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Monday, May 29, 2023

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The Week in Photos: Two 40-year-old cold-case murders are solved, and crews race to protect L.A.’s water lifeline

Hello, and welcome to this week’s selection of top stories in pictures by Los Angeles Times photographers.

Forecasters are predicting a weeklong heatwave and the threat of widespread snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada. As the historic Sierra snowpack is expected to melt into runoff that is 225% of normal, work crews are scrambling to shore up flood defense along the Los Angeles Aqueduct — L.A.’s water lifeline.

At left, recording-breaking snow runoff from the eastern Sierra Nevada threatens LADWP operations at Owens Lake to control dust and water flow. Right, American avocets feed on brine on the lake, designated a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site of international importance.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


In Ventura County, DNA samples left at the scenes of two four-decades-old homicides led detectives to a one-story house on an Oxnard cul-de-sac and the karate teacher who lived a quiet life there. Tony Garcia was arrested Feb. 9 and charged with first-degree murder for the killings.

“Today he’s a grandpa, but he’s the most dangerous grandpa there is,”

— Ventura County Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Simon

A man wearing a dark jacket and detective's badge on his belt stands beneath a gray sky.

Steven Rhods learned how DNA databases could be leveraged to solve old cases as an investigator with the Ventura County district attorney’s office.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The apartment complex where Lisa Gondek, 21, was killed

A woman and her son navigate a puddle at an Oxnard apartment complex in March. In 1981, Lisa Gondek was killed in her apartment in the complex.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)


Once emptied out by COVID-19, some California downtowns are now rebounding to near their initial cadence. Others not so much.
We took a look at Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco’s post-pandemic recoveries, focusing on the cities’ business centers.

The  intersection of the 101 and 110 freeways  was nearly empty three years ago

The usually dense intersection of the 101 and 110 freeways in downtown Los Angeles was nearly empty three years ago.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Pedestrians make their way through the streets of downtown Los Angeles

Pedestrians make their way through busy streets in downtown Los Angeles this month.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


On Wednesday the Santa Monica City Council approved an additional $122.5-million payout to settle hundreds of sexual abuse claims against the city’s top systems analyst, an exemplary Santa Monica Police Department civilian employee for decades. With the settlements topping $229 million, it is now the most costly single-perpetrator sexual disbursement for any municipality in the state.

It became clear that the police department knew of Eric Uller’s molestation arrest but still let him be a youth volunteer, missing repeated warnings the city employee was a predator.

A close up frame of a tattooed hand resting on  a person's knee while his shadow is projected on the wall behind.

John AM Doe is one of hundreds of victims who were sexually abused as minors while attending Santa Monica’s Police Activities League.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


“You don’t want me here? That’s why I’m gonna stay,”

— Dr. Leah Torres, West Alabama Women’s Center, Tuscaloosa

Following the Supreme Court’s strike-down of Roe vs. Wade last year and abortion becoming illegal in Alabama, a Tuscaloosa clinic was forced to evolve. Dr. Leah Torres of West Alabama Women’s Center has made it a point to stay and face the conservative change head on.

Framed  from a low angle, a teen girl sits on a bed, staring off with a forlorn look

Raven Williams, 17, who just found out she’s six weeks pregnant, takes a break from folding laundry in her home in Northport, Ala. Williams recently went to the West Alabama Women’s Center to get an ultrasound confirming her pregnancy and to get prenatal care from Dr Leah Torres.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A woman holds a strip of black-and-white images of a fetus.

A 27-year-old woman holds images of her 10-week-old fetus at West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa. The clinic, which shut down briefly after Alabama banned abortion, now focuses on prenatal care, birth control, miscarriage treatment and transgender care.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)


California’s first wildfire of the season started Wednesday, sending about 150 personnel from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the San Bernardino County Fire Department to battle the blaze. The Nob fire, which burned 200 acres and was 5% contained Thursday, is still under investigation.

Flames and smoke rise from a wildfire   as a helicopter drops water

The Nob fire burns near Lytle Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest on Wednesday afternoon. The fire, located northwest of Lytle Creek in a remote area, was being investigated as a new start.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters   walks up a hill

A hand crew on its way to fight the Nob fire. About 150 personnel from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the San Bernardino County Fire Department battled the blaze.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


Republicans in several states, including Arizona, Utah, Iowa, Arkansas, West Virginia and Florida, are pitching school voucher programs to combat “the radical woke agenda.” But rural Texas conservatives like their public schools just the way they are. We visited one such school in Meadow, Texas, where “you would be ostracized if you were a woke person in this community,” said Robert Henson, an 80-year-old retired cotton farmer and nightly Fox News watcher.

At left,  a woman smoking and a girl petting a dog; at right, a teen praying

At left, Patricia Vazquez spends time with her daughter Gabriela, a seventh-grader at Meadow School, who plays with the family dog Toby at their home in Meadow, Texas. At right, Fayth Haile prays alongside other Meadow School students during a Youth Bible Study class at the First Baptist Church in Meadow, Texas.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Meadow students play football during lunch.

Meadow School students play football during a lunch break in Meadow, Texas. Of the school’s 255 students, including roughly a third from a neighboring small town, more than two-thirds are considered low-income. The school provides breakfast and lunch to everyone and to-go bags for those who need dinner.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


Following a divorce, a man threatened to kill his son and himself. He was legally banned from buying a gun in California, yet he was able to purchase a Glock pistol and kill the boy.

Now the child’s bereaved mother asks how; feeling as “if the state cares more about the privacy of a dead man than her right to know how he bought the gun that killed her son,” writes The Times’ Hailey Branson-Potts.

A woman sits on a couch in a darkened room, looking at a framed picture of a  boy

Christy Camara, 44, holds a portrait of her son, Wyland Gomes, in her home in Oceano, Calif. Wyland was 10 when his father shot and killed him before taking his own life.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)


Temperatures across California will continue to climb this week, melting deep Sierra snowpack and triggering further potential floods. The heat wave and snowmelt will bring relief to many; but to some, including the flood-battered San Joaquin Valley and the normally dusty prison town Corcoran, the floodwaters may represent a threat.

Birds dot the sky over a water canal near California State Prison

A view of California State Prison in Corcoran.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

An aerial frame of farm machinery flooded in a vineyard

Farm machinery stands flooded in a vineyard in Corcoran, Calif., south of the Tule River.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)


Yosemite National Park is closing most of the Yosemite Valley as the Merced River was expected to exceed 10 feet at the Pohono Bridge and potentially flood roads and other critical infrastructure.

A horizontal frame of a waterfall and its reflection in a puddle  in Yosemite Valley

Upper Yosemite Falls is reflected in a puddle in a meadow in the Yosemite Valley.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)


And finally, book lovers embraced recent warm weather and literature as they joined more than 500 writers, experts and storytellers gathered at USC for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Two children sit on concrete steps outdoors, both reading a book

Emma and Jenna Mackay read during the 28th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Leaning back, next to an open book, a man rests his head on the lap of another person; his eyes closed.

Faith Burkett reads while Asher Stratton rests during the 28th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)


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