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Police Files

Man hit by car on S Coast Hwy while allegedly intoxicated dies

William Edward Hemphill, 68, Laguna Beach, never recovered from his injuries after he fell onto S Coast Hwy while allegedly intoxicated and was hit by a car. Hemphill passed away on Friday, Jan 4 at Mission Hospital – Mission Viejo, according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

On Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on S Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes.

Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at the hospital and according to reports, never regained consciousness. 

In a previous interview, Sgt Cota said, “After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated.” According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle.”

According to LBPD, the driver of the vehicle did not display any signs or symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Animal Files

Trained falcon hired to deter seagulls at the Montage attacks hotel guest’s small dog in pool area

As reported in Stu News on Friday, Jan 4, on Sunday, Dec 30, at 2:45 p.m., at the 30800 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report of “a wild bird attacking people and dogs.” According to reports, the distressed reporting person “was yelling at security and stated she fell and scraped her knees and hands.” 

According to LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres, “The incident occurred at the Montage in the outdoor pool area. The ‘wild bird’ was actually a falcon hired by the Montage to deter seagulls from hanging around the resort. The professional falconer hired by the Montage released his falcon, and rather than focusing on the seagulls as the falcon is trained to do, the falcon instead attacked a Montage guest’s small dog in the pool area. The dog’s owner interceded in an attempt to protect her dog from the falcon, and she tripped and fell while trying to protect her dog. The female hotel guest sustained some kind of injury due to falling down.” 

Because the incident happened on private property and no crime was committed, it was a private civil matter between the injured guest, the Montage, and the contract falconer.


Police Files (Cont.)

Man arrested for robbery with $100,000 bail after allegedly stealing one can of beer from Circle K

On Tuesday, Jan 1, at 12:22 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Circle K, at 885 Glenneyre Street, in reference to a theft investigation. The subject was described as wearing a hat, a blue sweater, and grey sweatpants.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Michael Matekel took a single can of Coors beer and started to exit the store. The clerk approached Matekel and attempted to remove the beer from him. A struggle ensued and Matekel fled the store with the beer.”

 Officers arrived and detained Matekel in the area of S Coast Hwy and Anita Street. Matekel was positively identified as the suspect. 

“It was determined the elements of robbery were met. Matekel was subsequently taken into custody and transported to OC Jail,” Sgt Cota said.

Michael Hayes Matekel, 30, was arrested for felony robbery.

Bail was set at $100,000.

Animal Files

9 lives indeed, cat stuck in storm drain rescued

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 10:22 a.m., at the 1900 block at Catalina Street, LBPD and Animal Services received a call about a “cat stuck in the storm drain, trapped.” 

Public Works was called to respond and assist opening the storm drain. 

The cat’s owner was on scene as was Public Works.

Luckily, the cat had nine lives (eight now) and the incident has a holiday feel good ending. “The cat was released to the owner.” Purrfect!

Wild bird gone rogue attacks people & pets

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 2:45 p.m., at the 30800 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report of “a wild bird attacking people and dogs.” According to police reports, the reporting person stated she “fell and scraped her knees and hands while she tried to get the…” [presumably heck out of there].

Stay tuned…we will be following up with Animal Services for more details on both of these incidents, which we hope to publish next week. 

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Police Files

Stabbing in ASL parking lot reported, victim transported to hospital

On Sunday, Dec 30, at 9:12 p.m., at the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Road, LBPD received a report of an alleged stabbing that occurred at the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) parking lot. The victim, a 29-year male, was reportedly stabbed three times. 

Police Files York“The victim and suspect were familiar with one another from the past. The suspect was staying at the ASL and the victim was sleeping in the parking lot inside a sleeping blanket. At the time of the incident, he was wearing multiple layers of clothing to stay warm. The victim sustained several puncture wounds that were minor in nature,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The victim was transported to Mission Hospital - Mission Viejo, according to Sgt Cota, and has since been released.

“The knife was not located so there are no specific details about it. Charges are currently pending. The suspect was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon,” Sgt Cota added. 

The suspect was identified as Michael York Kelsey, 33.

Bail was set at $25,000.

