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Today in
S.C.V. History
June 24
1980 - Saugus Train Station relocated to Hart Park, Newhall [story]
Saugus Train Station

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna presented medals to deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and one retired LASD detective for their heroic actions with the highest honors during the annual Valor Awards Ceremony held on Thursday, Nov. 2. These medals are awarded annually to LASD members along with other individuals who perform acts of great bravery or heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk.

In 1982, the LASD Valor Awards Program was established to officially and publicly recognize the exceptionally heroic acts performed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department members. These awards symbolize acts of bravery, heroism in the context of saving lives, instances of enduring physical trauma in the line of duty, the preservation of human life, personal dedication and selfless sacrifice in the service of others.

The Master of Ceremonies, Marc Brown, a news anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News since 1989. has won six Emmys, a Golden Mike, an Associated Press award and a Radio and Television News Directors Association award for excellence in TV News reporting, narrated the awards, recounting the heroic actions of each award recipient before an audience of nearly 300 LASD personnel, colleagues, family and friends.

As part of a special presentation, Luna awarded the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Humanitarian Award to officers from the Inglewood Police Department and Los Angeles Police Department for their courageous acts when they entered Saugus High School during an active shooting in 2019.

Upon the presentation of awards to the deserving recipients in acknowledgment of their heroic actions, Luna conveyed his deep sense of pride for each hero who had selflessly risked their own lives to save others.

The 2023 award recipients:

Santa Clarita Valley Staton

Retired Detective Daniel G. Finn- (Medal of Valor)

Sergeant James M. Callahan- (Meritorious Conduct-Gold)

Detective Gus Ramirez- (Humanitarian Award)

Officer Sean C. Yanez- (Humanitarian Award)

On the morning of Nov. 14, 2019, Detective Finn was off duty and used the opportunity to drive his girlfriend’s son, a senior at Saugus High School, to the school campus. After saying goodbye, Finn telephoned one of his partners, the school resource deputy assigned to Saugus High. During their conversation, Finn noticed dozens of students fleeing in panic from the school campus. The students were running out of several hallways and corridors, leading the detective to believe that there must be a large fight or some other significant disturbance on campus. He described what he was witnessing to the resource deputy and asked his partner if he had heard any information on the radio as to what was causing the panic. The resource deputy responded that he was not currently on campus and had not heard of anything unusual occurring at the school.

Finn then noticed the number of students fleeing the school had increased considerably. He pulled his vehicle to the curb, rolled his passenger window down and asked a student running by what had happened. The student, who was pale and out of breath, managed to utter that there was someone shooting a gun on campus. Finn directed the resource deputy, who was responding from the Canyon Country area, to initiate an “active shooter” broadcast occurring on the campus of Saugus High School. Finn maneuvered his car around hundreds of students who were now spilling out of the school’s gates while relaying his actions to the deputy. Finn armed himself with his off-duty weapon and rushed into the school wearing only blue jeans and a T-shirt emblazoned with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station crest and worked his way west, down an administrative walkway toward the school’s inner courtyard. His training and years of experience as an “active shooter” course instructor guided his actions as he proceeded toward the assailant. Finn was now walking in the direction of the courtyard, toward the chaotic sounds of screaming students. He noticed that as he was getting closer, these sounds were fading, perhaps indicating that the situation had become more precarious.

Prior to reaching the end of the corridor, Finn was joined by Inglewood Police Department Officer Sean Yanez, who had just dropped off his own son for school and had also witnessed the sudden panic of fleeing students. The two officers coordinated their response, each covering the other, as they passed potentially dangerous doorways, windows and other outlets where a suspect could have been waiting or hiding. Despite the obvious personal danger, they could be facing, the two pressed forward without regard for their own safety. Upon reaching the school’s inner courtyard, Finn recognized the school principal was on scene. He directed the principal to secure the school, including the perimeter gates and individual classrooms.

The courtyard was empty of students, except for two teens lying on the ground a short distance from the administrative offices. There were countless backpacks, cellular telephones and books strewn about the ground. Half-eaten snacks, tipped over water bottles and drinks and dozens of jackets were lying on the ground. An area which had been vibrant and full of life and laughter, then filled with sounds of screams and terror, was now completely quiet, desolate and absent of sound. The silence itself was deafening.

The two officers continued moving forward toward the two students lying on the ground, a boy and a girl. As they drew closer, Finn observed a third victim lying just beyond a large tree and ran to his aid. Finn knelt beside the young man, noticing a gunshot wound to his torso, and comforted the boy. Unfortunately, the victim would succumb to his wounds later at a nearby hospital.

