|Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Date of Birth: June 5, 1961
Date Appointed: February 1, 1984
End of Watch: August 31, 2001
|Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian, a 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, was killed as he responded to a shootout in Stevenson Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley on Friday, Aug. 31, after a man opened fire on federal and local officials trying to serve a search warrant.
Charged in the incident was a former Arcadia police officer, James Allen Beck, with weapons violations and impersonating a U.S. marshal. Beck, a twice-convicted felon, allegedly shot Kuredjian from the second floor of his home as the deputy ducked for cover behind a nearby car when violence erupted.
Kuredjian, 40, was hit in the head by a single bullet, officials reported. Several minutes passed before other law enforcement personnel could pull him to safety because Beck continued to fire at them.
Beck died after tear gas canisters ignited the home causing it to become a fiery tomb. During earlier telephone negotiations following the initial barrage of gunfire, he apologized for shooting the deputy.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich told the estimated 4,000-person crowd at Kuredjian's funeral in Glendale that "he lived and died a true hero." Officers stood shoulder to shoulder on the street and sidewalk, when St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church was filled, united in their grief for a fallen comrade.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke of Kuredjian, saying that Santa Clarita loved the motorcycle officer. "Death is not the final word in the life of Hagop 'Jake' Kuredjian. We're going to cry a little more," Baca continued, his voice breaking. "It's not a sign of weakness, it's what every family does when it has lost one it loves."
Gov. Gray Davis told mourners, "For him being a deputy sheriff was not just a job, it was a calling." Later as he presented Anahid Kuredjian with the state flag that had been lowered to half-staff over the capitol the day of her son's death, he told her, "Jake was a soldier of decency, every morning putting a badge on his uniform and his life on the line. There is no greater calling than to be of service to another human being.
"There is no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend. Our debt will be never-ending. There are not words to summon up our feeling of gratitude."
Antonovich told the audience, "For 17 years, he devoted his life to law enforcement and the well-being of the citizens of Los Angeles County."
Kuredjian's commander at the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's station, Capt. Don Rodriguez, remembered him as a man with a smile for everyone. "You'll always be in our hearts and minds - our brother, our friend."
Calling Kuredjian a servant who gave his life to keep others safe, Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian, from the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church of America, said "He always chose to be part of the solution . . . to make our world a better place."
As Raffi Kuredjian eulogized his brother he said, "I wish I could stand before you here today and tell you that I'm here to celebrate my brother's life. I'll do that for the rest of my life. Today I am here because I am mourning his untimely murder."
He asked the mourners not to idealize or enlarge his brother in death. "He should simply be remembered as a good man who saw wrong and tried to right it. He saw suffering and tried to heal it. He saw injustice and tried to stop it."
Capt. Rodriguez's concluded the ceremony, his voice shaking with emotion, as he recalled his fallen officer, "Godspeed 60 Mary 2" referring to the deputy's radio name. "Godspeed, our brother, our friend."
The service ended with the solemn notes of bagpipes and taps, the touching picture of a grieving mother kissing a dove before releasing it to the skies and a riderless police motorcycle, flowers on its footrests.
Kuredjian, a native of Aleppo, Syria, became a U.S. citizen in 1982 after he immigrated to Michigan with his mother and two brothers. His father died in 1975 during violence in Lebanon. The deputy often worked as an Armenian interpreter for the Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI.
The Gold Meritorious Conduct Medal was presented to Kuredjian in 1989 for rescuing a woman from a cliff in Malibu.
Kuredjian is survived by his fiancée, Mary Theresa Richardson; mother, Anahid Kuredjian of Novi, Michigan; and brothers, Garo and Raffi. Garo Kuredjian is a deputy with the Ventura Co. Sheriff's Dept.
The Sheriff's Relief Foundation has established a fund in Deputy Kuredjian's name. Checks may be sent to: Sheriff's Relief Foundation, Fund #273, 11515 Colima Road, Bldg. B, Whittier, CA 90604.