Woman arrested for defrauding Surf & Sand on NYE

On Monday, Dec 31, at 10:15 pm, LBPD officers were dispatched to Surf & Sand Resort, at the 1500 block of S Coast Hwy, for a report of a woman unable to pay for her stay. The total amount due wsa $966.43, accordingly to LBPD records.

“The credit card on file declined. Officers arrived and conducted a thorough investigation, which concluded with Rosario De Bugarin, 50, of Laguna Beach, being arrested for violation of Defrauding an Innkeeper for over $400,” Sgt Cota said.

According to Sgt Cota, Bugarin has been contacted several times in 2018 for theft related incidents. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

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Police Files

Repeat offender caught with stolen steak from Ralphs

On Friday, Dec 21 at 4:28 p.m., at the 200 block at St. Ann’s Drive, an LBPD officer observed Reese Westenberger from the rear parking lot of the Woman’s Club holding a Duraflame log and a Christmas stocking. 

According to reports, Westenberger did not see the officer as he crouched behind a retaining wall and began to stuff the log into the stocking.

“The officer contacted Westenberger and also noticed a large bulge underneath his coat. The officer inquired about what he was concealing. Westenberger admitted that he had food items in his coat, as he pulled out a package of tortillas and three pounds of ribeye steak,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “He claimed a women gave it to him as a charitable gift although he had no bag. A review of video surveillance showed Westenberger was inside the supermarket [Ralphs] carrying the items and exiting the store.”

According to LBPD, the total loss was $61.21. Westenberger was not allowed in Ralphs anymore because he is a repeat offender of stealing items, Cota explained.

Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, was arrested and taken into custody for possession of stolen property and possession of narcotic paraphernalia, a hypodermic needle located in the pocket of his jacket.

Since May 1, 2018, over an 8-month period, Westenberger has been arrested eight times by LBPD, according to Stu News Laguna records. He has also been arrested two times by Newport Beach Police Department in that same time.

Bail was set at $500.

Local man struck by vehicle while allegedly intoxicated still in critical condition

As previously reported in Stu News, on Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on South Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes.

“After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated,” said Sgt Cota. According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle. Hemphill was not responsive at the scene and was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo.”

William Edward Hemphill, 68, suffered critical injuries, including a laceration to spleen, fracture to face, spine, pelvis, hip, and ribs.

“Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at hospital and was kept sedated,” Sgt Cota said. “As of Saturday, William Hemphill is still in critical condition in an induced coma.” 

According to police, the driver of the vehicle did not display any signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

Tree falls on Laguna streets, blocking intersection

On Friday, Dec 28, at 8:53 a.m., LBPD and LBFD received a call about a fallen tree branch blocking an intersection at Santa Cruz and Agate Street.

According to police logs, the tree hit wires on the way down, but the wires stayed intact. A neighbor tried to drag the tree out of the way but it was too big.

“Laguna Engine 2 was dispatched to a report of a tree branch that fell into the street and was blocking the intersection,” said LBFD Chief Api Weinert. “Upon our arrival we found a large tree branch in the intersection. LE2 crew moved tree branches off to the side of the street for the responsible party to dispose of.”


Police Files

Man in critical condition after staggering into traffic and being struck by vehicle

On Wednesday, Dec 26, at 7:21 p.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a vehicle versus a pedestrian on S Coast Hwy between Laguna Avenue and Legion Street, in the southbound lanes. 

“After speaking to witnesses and the driver involved in the collision, it was established the pedestrian, William Hemphill, was heavily intoxicated,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. According to witness reports, “Hemphill staggered into the roadway and was struck by a vehicle. Hemphill was not responsive at the scene and was transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo.”

Hemphill’s injuries were critical, including a laceration to his spleen and fractures to his face, spine, pelvis, hip, and ribs. 

“Hemphill was unconscious upon arrival at the hospital and was kept sedated,” Sgt Cota said. “The driver of the vehicle did not display any signs or symptoms of alcohol intoxication.”

The traffic collision investigation is still ongoing.

Three days prior, on Monday, Dec 23 at 6:46 p.m., at the 500 block of S Coast Hwy, William Hemphill, 68, was arrested for disorderly conducted related to alcohol. 

