Latest Southern California news, sports, business and entertainment


Authorities ID 4 killed in apparent murder-suicide

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have identified the couple and two children who are dead after a suspected murder-suicide at a Southern California home.

A posting on the San Bernardino County coroner's website identifies them as 38-year-old Ramon Miranda, 34-year-old Silvia Miranda, 10-year-old Rayna Miranda and 12-year-old Ramon Miranda Jr.

Police called to a home in Fontana on Monday night found the family of four shot to death. The woman and children had been shot several times and the man was shot once in the head.

Police say they suspect the man killed the others before turning the gun on himself.

There's no word on a motive.


Mexican sales tax hike possible boon on US border

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Mexican license plates are common in parking lots of shopping malls in U.S. border cities. Merchants and shoppers say they will be even more familiar after Mexico raises its sales tax in border regions to match the rest of the country.

The increase to 16 percent from 11 percent takes effect Wednesday.

It has sparked large protests on the Mexican side of the border. Facebook pages with secessionist tones have generated about 200,000 "likes." Thousands have signed petitions to challenge the tax hike in court.

The Mexican government says the two-tiered tax structure — introduced decades ago to make border cities competitive — is no longer justified. Others say the increase may backfire by driving more shoppers north of the border.


California marks 2013 as historically dry year

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a large swath of California, 2013 is closing out as the driest year on record, marked by above-normal temperatures and thirsty reservoirs.

While a drought has not been declared, some communities have urged residents to conserve water.

Dozens of cities from Sacramento to Los Angeles saw historically parched conditions that set new marks in record-keeping that in some cases dates back more than a century.

The lack of rainfall does not bode well for the winter's first snow survey that will be released on Friday.

Already, many of the state's major reservoirs are below average for the month.

December is typically one of the wettest months. Despite an arid month, forecasters say there's still hope for rain in the coming months.


Fire guts vacant S. Calif. bowling alley

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — More than 100 firefighters have contained a suspicious fire that gutted a vacant Southern California bowling alley and sent pillars of smoke and flame into the sky.

The five-alarm blaze erupted shortly after 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in San Bernardino.

City fire spokesman Tom Rubio says 120 firefighters battled the blaze in the boarded-up, 20,000-square foot building.

He says the fire sent 50-foot flames through the roof, most of which collapsed. The intense heat forced fire crews to battle the flames from outside on ladders and with hoses on the ground.

At its peak, the building was a sea of flame and massive pillars of black and white smoke boiled into the sky.

It took about an hour to contain the blaze.

Authorities say the fire is considered suspicious.


Big pothole on LA freeway damages dozens of cars

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities have reopened a Los Angeles freeway interchange, some 7 ½ hours after a pothole filled with metal rods flattened the tires on dozens of cars.

About 30 to 40 vehicles had to pull over starting around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday after running over the gaping hole in a bridge on the transition road from south Interstate 5 to east Interstate 10.

Some vehicles had flat tires while at least one had its driver's-side air bag deployed.

The cars apparently hit metal reinforcing bars exposed when a chunk of roadway disintegrated.

The California Highway Patrol tells City News Service that the 6-foot-by-3-foot hole developed after a truck hauling a cement mixer crashed at the site Monday night.

The CHP says all lanes of the transition road reopened at about 2 p.m.


Riverside police kill man armed with gun at park

(Information in the following story is from: The Press-Enterprise,

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Riverside police have shot and killed a man they say pulled a gun on them at a park.

The Los Angeles Times says two officers contacted the man at Arlington Park at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Authorities say that's when he pulled a handgun and was shot. He died at the scene.

His name hasn't been released.

The officers weren't injured.


11 treated after gas leak at LA refinery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities say a leak at a Los Angeles oil refinery sent nearly a dozen workers to the hospital after they were exposed to toxic sulfur dioxide gas.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says the leak was reported at about 10 a.m. at the Phillips 66 refinery in the Wilmington area.

City News Service says 11 people with possible breathing problems were examined at hospitals and released.

After about an hour, authorities reported there was no active leak and no danger to the community.

Phillips 66 spokesman Rich Johnson says other employees and contract workers were safe and the refinery is operating normally.


Security beefed up for New Year's Day Rose Parade

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Police in Pasadena plan to beef up security measures for the 125th Rose Parade in the wake of bombings at the Boston Marathon.

The Pasadena Star-News reports police will use bomb-sniffing dogs and a wide range of video surveillance to detect any suspicious behavior during the New Year's Day parade, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of revelers.

Police Chief Phillip Sanchez also estimates there will be more than 1,100 officers that will patrol the parade route. Several protests are planned.

Many parade-goers will camp out overnight to secure prime viewing spots. The theme of the parade is "Dreams Come True." Temperatures are expected to reach to the mid-70s on Wednesday.


Gang member convicted as teen to be released early

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Breeze,

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — A gang member who was 13 years old when a Carson woman was killed is scheduled to be released from a juvenile facility two years earlier than expected, angering the victim's family.

The Daily Breeze reported Tuesday that 22-year-old Doheen Pratt was given a discharge by a juvenile parole board and could be released as early as this week. Pratt was convicted of murdering 19-year-old Nicole Williamson who was killed in 2003.

Pratt received a nearly 10-year sentence in 2006, the maximum term possible for a 13-year-old. Had Pratt been 14 years old, he could have been tried as an adult.

Williamson's family has repeatedly attended parole hearings, urging state authorities to keep Pratt locked up. They say Pratt has never expressed remorse or apologized to them.


Contempt motion tossed for Costa Mesa official

(Information in the following story is from: Los Angeles Times,

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — A judge in Orange County has refused to hold Costa Mesa's mayor pro tem in contempt of court for revealing confidential information that someone placed a tracking device on his truck during the 2012 election season.

The Los Angeles Times reports Judge David Hoffer denied a contempt motion by the Costa Mesa Police Officers' Association. Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger and Mayor Jim Righeimer have sued the police association, claiming they were harassed and intimidated so the organization could have leverage in contract negotiations.

The association asserts Mensinger and his lawyers violated a court order that sealed results of two search warrants served in an investigation involving the police association. Some of the information included the tracking device placed on Mensinger's truck.