Finn, now joined by off-duty Los Angeles Police Department Officer Gus Ramirez and several other administrators, began to render medical aid to the two remaining victims. During their life saving efforts, the officers observed an empty pistol lying at one of the teens’ feet, leading them to suspect that this may be the person who had perpetrated this senseless crime. Sadly, the female victim would not survive her injuries. The male, who sustained a gunshot wound to the head, clung to life and was transported to a nearby medical facility. Days later, he also would succumb to his injuries.

Finn telephoned Santa Clarita Station and provided the Watch Commander with the necessary information regarding the victims’ status, the suspected assailant and the incident scene. Within minutes of the incident’s occurrence, Sergeant Callahan arrived on scene as the first uniformed officer. He had been enroute to the high school as the assigned resource deputy when he was notified of the incident. Upon arriving, he located Finn and provided cover for the officers and staff. Over the next several minutes, Callahan’s knowledge of the school’s layout was instrumental in deploying the responding personnel. His relationships with the faculty also proved instrumental in the safe and methodical search of the classrooms, storage areas and offices.

Callahan’s unwavering courage and professionalism as he directed responding law enforcement officers throughout the campus in search of additional suspects and to rescue students who had sheltered themselves in classrooms, was invaluable.

Finn and Callahan remained on scene, even after the victims had been transported from the campus. Emotionally and physically exhausted, both men continued to scour the school for security video footage, witnesses, or any other piece of evidence that could assist in the subsequent investigation. Their selfless willingness to remain at the scene after experiencing such a tragic event was exemplary and a testament to their character. Both officers entered the school with the sole intention of confronting the suspect and saving the lives of as many students as possible. Armed only with their respective firearms, the officers charged into a situation in which they could have easily been outnumbered or overwhelmed by the suspect. They did not know the number of assailants, their location, nor what type of weapons they possessed and despite the lack of information, Finn pressed on with no safety equipment and no means of communicating with responding law enforcement officers.

Lomita Station

Sergeant Taylor M. Wells- (Meritorious Conduct- Gold)

Deputy Antonio Mendoza- (Meritorious Conduct- Gold)

Deputy Kyle A. Sullivan- (Meritorious Conduct- Gold)

Sergeant Keelan K. Chan- (Lifesaving Award)

Deputy Christopher R. Andrews- (Lifesaving Award)

Deputy Carlos A. Gonzalez- (Lifesaving Award)

On Dec. 8, 2019, Lomita Station desk personnel received a frantic call from a female juvenile advising that a stranger had entered her house, brandishing a firearm and a large kitchen knife, and had demanded to know the whereabouts of her father. She was able to flee to her room, call 9-1-1, and on the phone long enough to provide this information. The call eventually went silent and it was later learned the female teen had been brutally attacked.

As deputies responded, the female who placed the initial call was now incapacitated. Her teenage brother called the station and relayed information that his sister, mother, and he himself had been repeatedly stabbed. They had been able to disarm the suspect and get the knife away from him, but the gun couldn’t be found.

Sergeants Apostol, Chan and Wells and Deputies Andrews, Mendoza, Sullivan, Gonzalez and Robinson arrived and were unable to gain access through the front door. Chan and Robinson remained on the perimeter as the others went to the rear of the location. They saw trails of blood inside the house and that two victims were down with severe injuries. Since immediate entry was necessary, Wells retrieved a large rock and shattered the rear sliding glass door. Deputies quickly entered the residence and were met with a horrific scene. Blood spatter covered the floor and walls throughout the entire house.

As one victim lay helpless in the rear of the house, two others were hysterically screaming for help. The suspect, whom deputies believed was armed with a gun, was still hiding somewhere inside. With extreme risk to their own safety, deputies searched the residence while rescuing victims as they encountered them. The mother had been slashed numerous times and was bleeding profusely. Her teenage son had multiple stab wounds and his arm had been severed to the bone, resulting in immense bleeding. Deputies rendered medical aid, worked through the trauma and the panic, stemming the flow of blood as they reassured the victims, they would now be safe. Robinson and Chan were able to successfully overcome this horror and guide the two survivors to safety.

Deputies inside the house located the suspect hiding in a bedroom and ordered him to show his hands. When the suspect did not comply, Wells deployed his taser. The suspect was then taken into custody without further incident. Deputies later found the sister was lying in a bathtub with over twenty stab wounds. One wound to her arm was so severe, it had fractured the bone. Sullivan gathered her up and carried her outside to paramedics. Miraculously, her life was saved.