According to Sgt Cota, he was released once he was deemed sober.

“When someone is arrested for public intoxication, they remain in our detoxification cell until they are sober,” Sgt Cota said.

Parking Services Officer threatened in alleged robbery

Police Files DiotteOn Sunday, Dec 23 at 4:11 p.m., at the 200 block of Broadway Street, a Laguna Beach Parking Services Officer (PSO) broadcasted that “an aggressive male homeless subject approached her, demanded money, then verbally abused and intimated her when she refused to comply,” Sgt Cota said.

The PSO provided the male’s description and he was located in the parking lot of Broadway Liquor. 

“The male was identified as Matthew Diotte. After further interview of the PSO, it was determined the elements of attempted robbery were met,” Sgt Cota said.

Mathew David Diotte, 38, was subsequently arrested for attempted robbery and an outstanding warrant.

Bail was set at $110,000.

Grinch steals Christmas presents from car

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 12:27 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to a residence in the 100 block of St Ann’s Drive in reference to a theft from vehicle report. “Christmas presents that were left in the car are all gone,” reads the report.

According to Sgt Cota, several items were stolen from an unlocked vehicle. The loss totaled approximately $900. 

“A hat possibly belonging to the suspect was located inside the vehicle. It was collected and booked into evidence,” Sgt Cota said. “The suspect may have been recorded on video. This case will be submitted to the Investigations Division.

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Police Files (Cont.)

Dove release owner with 57 guns, practice bomb, and Nazi paraphernalia arraigned today

According to a press release issued by the OC District Attorney’s Office on Thursday, Mitchell Ralph Todd, 51, of Huntington Beach, is scheduled to be arraigned today, Friday, Dec 28, at 8:30 a.m., for felony criminal threats against a customer, a Laguna Beach resident. 

Todd is charged with one felony count of criminal threats. The maximum sentence is three years in state prison.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Todd was the owner of OC Doves and was hired by the victim to release the doves at his son’s funeral. Based upon a dispute on the day of the funeral involving scheduling and payment, Todd did not render his services nor was he paid. 

On Monday, Nov 10, Todd is accused of requesting payment from the victim. The next day, he is accused of leaving the victim a series of threatening text messages and voicemails and further demanding payment.

Police Files arsenal

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

Arsenal found at defendant’s house includes 57 firearms, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, and practice bomb

“Todd first threatened with court proceedings, but quickly appeared to become upset and further threatened to have specific people come to his work and to his relatives’ home until he was paid,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

In the last voicemail left for the victim, Todd is accused of recording the sound of a handgun slide being pulled back and released as if chambering a round.

During a search of Todd’s house, LBPD, who investigated the case, located 57 firearms, nearly 30,000 rounds of ammunition, over 100 magazines, a practice bomb, several body armors, swords, and Nazi paraphernalia.

Police Files Todd mugshot

Courtesy of LBPD

Todd will be arraigned today for alleged criminal threats against a customer, a Laguna local

LBPD arrested the defendant on an arrest warrant on Thursday, Dec 13. 

Deputy District Attorney Laila Nikaien, Special Prosecutions Unit, is the prosecutor on the case. The arraignment will take place at Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, 4601 Jamboree Road in Newport Beach.

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Police Files

Man allegedly pulls out his private parts, makes lewd suggestions and threatens Ralphs manager

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 4 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Ralphs grocery store, at 700 S Coast Hwy, in reference to a male subject allegedly causing a disturbance. The male was identified as 39-year-old Braden Bolton. 

Police Files BoltonAccording to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The manager advised Bolton to leave the store. Bolton refused, removed his male genitalia from his pants, and instructed the manager to ‘suck it.’” 

An independent witness told Bolton he was calling 9-1-1.

“Bolton then aggressively followed the witness and threatened his life,” Sgt Cota said. “Bolton was taken into custody for trespassing, indecent exposure, and terrorist threats.”

Bail was set at $51,000.

Man allegedly goes on spree cutting city X-mas lights

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 9:43 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Hennessey’s Tavern for a report of a male subject who was allegedly throwing condiments and creating a disturbance. Officers arrived in the area but did not locate the subject right away. 

