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Suspect In Orange Shooting Remains Unconscious, Postponing Mass Shooting Arraignment

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Published
The scene of the shooting in Orange. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

The man arrested for a mass shooting in Orange that left four people dead was set to face arraignment Friday afternoon, but that was postponed until Monday because the defendant remains unconscious.

The Orange County District Attorney's office says the arraingnment will be via video from the man's hospital bed. He's in critical but stable condition with gunshot wounds.

Orange Police Department officials say the accused shooter — 44-year-old Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez — had business or personal connections to the victims.

Police have identified three of those who died as Matthew Farias, 9, Genevieve Raygoza, 28, and Luis Tovar, 50.

The surviving victim — a woman — is in critical condition at a hospital.

The district attorney's office says Gaxiola Gonzalez faces four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and two counts of attempted murder of a police officer.

The charges also come with enhancements for the use of a firearm and premeditation.

Investigators say the gunman locked the gates of the office complex where the shooting took place, preventing the victims from escaping and officers from entering when they arrived.

Also, prosecutors added the special circumstance of multiple murders, which makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty.

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Burbank Police Arrest And Release Tinhorn Flats Owner's Son

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Published
Lucas Lepejian on the Tinhorn Flats patio. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)

Burbank Police have made the first arrest in the ongoing saga of Tinhorn Flats, a Western-themed restaurant and bar that has defied COVID-19 public health orders and dueled with city officials for nearly four months.

Lucas Lepejian, the Tinhorn Flats owner's son, was taken to Burbank City jail Thursday evening for violating a court order, said Lt. Claudio Losacco. Earlier in the day, Lepejian reopened the restaurant in spite of a red tag notice declaring the building unsafe and off limits for occupancy.

Lepejian, 20, was cited and released later that evening on his own recognizance, Losacco said.

Even after the arrest, Tinhorn Flats planned to keep serving diners on Friday, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram feed.

Losacco said the department is evaluating its next steps "minute by minute."

Tinhorn Flats has continued to serve customers after an L.A. Superior Judge allowed the city of Burbank to shut the business down and cut its power. (Several members of the Lepejian family are still facing a lawsuit from the city). Since then, Tinhorn Flats has run on a generator, which the Burbank Fire Department identified as a fire hazard.

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Ovation Awards’ Treatment of Asian Actors and Theater Sparks Mass Exodus

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(Kyle Head for Unsplash)

The Ovation Awards honor the best from local stages.

But after what one prominent Asian American company said was a disrespectful ceremony, dozens of local theaters have cut their ties with the presenting organization, leaving the show’s future in doubt.

Tuesday’s pre-recorded Ovation Awards first mispronounced the name of Jully Lee, who was nominated for best featured actress in a play (her name is pronounced like “Julie”). Then, instead of displaying a picture of Lee, the show put up a picture of fellow Asian cast member Monica Hong.

What’s more, Lee’s play, “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” was credited solely to the Fountain Theatre, with no mention of co-presenter East West Players, one of the country’s top Asian American theater companies. The company also wasn’t credited for a separate co-production with the Pasadena Playhouse, “The Great Leap.”

The next day, East West revoked its membership in the Ovation Awards presenter, LA Stage Alliance, and urged other local companies to do the same. More than two dozen did, including the Center Theatre Group, the Geffen Playhouse, Deaf West Theatre and the Pasadena Playhouse.

“Every time East West Players co-produces in an effort to bring Asian American actors more visibility in L.A. theaters, only the other, predominantly white organization is listed and uplifted at the Ovation Awards,” Snehal Desai, East West’s artistic director, said in a statement posted on social media. “This is what erasure of our work and our community looks like.”

In her own social media post, Lee said she “was not the only person misidentified with a wrong photo/name mispronunciation. I was just the 1st one of the night. #DoBetter doesn’t even scratch the surface.”

In a statement, the nonprofit LA Stage Alliance apologized, adding, “[a] written apology can only do so much, especially when there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. LA Stage Alliance takes its dedication to equality and support of its diverse theatre community and representations seriously.

“With that in mind, effective immediately, LA Stage Alliance will focus on undertaking a visible and transparent transformation so it can be held accountable to the community it serves,” it said.

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Indoor Concerts, Performances, Private Gatherings Can Resume April 15, California Officials Say

Updated
Published
The Los Angeles Master Chorale holds its first virtual High School Choir Festival on June 3. Frances Chee

State health officials have announced that indoor concerts, performances, and other private gatherings can resume starting April 15. But officials are still discouraging indoor events, no matter how low local COVID-19 metrics have fallen.

The new guidance lays out capacity limits for both outdoor and indoor gatherings, which will depend on local restrictions, including which of the state's reopening tiers the county is currently in.

It also comes with some other caveats: In order to attend those gatherings, you'll have to show proof that you're vaccinated, or provide a negative COVID-19 test.

And organizers must set up pre-paid ticket sales, or keep an advance guest list and enforce assigned seating arrangements.

Whether L.A. County will adopt these measures right away is still up in the air. County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis says they need to fully review the state's guidance first.

"There's still some outstanding questions or clarifications that we're waiting to hear from them as well," Davis said, "so whether or not we'll fully align, generally we want to get the final details to see exactly what's being required."

And if a county falls back to the state's most-restrictive purple tier, all gatherings — including those held outdoors — will be off-limits once again.

Local health officials also released updated Orange Tier guidelines for businesses, starting Monday in L.A. County. That's when businesses can increase capacity, and bars that don't serve food can reopen — outdoors only — for the first time since the pandemic began.

There's a 90-minute limit for bar customers, no live entertainment, and no counter service.

These changes comes as California's coronavirus positivity rate has plummeted to a near-record low, alongside the acceleration of the state's vaccination efforts.