It was learned that the suspect was the ex-boyfriend of the victim’s sister, who resided in Northern California. The suspect, intent on revenge, had rode a train from Oakland to the Los Angeles area, obtained a large knife and a pistol earlier that day. He had been watching the family and had prepared a backpack with zip ties, duct tape, and several socks rolled into balls for use as gags. The suspect apparently intended to kill his ex-girlfriend’s family as revenge for the break-up.

Los Angeles County Fire personnel advised that the deputies’ lifesaving efforts undoubtedly prevented the death of the teenage girl and more than likely saved the lives of the other two victims. Deputies also took the suspect to Fire personnel for immediate medical treatment. The suspect had a large wound to his right leg which severed his femoral artery. Without immediate treatment, the suspect would have bled out within a short period of time and possibly died.

The effective conclusion of this incident is a credit to the entire team on the scene. The exceptional actions of the deputies who moved and placed themselves in life-threatening peril as they entered the location with knowledge that they would encounter an armed suspect are truly commendable.

South Los Angeles Station

Sergeant Patrick J. Hayes- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

Sergeant Mitchell R. Jones- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

Deputy Rene C. Diaz- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

Deputy Raymond Johnson- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

On Jan. 1, 2020, deputies responded to a vehicle fire at a residence in South Los Angeles. Upon arrival, deputies saw several vehicles in the driveway with one being on fire. The flame-engulfed vehicle was near the garage, which was attached to the residence. Sergeant Hayes and Deputy Diaz immediately checked the burning vehicle for victims. Once certain the vehicle was clear, they went to the front of the residence and knocked on the door. An elderly male opened the door in a panic because he believed his son was still inside the house, but he didn’t know where. Deputies observed the inside of the house was filled with smoke. They directed the homeowner to go across the street where he would be safe. Deputies then moved forward into the house to look for his son.

Additional assisting deputies arrived. Deputy Johnson immediately made entry into the house to assist Hayes and Diaz with locating the possible victim. The inside of the burning house was now filled with thickening smoke. Sergeant Jones arrived and also made entry into the burning house to aid in the search. He assisted the deputies and together the team searched the home until they could confirm the son was not inside the residence.

The actions of the deputies were truly an exemplary team effort. Their selfless bravery, tactical planning, and flawless execution resulted in no loss of life. The exceptional initiative of the deputies who moved and placed themselves in potential life-threatening peril as they entered the location is truly commendable.

Transit Services Bureau

Deputy Claudia Apolinar- (Medal of Valor and Purple Heart)

Deputy Emmanuel Perez-Perez- (Meritorious Conduct- Gold)

On Sept. 12, 2020, Deputies Apolinar and Perez-Perez were on patrol at the Metro Blue Line Station in the city of Compton. While sitting in their patrol vehicle, they were ambushed by an armed male suspect. During this unprovoked attack Apolinar was shot multiple times in the face, arms and hands, shattering her jaw and breaking both arms. Perez-Perez was also shot in the face, arms and hands. Both deputies sustained critical injuries.

Apolinar and Perez-Perez exited their vehicle and Apolinar observed profuse bleeding coming from Perez-Perez’s right arm. Despite being shot multiple times, Apolinar had the presence of mind to apply a tourniquet to Perez-Perez’s arm. Apolinar fought through the pain and shock of her injuries to request assistance via her radio. Both deputies assisted each other and ran for cover behind a nearby pillar. The pillar was not wide enough to provide cover for both deputies, so Apolinar remained exposed while scanning the scene for their assailant. Perez-Perez was unable to use his injured right arm but managed to retrieve his duty weapon using his left hand to defend himself and his partner. They both continued to protect and reassure each other that they would be alright while waiting for the arrival of assisting deputies.

Throughout this ordeal, the deputies’ actions were exceptional, courageous and nothing short of heroic. Despite the obvious threat and danger to their lives, they knowingly disregarded personal safety to protect the lives of the public and each other.

Lakewood Station

Deputy Roberto Solorio Jr.- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

Officer Nick Fernandez- (Meritorious Conduct- Silver)

Custody Assistant Terri L. McCray- (Purple Heart)

On Aug. 10, 2018, Custody Assistant McCray was assaulted inside the Lakewood Station jail by a male inmate, outweighing her by more than 100 pounds. McCray had been attempting to record the male inmate’s fingerprints when the inmate suddenly and viciously punched McCray in the face. The impact of the punch knocked her backward into the air and onto the floor. The inmate reached for her Taser, ripping her belt from her body in the process. As the inmate struggled to remove the Taser from its holster, McCray was able to stand and lunged for an emergency signaling device located on a nearby wall, alerting Lakewood station personnel. The inmate immediately grabbed McCray and dragged her into a nearby cell, closing the cell door behind them. This unprovoked assault was now a hostage situation.