Police Files Marston“A short time later, LBFD firefighters located a male, later identified as Craig Marston, who matched the description cutting the lights wrapped around the trees on Forest Avenue at Glenneyre Street,” Sgt Cota said. “Firefighters confronted Marston and he quickly tossed a box cutter on the ground.”

Officers arrived on scene and LBFD firefighters told the officers they had witnessed Marston, 47, cutting the lights with the box cutter.

“Officers noticed the lights did not work and noted the wires had been cut. A box cutter was found next to the tree,” Sgt Cota said. “Marston then spontaneously admitted to cutting the lights with the box cutter because he was upset. Officers arrested Marston for vandalism.”

Bail was set at $500.

Bike vs. car accident, rider transported to hospital

On Sunday, Dec 23, at 6:17 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a traffic collision with injuries, involving a vehicle versus a bicyclist. 

“The driver of the vehicle was making a left hand turn from Catalina Street onto Graceland Drive when the bicyclist, who did not have any lights on her bicycle, rode in front of the vehicle,” Sgt Cota said. “The bicyclist sustained no visible injuries, due to it being a slow speed crash, but was transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach due to a complaint of pain to her hip.”

 The driver of the vehicle was able to drive her vehicle from the scene.


Police Files

Man dies following self-inflicted vehicle fire at Aliso Beach

On Tuesday, Dec 18, at 9:09 a.m., at the 31100 block of S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach Emergency Services received an emergency call about a vehicle fire. Local residents, including those dining at nearby Lost Pier Café, also reported the sound of a large explosion.

Sadly, according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “This was self-initiated and so far appears to be an attempt of suicide. There was no bomb, but an excessive amount of gas was located, so it appears the sound of an explosion was the gas and fire igniting the vehicle.”

 The man involved in this tragic incident is described as a 56-year-old man from Lake Forest. Sgt Cota said no drugs were involved.

The man was pulled from his vehicle by emergency personnel after at least one local resident was unable to extricate him on their own due to the significant car damage sustained.

The man, who was still alive as of Thursday after being transported to Orange County Global Hospital in Santa Ana by Mercy Air, died this morning (Friday, Dec 21), according to a message from Sgt Cota.

Police Files Car

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Scott Brashier

A 56-year-old Lake Forest man who was saved from his burning vehicle by emergency personnel on Tuesday has died

LBFD Division Chief Api Weinert said the man sustained “Head to toe burns, all the way from the head to the toe. I would say the gamut from first, second and third-degree burns.”

Chief Weinert reiterated Sgt Cota’s statement that a bomb was not responsible for the vehicle fire.

“It was not a bomb. Although bystanders did report hearing a loud explosion,

anytime you have confined combustion, you can hear what sounds like an explosion or a pop,” LBFD Chief Weinert said.

The event was hard to fathom and to experience.

“Even though we see horrible accidents throughout our careers, it doesn’t mean they don’t accumulate over time or just that one accident that some of our members haven’t seen before won’t affect us,” Chief Weinert said. “We reached out to Trauma Intervention Program (TIP), not just for ourselves but for bystanders. They are an incredible organization. TIP made contact with the civilians, police officers, firefighters, and first responders that were there.”

Holidays are a particularly rough time of year for depression and death.

“A lot of people think we’re really slow, but we’re actually really busy,” Chief Weinert said. “The holidays can be an intense time for people.”

Suicide prevention help is available. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Orange County, you may also visit this site.

Know the warning signs. Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline. Behavior includes:

--Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

--Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

--Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

--Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

--Talking about being a burden to others

--Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

--Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

--Sleeping too little or too much

--Withdrawing or isolating themselves

--Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

--Extreme mood swings

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Police Files (Cont.)

Man hits three parked cars, light pole and fire hydrant in cut & rescue in the canyon, DUI suspected

On Tuesday, Dec 18, at 3:55 a.m., LBPD officers responded to a traffic collision on Laguna Canyon Road at Big Bend. The traffic collision was a single vehicle rollover, cut and rescue, with the driver trapped in the vehicle. 

