Norwalk man charged with murder for fatal DUI crash

NORWALK -- A Norwalk man was charged today with killing two people and injuring others in a DUI crash on the 605 Freeway.
Alex Barragan (dob 8/27/86) faces two counts of murder and one count each of driving under the influence of alcohol within 10 years of another DUI offense and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense.
Arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday at Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bellflower Branch.
On July 16, Barragan was allegedly driving his car on the freeway near Alondra Boulevard when he rear ended a disabled van, prosecutors said. The van erupted in flames and two people died and three others were injured, prosecutors added.
If convicted as charged, Barragan faces a possible maximum sentence of 44 years to life in state prison.
Bail is scheduled at more than $2.19 million.
The case remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol, Santa Fe Springs Area.

Norwalk man talks about life on a Navy supercarrier

PEARL HARBOR – A 2009 Norwalk Adult School graduate and Norwalk native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

 Thomas Kozlowski

Thomas Kozlowski

Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas Kozlowski is a hull maintenance technician aboard USS Carl Vinson, currently operating out of San Diego. 

A Navy hull maintenance technician is responsible for welding pipes and fittings around the ship, and fabricating structures. 

Kozlowski applies the lessons learned from Norwalk to working in the Navy. 

“Having the drive to succeed which I learned from my hometown has helped me in the Navy,” said Kozlowski. "I always try to do better." 

As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971. 

The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations. 

“I'm most looking forward to being able to tour ships from the different participating nations, and experiencing their culture,” said Kozlowski. 

This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position. 

“I'm most proud of completing the Navy Dive School,” said Kozlowski. "It was the biggest achievement of my Naval career.” 

Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. 

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Kozlowski and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs. 

“The Navy has shown me that I'm not scared of anything,” said Kozlowski. “Serving in the Navy for me means being a part of a greater cause. I get to pave the way for the future of the Navy."

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Last Rabies Clinic of the year being held this week

The last rabies clinic of the year will take place on Thursday, July 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Norwalk City Hall. 

VetCare will administer individual vaccines, with microchipping and flea products also available on site. 

Dogs must be on leashes and cats in carriers. 

Norwalk residents may also renew their pet licenses and should bring renewal letters with them. 

For more information, please call Dog Licensing at 562-929-5711. 

Part II of an interview with Bob Archuleta

NORWALK – A continuation of an interview with the California Democratic state Senate District 32 candidate Bob Archuleta. An interview with his opponent, Republican Rita Topalian, is scheduled for later this month.

Most elected officials cite Public Safety as their primary concerns. What are your concerns regarding the 900,000 plus population of the 32nd district?

“Public safety is going to be right up there at the top of the list…But guess what? One city may have a formula that we can use in another city. That’s important in bringing people together.”
“[In] the city of Pico Rivera, we’re protected by the LA County Sheriff (Department) and their Deputies and I have a great relationship with the LA County Sheriff.”

“Of course the other cities, the city of Downey, Montebello, they have their city police. The city of Whittier has their city police. So I’ve got to deal with them in a different way because of the fact that each city has different procedures, but all under the umbrella of the state of California.”

“One of the things I want to make sure, that God forbid, there is an issue, a shooting, an earthquake, whatever it might be, that all these different entities can talk with one another.”

“[They should have] all the same radio frequencies that they can talk with one another.”

“They’ve got to unite their communications, their procedures.”


The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department reports a huge shortage of deputies. In Norwalk, we have allocated resources for five additional deputies but have not met those goals. Also in Norwalk, there is one deputy assigned to two high schools, Norwalk and John Glenn. How can we gain the personnel?

“In Norwalk, I would like to meet with the Mayor, the City Manager and the Captain, who’s in charge of the Norwalk Station, because I want to ask, how is it that you have one Deputy [for] two high schools?”

“I’d like to start meeting with the school districts and the various police Departments and Sheriff to start training and teaching our Teachers on how to prepare our kids. We need to be proactive.”