Community Honors Fallen Soldier
As reported by KHTS News
Army Specialist Rudy A. Acosta
On Thursday, the Santa Clarita community paid its respects to Army Specialist Rudy A. Acosta, who was killed in Afghanistan on March 19. He was 19 years old. The day's events included a flag raising and prayer gathering at Santa Clarita Baptist Church at 8 a.m. followed by a cross-town funeral procession. The interment was held at Eternal Valley Memorial Park.
PFC Jake William Suter
As reported by KHTS News
The Stevenson Ranch community was shocked over the weekend as family and friends of Pfc. Jake Suter received the news of his death on Saturday morning. Suter was killed in Afghanistan last week while serving in the Marine Corps.
Friends remember Suter for being very passionate. Ray Carlson, Suter’s bishop at his church, remembers him riding his bike four miles just to get to church. Suter was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and knew many members of the church’s congregation.
Carlson remembers that Suter was always passionate about the military and serving in the Marine Corps.
“He was excited to serve his country, he was very proud,” said Carlson. “I remember him coming to church in his dress uniform, he was proud to wear the uniform and to represent the United States.”
Suter played for West Ranch High School’s football team from his freshman through junior years. He was also in the Boy Scouts and reached the rank of Life Scout, which is just below Eagle Scout.
History was also one of Suter’s passions. He had been studying Afghanistan and its’ people and history before he was deployed.
Brian Walters knew Suter for seven years and was his team leader at church. Walters described Suter as being very passionate young man and very excited to go to Afghanistan.
“He did quite a bit of study on the Afghani people, he had come to love them before he even got there,” said Walters. “For him, it was about bringing peace to that region, and to those people more than anything else, for that he was very excited”
A candlelight vigil will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on Bates Place in Stevenson Ranch. Everyone is encouraged to attend and bring U.S. flags. Mourners are asked to park on Kavenaugh Lane.
Suter’s parents traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to escort their son’s remains home. Funeral arrangements have not been scheduled.
SPC Ian Gelig
Written by Jeremiah McDanie
Wednesday, 03 March 2010
An Army Paratrooper from Stevenson Ranch was killed in southern Afghanistan on Monday.
Spc. Ian Gelig, 25, died when his patrol unit was hit by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to information from the Department of Defense.
Gelig, an 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper, had been with the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team since August 2009.
After enlisting in 2006, Gelig was deployed to Kuwait for 15 months, where he served with the 126th Transportation Company.
"Gelig will always be with us," said Pvt. Antonio Santos, a paratrooper from Alpha Company. "From the day you arrived you touched everyone's heart. You made us laugh, you made us smile, and you kept us from falling apart."
"Gelig was a good friend and great person," said Spc. David Tryon, a fellow Paratrooper from Alpha Company. "He was always there for you when you needed something. He will be deeply missed by everyone in this unit, for a piece of us went with him."
According to Hart High Principal Collyn Nielsen, Gelig graduated for the school in 2002. He is survived by his parents, Tim and Delia Gelig, and his two sisters, Vanessa and Liana Gelig.
Debbie Duke, Co-President of Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons, a group which supports families of service members, says that they will be contacting the family to provide support.
Duke says Gelig's death marks the 11th death of a service member from the Santa Clarita area since the Global War on Terrorism started in 2002.
Update: Gelig was posthumously promoted to Sergeant.
The Global War on Terrorism, which includes Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, has claimed the lives of 4,074 service men and women.
Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons also presents a Gold Star banner to families within Santa Clarita who have lost a son or daughter while serving in the military. The Gold Star banner represents the honor and sacrifice made by the fallen hero.
According to Duke there are currently more than 700 men and women from the Santa Clarita Valley connected to the military. She says that this number only represents recent services and does not reflect the number of veterans living in the Santa Clarita.
Blue Star Mothers is a nationwide organization and has been helping families of service members since 1942.
A memorial in Gelig's honor will be held in Afghanistan.