“Officers arrived on scene and attempted to pull the driver, later identified as Anaheim resident Tyler Tripp, from the vehicle, but the damage was too extensive. LBFD arrived on scene and began rescue efforts to extricate Tripp from the vehicle,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

The outbound lane was closed for approximately one hour, but due to the early morning hour, traffic was not a factor. 

“Tripp was eventually rescued from the vehicle and transported to Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo. Prior to being transported, Tripp submitted to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening test and his BAC exceeded .08 percent,” Sgt Cota said. “Tripp was ultimately arrested for DUI.” 

The collision involved Tripp’s vehicle, three parked vehicles, a light pole, and a fire hydrant, according to Sgt Cota. Edison and the Water Department arrived on scene to make the necessary repairs. Fortunately, the fire hydrant capped itself upon being sheared off and no flooding or water damage occurred as a result of the collision. 

Tripp was released from the hospital later in the day after receiving medical treatment.

Tyler Mitchell Tripp, 23, of Anaheim was arrested on suspicion of DUI, his first.

Bail was set at $2,500.

Man asleep at the wheel of idling car wakes up to a DUI arrest, charges for cocaine and loaded Glock 

On Sunday, Dec 16, at 8:34 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the Laguna Drug parking lot, at 239 Broadway St, to check on the welfare of a man reportedly passed out inside of a black Toyota RAV 4. 

According to police reports, the man was “slumped over the wheel and the vehicle [was] idling.” The reporting person knocked on the window and the subject didn’t respond.

“The male was identified as Mission Viejo resident Charles Furis. It was determined he was under the influence of alcohol and a stimulant,” Sgt Cota said. “He was subsequently arrested for DUI. A loaded Glock handgun and cocaine were located inside the vehicle.” 

Charles Alexander Furis, 31, Mission Viejo, was arrested on suspicion of DUI, possession of a narcotic controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded gun. According to Sgt Cota, booking information shows he is employed by Whittier Hospital doing lab work.

Bail was set at $3,500.

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Police Files

Email bomb threat hits North Laguna resident

On Thursday, Dec 13, at 11:43 a.m., at the 1000 block of N Coast Hwy, a person that lives in the same building as the Guitar Shoppe reported receiving an email bomb threat sent to her personal email, extorting money.

According to police reports, she said, “They are trying to extort money from [me] – if the subject does not receive the money, he is going to blow up the building.”

The woman reported that she didn’t believe the email was legitimate but wanted to report it just in case. The woman rents an apartment at the location and works out of her home.

The email read, “Explosive device petrol has been carried into your building. If any unusual activity is noticed my mercenary will activate the bomb.”

The person demanded $20,000 by the end of the day or the building would be blown up. 

The threat also stated, “We are not terrorist [sic] and do not assume responsibility of other explosives at other buildings. A mercenary is in the area watching. He will be called off when the payment is made in full.”

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “This was the day people and places all over the US were receiving bomb threats. This was a scam and sent to a personal email with no direct affiliation or threat to the specific business.

Kidnapping threat by caller from Mexico thwarted

On Friday, Dec 14, at 12:48 p.m., at the 1200 block of Park Ave, a Laguna Beach resident received a phone call from a Mexico based phone number claiming her child was kidnapped and a demand for money was made. 

“The reporting party stated she could hear a child crying in the background but knew the child’s voice did not sound like her children’s voices,” Sgt Cota said. “SRO Corporal Ashton was able to confirm that the reporting party’s kids were actively in school: Thurston and TOW.”

Sgt Cota explained that this phone call was a scam consistent to the recent ones that have been ongoing in our country. LBPD investigations was advised of the incident and a report was taken.

As reported in Police Files last spring, for over three consecutive weeks spanning from the end of April to mid-May, several women in Laguna were targeted in a virtual kidnapping scam, a billion-dollar crime that continues to stalk the country. 

“If anybody receives a telephone call or email that they find suspicious in the least, please call the police department and we will verify the information you are receiving or the person that is calling you,” said Sgt Cota. “Don’t give credit card information, don’t give your social security number, and if at any point, you don’t recognize the number, the person or the company contacting you, call us to verify they are legit. One of our staff will personally call that number to make sure they are who they say they are.”

In most cases, the best course of action is to hang up the phone and call 9-1-1. For more tips and information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 497-0701 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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