Main streets when they were confronted by Howard and another person. The husband was allegedly beaten by Howard, who stole their casino winnings and fled after sideswiping the vehicle, further injuring the husband. The wife was unharmed. Howard was arrested the following day. Howard has not identified the other suspect, who remains at large.
Howard faced additional charges of elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon, which were dropped. Howard previously served time in state prison within the last five years, and was waiting for a court appearance on a drug-related offense when he was arrested for the robbery, according to court records.


HPD receives traffic enforcement and crash prevention grant

The Hemet Police Department was awarded a $130,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. HPD will use the funding as part of the city’s ongoing commitment to keep the roadways safe and improve the quality of life through enforcement and education. After falling to a 10-year low in 2010, the number of persons killed on roadways has climbed nearly 17 percent across the state, with 3,429 fatalities in 2015. Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities now comprise nearly 25 percent of all traffic deaths, along with the growing dangers of distracting technologies and the emergence of drug-impaired driving. This grant funding will provide opportunities to combat these and other devastating problems such as speeding and crashes at intersections.
“Unsafe behaviors account for 94 percent of traffic crashes,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “This grant emphasizes the two most effective ways to change behaviors – education and enforcement. Hemet Police Department, with assistance from the Office of Traffic Safety, will use these tools to help keep Hemet streets safe.”

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