Regarding the arming of Norwalk based high school deputies with weapons of war, the AR-15:
“I think most of us, who like myself, I served with the Montebello Police Department, we always had to be ready. Every law enforcement who’s out there must be ready for the tragedy that may face them in the next twenty, ten minutes.”

“The equipment they carry in their automobile is ready to handle any situation. We need to make sure they’ve got all the equipment they need.”

Additionally, Archuleta shared, “What that may be, should remain confidential. We don’t need to have that out in the public, but to assure the public that our sheriff Deputies and police officers are well trained, well informed and ready to take on any emergency.”


Many would regard the homeless situation in the nation at epidemic levels. What are your views on homelessness and what can the State, county and local entities do to help/assist those in need?

“Charity begins at home. If somebody in your family looks like that they need help, I would hope that they would turn to their family first, their church second and then of course comes all the social [service] side of it all, the County of Los Angeles, the State of California. But I think we need to start working within our own.”

“There are some success stories. In Pico Rivera, along our river banks (Pico Rivera is bordered between the San Gabriel on the East and the Rio Hondo River on the west); we’ve had the homeless there on the river banks. We started working with the county and bringing Caltrans over there. We are continuously cleaning up. We have one deputy and his job is to stay near the riverbed and to make sure there isn’t any activity violating the law. He’s there on call all the time.

"We’re doing it with a soft heart. That’s why we call it hearts of compassion.

“Remember, we have three types of homelessness: one is, they’ve just had a hard time. Mathematically. So they can be helped right away with resources. The other one has mental issues and of course there are those who just don’t want to give up their freedom.”

“I would be careful of putting a tag on any of them, but we know of three types.”

“As an elected official of the 32nd State Senate District, I [would] want to go to the state hospital. I want to know what they have, what they’re doing; the land that they have, is there room and why haven’t we addressed that.”

“We want everyone to participate. What may be working in Pico Rivera, may not work in Norwalk or Cerritos.”
“We have some of the brightest elected officials of all these cities.”


You pride yourself on “Taking phone calls and returning them.”  With the added responsibilities of the 32nd State Senate District, can you continue that personal policy or will you delegate more responsibilities to your qualified subordinates?

“Everyone in the State Senate has a staff, and having a staff able to think like you with the passion which you have and also have the sense of duty that you have; that’s the staff that I’m going to put together.

“Maybe my phone calls will be three minutes long instead of twenty.”

“I believe everyone deserves an answer. If you’ve got time to put the question on the table, then I should have the time to do the research and give you the answer. It may not be the one you like, but it will be the one that you can research, backup and hopefully we can find a solution if we discover there is a problem.”

What are your views on the recent enabled gas tax and what are your plans regarding its future?

“The gas tax hurts. When you go to the gas pumps, no doubt. But when you’re driving to the gas pumps did you hit a pot hole? Yes, you did. In most cases, yes you did.  And did you curse out the window? Yes, you did. Did you have to repair your flat tire? Yes, you did.”

“Why does everyone want to be driving on the freeways at 5:00 when we have empty trains? That’s exactly what we’re talking about.”

“We are very unique in California. We like our automobiles. That means more wear and tear on our roads. We have to think 25 years in advance.”

“Every city in the 32nd District is going to be allocated millions of dollars over time to repair their roads and make sure they are safer and better.”

“I don’t like it. You don’t like it, but let’s make sure it accountable. Our infrastructure is very vital to the state of California.”


How important is the protection and equal access to the beauty of California’s natural resources (IE, Coastal drilling for fossil fuels, tapping ground water reserves, higher entry fees to recreational areas)?

“Well, you’re speaking about the environment. How do we best protect our environment? I’m going to do everything I can to protect our natural resources because that’s what makes California different. We have the most beautiful countryside, the mountains that any state can brag about.”


“I just want to thank everyone who voted in the June primary. I’d like to personally thank everyone. I thank the good Lord. I honestly do. I went to all the churches…everyone came together…That is the voice of the people and I’m taking that to Sacramento and I’m going to show them that the 32nd District is a united district.”