L.A. County is also expecting another big shipment of vaccines for next week, adding up to about 397,000. That's an increase of about 50,000 doses from last week's allotment.

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Burbank 'Vehemently Condemns' Tinhorn Flats For Reopening, Hints At Further Steps

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Published
Tinhorn Flats. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

The city of Burbank knows what the staff at Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill have been up to in the last four months as they've battled local officials and flouted COVID-19 health protocols: breaking padlocks, sawing open boarded-up doors, using a generator after having the power cut off and serving customers in a building that was red-tagged as unsafe.

After the latest defiant reopening, which happened yesterday, the city is hinting at further "measured actions," although Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said in a statement last night that "[s]haring our plan prior to implementation could endanger lives."

LaChasse said his department "vehemently condemns the actions of Tinhorn Flats and their persistent unlawful behavior."

The city had already revoked Tinhorn Flats' conditional use permit and cut off its electricity when it posted the red tag notice Wednesday declaring the building off limits for occupancy due to several fire hazards, one of which was the use of the generator.

As of Thursday afternoon, that generator was still buzzing while diners sipped beer and watched baseball on the restaurant's back patio — a space included in the red tag notice.

Meanwhile, the owner's son, Lucas Lepejian, said he plans to address some of the violations outlined in the red tag notice and reopen indoor dining next week.

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Race In LA: 'What Am I?' I'm Just A Pretty Little Girl

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Leilani at around age three with her mother, early 1960s. (Courtesy of Leilani Burrell-White)

It was not easy growing up as the child of a Black father and white mother in Los Angeles in the 1960s, as Leilani Burrell-White did, hearing uncomfortable questions and comments.

Decades later, as a grown woman in college studying human development, she was asked to create a "persona doll," a creative and therapeutic tool that allows one to convey a story in a non-threatening and safe way.

Burrell-White created "Zola," a persona doll with a story based on that of her own childhood self. Written in a child's voice from that era, "Zola" expresses the frustrations that she felt:

"Mommy, today, somebody asked me 'what am I?' My mommy said, "The next time they ask you that, you tell them, 'I'm just a pretty little girl.'"

Well, the next time it happened, I did just what my mommy said. When somebody asked me "What are you?" I said, "I'm just a pretty little girl."

Then they said to me, "No, not that. I mean, are you Black or are you pink?" And I said, "I don't know, I'm just a pretty little girl."

Burrell-White, who works with children and teens, writes for Race In LA about how "Zola" has stuck with her throughout the years, and shares the story that she wrote.

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Morning Brief: It Didn’t Rain Enough In California, Outdoor Drinking Is Back, And … Cheesecake

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A church in South Los Angeles (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s April 2.

It seems like we’re just coming off the tail end of some rainstorms, but those dreary days were actually in January (what is time?) — and they weren’t enough to get California where it needs to be in terms of moisture.

As my colleague Jacob Margolis reports, the state’s rainy season has come to an end, and the verdict is in: drought conditions are getting worse.

Because the weather was so dry last year (you may not have noticed, since you were inside most of the time), 91% of California is now experiencing some level of drought. That means our snowpacks and reservoirs — where we get and store water, respectively — are both far lower than average.

Some areas in the state are already being asked to conserve resources, and more restrictions will likely come down the pike as the year progresses.

And in case you’re wondering: yes, this is bad news for fire season.

For the past decade or so, California wildfires have been getting worse; 14 of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and officials called the number of large fires last year “unprecedented.” Some of that increase is due to climate change, and some is due to a vicious cycle created by wildfires; regrowth in burned areas can be very dry, making the area even more fire-prone than it already was.

A lack of precipitation, which results in drier — as in, more flammable — vegetation, certainly doesn’t help.

Officials and experts are trying to come up with solutions, including the seemingly-silly-but-possibly-useful idea of using plants such as banana trees, which are moisture-heavy, as barriers around homes in fire-prone areas.

"Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't,” says Barath Raghavan, a professor of engineering at USC. “But I think we're all open to new ideas in doing things differently since we've seen the fire environment change so much over the past 10 years."

In the meantime, be prepared to conserve water this summer — and maybe stock up on bananas.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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What Else You Need To Know Today


Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

Verbally attacked at the Huntington Gardens, one woman of Asian descent describes what it feels like to be on the receiving end of racially motivated hate. (LAist)

The intersection of LGBTQ, Latino and Catholic identities is explored in a new podcast hosted by local radio personality Eder Díaz Santillan. (Q Voice News)

Members of the Filipino community in L.A. were advised by the consulate to be vigilant and cautious, due to the increase in hate crimes targeting Asian and Asian American people. (Asian Journal)

In Burbank’s Magnolia Park, small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. (LAist)

Teen pilot Cailey Stewart reflects on her first solo flight at age 16, and what the future has in store. (L.A. Sentinel)

A 25-year-old woman died under mysterious circumstances in an encampment for the unhoused in Canoga Park. (San Fernando Valley Sun)

The Mission Creek strand on the San Andreas Fault is moving way faster than scientists thought. (LAist)

Capirotada, a bread pudding-like dessert, is at the center of one writer’s reflection on his mother’s experience in America. (LAist)


Before You Go … This Weekend’s Outdoor Pick: Flowers!

Explore more than 50 acres of flowers and blooms at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad. (Jason Rosenberg, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

It's time for a day trip! Head to The Flower Fields, a working farm in Carlsbad, where you can explore more than 50 acres of flowers and blooms with views of the Pacific Ocean.

Or, check out some of these options: Solve an online murder mystery set in 1960s Los Angeles. Play the ponies. Dance through prison walls. Explore Gen Z and Millennial fashion. Watch WeHo's campiest celeb impersonators play the MisMatch Game. Spring into Easter with all sorts of festive celebrations. And more.


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