Category Archives: Venice Beach News

Venice fire

Probe expands for Venice storage facility fire

A team from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has joined the probe into the Venice storage facility fire that injured several firefighters and took more than 14 hours to control.

The blaze at Extra Space Storage, 658 Venice Blvd., was reported at 7:37 p.m. Saturday, and was declared out at 9:56 a.m. Sunday, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Arriving firefighters found black smoke billowing from the two-story facility, Humphrey said. The bulk of active flame was controlled within six hours.

Firefighters battling the blaze on the weekend. Twitter/@venice4change
Firefighters battling the blaze on the weekend. Twitter/@venice4change

Several firefighters were injured, including one who suffered a back injury and heat blisters, and two who were slightly burned. Other firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

The confined spaces, concrete walls, steel doors and metal ceilings in the two-story building left firefighters confronted with blast oven-like heat.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a damage estimate has yet to be tallied, Humphrey said.

“The LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section requested the assistance of the ATF National Response Team to aid in the cause investigation,” LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said Tuesday in a statement.

About 20 ATF agents and specialists assigned to the National Response Team were working today with LAFD arson investigators and local ATF special agents in the investigation.

Carlos Canino of the ATF said investigators will carefully sift through clues in seeking the cause of the fire.

“They’re going to look behind every nook and cranny,” Canino said. “We have a canine accelerant dog that’s going around, and that dog can smell any gasoline or any accelerant that might have been used.”

The ATF’s National Response Teams, first organized in 1978, have been deployed to hundreds of large fire scenes nationwide, and have been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site.

Venice High

Teenage girl alleges sexual abuse by former Venice High teacher

A lawsuit was filed against Los Angeles Unified on Tuesday on behalf of a teenage girl who alleges she was sexually abused by a former Venice High history teacher and tennis coach, including once in the school’s football stadium press box.

The mother of the girl filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the LAUSD, former teacher Michael Finegold — who also was the public address announcer for varsity football games — and Venice High Principal Elsa Mendoza.

The suit alleges sexual battery, negligence and violations of the civil and education codes.

An LAUSD spokesman did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged misconduct mainly occurred in October 2013 when the girl was 16 years old and primarily consisted of Finegold inappropriately touching the girl and having improper conversations with her.

“He (Finegold) would often ask plaintiff to remain in his classroom
during nutrition, lunch and after school hours where he was alone with plaintiff,” the suit states.

“He would commonly give her back rubs, rub her feet or otherwise engage in inappropriate contact with plaintiff,” the suit states.

On occasion Finegold gave the girl “long and compassionate hugs” in front of students and school employees, according to the lawsuit.

Finegold also once texted the girl and said, “I want to sleep with
you,” and told her in conversations that his marriage was failing and that he was sexually interested in the plaintiff, the suit states.

On Oct. 18, 2013, Finegold asked the girl to go with him to a VHS
football game and invited her to watch from the press box, where he was scheduled to announce the game, the suit states.

During the first half of the game, Finegold began “inappropriate sexual contact” with the girl in front of the team’s official scorekeeper and a local news reporter, according to the lawsuit.

“There was quite a bit of inappropriate and perverse sexual comments being made by Finegold throughout the first half of the game,” the suit states.

Mendoza was told about Finegold’s alleged misconduct with the girl in the press box, but she watched him temporarily leave with the girl and did nothing to intervene, the suit states.

Instead of calling the police as was her duty under the law, Mendoza “called her administration to find out what to do,” the suit states.

After leaving the press box, Finegold went on to continue to inappropriately touch the girl in the back seat of his car, the suit states.

Finegold returned with the girl to the press box, where the plaintiff
was removed by VHS personnel, the suit states.

Finegold was allowed to finish announcing the game, the suit states.

Neither Mendoza nor any of the other “mandated reporters” called police and so the girl and her mother had to make their own report to law enforcement last Oct. 20, the suit states.

After Finegold was arrested, the girl was harassed and ridiculed by
other students, some of whom called her a “slut,” the suit states.

In addition, a substitute teacher, with the girl present in the classroom, spoke of Finegold as a “great teacher” who was missed by other teachers as well as students, the suit states.


Thieves strike Venice SUVs, stealing third-row seats

Police are warning Los Angeles SUV owners to beware of thieves targeting the vehicles’ third-row seats.

There have been four such thefts in the past week in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division, which includes Venice and Westchester.

Vehicle owners were advised to:

— park in a secure garage if possible;

— install an audible car alarm and deploy it any time the vehicle is left unattended, even when at home;

— pull into parking spaces backwards; and

— if possible, take the third-row seat out of the vehicle and store it in a secure location when not in use.

Police lights

Teen taken into custody after crashing stolen station wagon in Venice

A teenage boy crashed a stolen station wagon in Venice today and was taken into custody after a brief chase, authorities said.

The suspect, whose name was not released, crashed the stolen Subaru Outback into a cinder block wall and an iron fence near the intersection of Electric and Westminster avenues around 1:45 am, said Los Angeles police Lt. Mark Day.

He ran from the scene after the crash but was quickly caught, Day said.

Day said the suspect was treated for his injuries and would be booked for driving a stolen vehicle.


Cops arrest Venice break-in suspect who struck while residents were sleeping

A man was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly burglarizing a Venice home while the residents were sleeping.

The break-in occurred in the 600 block of Venezia Avenue about 5 am, said a sergeant at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Station.

The watch sergeant said detectives were looking into whether the suspect, whose name was not immediately released, is linked to other “hot prowls” in the area.

She said there was no indication of a sexual component to the crime. It was unclear whether anything was taken from the home.