“I’d like us to be an example to the state of California that we can come together as a united front to protect our environment, our schools, our children, our seniors, honor our veterans and do it all with God’s help.”

Interview conducted by Raul Samaniego.

An interview with state Senate candidate Bob Archuleta

NORWALK – Meet Bob Archuleta, Democrat candidate for the regular California State Senate District 32 seat up for grabs in the November 2018 California general election.

This year there are technically four elections; on June 5, the California Primary was held and voters went to the polls in Norwalk, Downey and all the cities represented by the State Senate 32nd District to choose two candidates from two different terms.


This situation came about with the resignation of former state Senator Tony Mendoza, who resigned prior to being scrutinized by the Senate for likely improprieties involving female staff members.

Because this is an election year, no special election was called and the selection process for Mendoza’s remaining term was placed on the June 5 ballot.

This may have caused some confusion, for voters saw almost identical lists of candidates for the two sets of primaries. One for the short term (expiring December 31, 2018), and one set for the regular term which will be for four years starting in January of 2019.

Archuleta’s Republican opponent in the November general election is Whittier attorney Rita Topalian. Topalian agreed to a sit-down interview on Monday, June 25, so the readers and voters can meet her as well.

Vanessa Delgado, mayor of the City of Montebello, was the runner up in the special primary for the remainder of Mendoza’s term and will need to decide if she will indeed run or what other plans she has.

That special election is slated for Tuesday, August 7, and will be solely for the selection of a person to complete the remainder of the vacant term. Delgado’s opponent in that special election will also be Topalian, who had garnered the most votes in the special primary. 

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Democrat candidate Bob Archuleta at Diana’s Restaurant in south Norwalk.

The format would be about a dozen open-ended questions concerning some of the issues concerning all of the communities of the 930,000 strong California 32nd state Senate district. 

Bob. Archuleta admits to being “70ish” and has lived in the area all his life. Prior to our sit-down, he spoke with a group of diners sharing that he used to sell roses along the streets in his youth for extra cash.

Archuleta served in the 82nd Airborne for three years during the Vietnam era and was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He’s been married to his current wife, Rose, for 15 years (this November), has five children and seven grandchildren. 

Two of his sons graduated from the United States Military Academy and are serving as officers in the US Army as a captain and major.

Archuleta shared that he served the public as a sworn police officer in the Montebello Police Department. He admitted that at the urging of Rep. Grace Napolitano, he entered politics, winning a seat on the Pico Rivera City council back in 2007.

He considers himself the “equal opportunity candidate” in that he doesn’t care of age, heritage, hair color or anything when it comes to serving the people.

Why are you running for the 32nd State Senate District?
In answer to the question of why he was running for state Senate, Archuleta made reference to a lifetime of “service and representation.” Asked for specifics, he spoke of his serving through the “military, community service and serving and representing our veterans.”

He made mention of serving almost a million LA County-based veterans as military commissioner of veterans affairs for 24 years.

He also cited his 10-year history of working in the Montebello Police Department, which gave him the opportunity to “talk with people,” directly on issues regarding law enforcement.

Finally, his service as an elected official on the Pico Rivera City Council was his opportunity to “straighten it out.” That is, he said it “was upside down financially, graffiti, the parks were a mess, the library was falling apart.”

“I am here (running for the state Senate) because of the call to duty. My friends and neighbors said, ‘Bob, you got to take it to the next level.’”

Citing the resignation of Mendoza, he saw an opportunity to bring the leadership that the 32nd Senate District needed.

His opponents in the primaries sought to label Archuleta a Republican in sheep’s clothing or the “Republican Democrat.” This was done with scathing campaign literature from a fellow Democrat whose supporters are said to have invested nearly $2 million in a campaign where Archuleta raised a tenth of that. His thoughts:

“Wow! I’ve never heard of such a statement (Republican Democrat). But I can tell you this: I have heard of a very conservative Democrat, a Democrat who can reach across the aisle. I’ve heard of a Democrat who can bring people together, and that’s me. I’m going to unite as many people as I possibly can.”