The watch commander noticed a jail security camera capturing the incident of the assault and of the inmate standing above the fallen jailer. He ran toward the jail, calling for deputies to assist. Firearms are prohibited inside the jail, so they were quickly secured prior to entering the lock-up. They now discovered the suspect had created a hostage situation by arming himself with a Taser and then forcing the jailer into the cell.

The inmate grabbed McCray by her hair as she lay motionless on the floor. Her face was bleeding from lacerations sustained in the attack. The inmate was pointing a red laser light directly at deputies, who were unsure if the laser was attached to a firearm or a Taser. Recognizing the imminent peril and life-threatening situation, the watch commander handed a can of OC spray to the nearest unarmed deputy then retreated from the jail to arm himself with his firearm. As he reached the exit, he encountered Deputy Solorio in the process of securing his firearm. The watch commander directed Solorio to enter the jail with his firearm. Dodging the laser being pointed at them, Solorio issued several verbal commands to the inmate, ordering him to release the jailer and surrender peacefully. When the inmate failed to follow the orders, a second jailer opened the cell door. When additional commands were ignored, and recognizing McCray’s life was in immediate jeopardy, Solorio discharged his firearm, striking the inmate and causing him to release McCray.

Despite her injuries, McCray scrambled to safety and deputies closed the cell door behind her. Assisting deputies continued to hold the door closed as the injured inmate, still armed with the Taser, tried to push his way out of the cell. At the direction of the Watch Commander, another responding deputy deployed his own Taser, incapacitating the combative inmate. A crisis team entered the cell and disarmed the inmate and handcuffed him until medical aid could be administered.

McCray’s injuries were significant and required several surgeries. Her fighting will and determination to survive contributed to her own rescue. The entire episode lasted just 69 seconds, from the time of assault to the completed rescue. While several deputies assisted in the rescue, Solorio’s commitment, when confronted by circumstances beyond the normal course of his duties, delivering accurate fire under intense pressure, directly ended the threat to McCray.

Lomita Station

Deputy Bryanna M. Nunez- (Medal of Valor)

Deputy Demetrius A. Sanchez- (Medal of Valor)

On Sept. 26, 2022, at 1916 hours, desk personnel received a frantic call from a female who advised her house was on fire. In sheer panic, the female was heard screaming for her 91-year-old father.

Deputy Nuñez responded and as she neared the location, she noticed the residential fire was visible from several blocks away. Nuñez was met outside by the female caller who advised that her father was trapped inside. The attached garage was fully engulfed, and the fire had started to spread into the house. Without hesitation, Nuñez raced towards the house to save the elderly man’s life. Upon arriving at the doorway, she encountered thick smoke and was unable to see inside. She courageously ran inside the residence but was quickly overcome by the thick smoke that made it impossible to breathe. She gathered herself and found a towel to use as a face covering as she continued to search for the victim.

Sanchez arrived and quickly ran toward the burning house. He located Nuñez and learned there was a man trapped inside the burning house. Although he could not see through the acrid smoke, Sanchez still entered the doorway and began looking for the elderly man. Sanchez called for the victim in an attempt to locate him by the sound of his voice. At this point Nuñez once again entered the residence in a second attempt to save the elderly resident from the fire.

Sanchez located the victim on the living room couch. Nuñez found Sanchez and the victim via their yells. Both deputies picked up the victim, who couldn’t walk on his own, and carried him through the smoke-filled residence, past the now raging fire, and out to the driveway. The victim had suffered third degree burns to his arms and head and was subsequently transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment. Both deputies suffered smoke inhalation and were also transported to a hospital.

Body camera footage clearly showed the heroism displayed by both deputies. Their actions and determination to locate the victim and take him to safety were truly extraordinary. Unfortunately, the victim succumbed to his injuries the following day.

Family, friends and colleagues unable to attend, the award ceremony can be viewed via livestream at: https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesCountySheriffsDepartment/

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Friday, Jun 21, 2024
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Board of Supervisors Chair Lindsey Horvath have sent an open letter to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to continue funding the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations hand crews who currently help the Los Angeles County Fire Department tackle wildland fires.
Friday, Jun 21, 2024
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) reports that the fast moving Post Fire that broke out in Gorman on Saturday, June 15 around 1:47 p.m. has reached 15,690 acres and is now 61% contained. This latest CAL FIRE update was issued at 7:44 a.m. on Friday, June 21.
Friday, Jun 21, 2024
Thursday, Jun 20, 2024
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