Monday, March 10, 2003

On January 15, 2003 Hollenbeck officers Mark Dimitt and James Lopez, confronted an armed suspect at the intersection of Newtonia Drive and Guardia Avenue. They were in the process of investigating an ADW, shots fired situation and they were directed to the suspect by a witness. They confronted the suspect at a bus stop and ordered him to raise his hands. The suspect reached into his waist area, produced a pistol and began firing at the officers. They returned fired and killed him. The subsequent investigation indicated that the suspect had shot and killed a barber just a few blocks away.

When we read this account, we were reminded that this is not Officer Mark Dimitt's first encounter with armed suspects. We came across Officer Dimitt's prior encounter with none other that Anthony "Tonito" Medina some time ago. If we recall correctly , this incident occurred in 1999. Dimitt and his partner at the time, Hollis Berdin, the wife of Northeast Detective John Berdin, made a vehicle stop on a pickup truck with three occupants at the intersection of York and Aldama. Unknown to the officers, the deviousTonito was lying in the pickup bed with a Glock model 17 pistol equipped with a laser sight. The gun was also equipped with a Plus 2 basepad in the magazine that brought the total round count in Tonito's gun to 19.

As the officers came to a stop behind the truck, Medina popped up and aimed the gun at them. Berdin and Dimitt later testified in court that they saw the red dot move from one to the other. They both bailed out, took cover and Dimitt fired one round at Medina. Untouched, Medina made like Road Runner and took off on foot with the gun. He still had the laser sight on and additional responding coppers literally followed the bouncing red dot right to where Medina hid out in the bushes of a vacant lot.

Tonito Medina, a hardened Avenues gangster and associate of Lil Pee Wee Aguirre, (younger brother of Alex Aguirre currently doing the whole book in Marion Federal Pen), was prosecuted and convicted of murder, a killing that put him on the LAPD wanted list. A few months before his encounter with Dimitt and Berdin, Medina murdered Luis Figueroa, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who Medina thought was making time with his girlfriend. It turns out, Figueroa barely knew the girl and he was really interested in another girl, a friend of Medina's girlfriend. Medina was also convicted of ADW on the two coppers.

Just to bring everything up to date, Medina is currently on trial again for two more murders -- Manuel Dellosa and Ferdie Olmedo -- two small fry allegedly in Pinoy Real, a Filippino gang in Northeast.

So, as we started off saying, here's our tip of the hat to Officer Dimitt for maintaining his cool and returning effective fire. Well done. And thanks for your service to this city.