“You can’t tell me that a problem in Norwalk or Downey or Cerritos or wherever, is only a Democratic or only a Republican problem.”

“I want clean air, clean water, I want better public transportation, I want to be able to send my kids to school in a safe environment.”

Archuleta considers his campaign a “political miracle.” “Never in the history of the 32nd district, or any district, where an opponent had almost $2 million thrown in on her side, and my side had only $200,000.”  

According to Archuleta,” this came from housewives, veterans, independents. Everybody was pitching in.”

“I’m going to bring leadership, integrity and a sense of duty that we’ve never seen before.”

The current administration has called for the deployment of National Guard troops along the United States border, including a request for California’s National Guard to participate.

“Their job is to take orders from our Commander in Chief,” said Archuleta. “Whatever mission they’re on, they are going to do it right, do it quick with pride and honor.

“Our job is to make sure they are safe, they come home to their families because they are citizens, neighbors, relatives, aunts and uncles, and we need to make sure we honor them every day, regardless of their mission.”

In the next installment, Archuleta answers questions on public safety, homelessness, the gas tax, handicap accessibility, and California’s natural resources.

By Raul Samaniego, contributor

Norwalk’s Albert Steele nominated for Older American of the Year

NORWALK -- Norwalk resident Albert Steele has been nominated for the Older American of the Year award, sponsored by the L.A. County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services. 

 Albert Steele

Albert Steele

Steele and his wife, Luella, have called Norwalk home for more than 45 years and have a long history of volunteering. Albert is a fixture at the Norwalk Senior Center and for more than 10 years has assisted in a variety of capacities, including as a tour guide on senior trips and a concierge desk volunteer, 

Most recently, he has taken on an active role as leader of the senior center’s community garden, where local seniors, many of whom have limited space at home, can grow herbs and vegetables, enjoy physical activity, and connect with others. 

“Mr. Steele is well-regarded for his positive and energetic disposition and for making Senior Center patrons feel welcome,” the city said in a statement. 

In addition, Albert is a volunteer for the Social Services Center’s Angel Tree Project, a beloved annual Norwalk tradition where local children whose families are experiencing difficulties enjoy a festive holiday celebration with Santa Claus and receive gifts of toys and clothing. 

“Mr. Steele embodies community spirit and is committed to supporting programs that benefit the Norwalk community,” the city said. 

Albert represented Norwalk at the 53rd annual Older Americans Recognition Day luncheon on May 17 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. 

Albert was nominated for Older American of the Year by the Norwalk Senior Citizens Commission. 

Norma Amezcua chosen to fill vacant school board seat

 Facebook photo

Facebook photo

NORWALK – By a 6-0 vote, the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District board of education appointed Norwalk resident Norma Amezcua to fill the board seat left vacant by the resignation of Sean Reagan.

Amezcua is scheduled to be sworn in May 29 in the board chambers where she was selected from four finalists including David Randall Fox, Christopher L. Staples and Jorge Tirade.

Amezcua and Tirado were also candidates in last year’s selection process to replace Margarita Rios after she resigned and won a seat on the Norwalk City Council.

Darrell Adams, long time school board member, did take the time to mention that no representation from the Norwalk council were present at the evening’s proceedings.

All candidates seemed genuinely nervous but Amezcua kept her answers specific and on target.

All four candidates were praised for their qualifications and efforts in the selection process in one form or another from all six board members as they cast their votes in the final choice between Amezcua and Staples.

Amezcua currently is the assistant director of early care and education programs for the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF). She is also a member of Norwalk’s Social Service Commission.

She will not have much time for rest as her board seat is up for election in November. Amezcua said she plans on running.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Amezcua earned a bachelor’s degree from Pacific Oaks College in Human Development and a Master of Education Degree in Human Development, Family Studies and Related Services from Cal State Long Beach. 

Raul Samaniego, contributor