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Incident Reports

Tuesday, Sept 18

Laguna Canyon Road | 600 Block | Bench Warrant

11:28 p.m. Tri Boomer Sov, 27, San Diego, was arrested on a bench warrant for trespassing. Bail was set at $1,000.

Hillcrest Drive | 700 Block | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

9:11 p.m. Brittany Ann Honingford, 27, Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and being in possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

N Coast Hwy & Boat Canyon Drive | Possession of a Narcotic Controlled Substance

10:07 a.m. Gina Michelle Sanfellipo, 43, Valley Center, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy & Ruby Street | DUI

12:43 a.m. A 27-year-old Costa Mesa woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy | 500 Block | Found Property – Possible Drugs

9:11 a.m. A man reported finding a baggie with a good amount of white powder in it. He found the baggie in the parking lot near the storage and garbage bins.

Monday, Sept 17

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

11:20 p.m. A 25-year-old Los Angeles man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 200 Block | Parole Violation

11:02 p.m. Victor Kuzma Stepanenko, 49, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a parole violation. No bail was set.

Locust Street & Monterey Drive | Bench Warrants

6:28 p.m. Joseph Charles Group, 52, Santa Ana, was arrested for a parole violation. LBPD Officers responded to Locust Street and Monterey Drive to conduct an area search for a male subject causing a disturbance. According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “The male was reportedly yelling at a friend about owing him money. Officers arrived on scene and contacted Santa Ana resident Joseph Group. A records check was conducted on Group. The male had an outstanding no bail parole violation warrant.” He was arrested and transported to OCJ. No bail was set.

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Petty Theft

4:41 p.m. Nicholas Dylan Lilley, 26, Los Angeles, was arrested for petty theft for allegedly stealing two bottles of vodka. Bail was set at $500. 

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

2:49 p.m. A 59-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Ocean Ave | 200 Block | Suspicious Person

1:14 p.m. An Asian male in a black karate type suit wearing sunglasses was reportedly seen with a long sword in a case that he was holding. According to police reports, the reporting person said, “He is standing near the exit off of Ocean Ave and looks out of place.” The caller reported that the sword was “approximately 7 inches long.” LBPD checked out the situation and the male in the “black karate type suit” with the sword was a sushi chef at a local restaurant.

Sunday, Sept 16

N Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

11:38 p.m. Alannah Renea Fields, 22, Orange, was arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2600 Block | Animal Call

3:44 p.m. A man was entering the Dog Park with his pet dog and was bitten by a visiting pit bull from San Clemente. The report was faxed to Coastal Animal Services. 

Dorn Court | 3000 Block | Domestic Violence – Spousal Abuse and Elder Abuse

At 7:16 p.m. Damon Harold Roberts, 59, Laguna Beach, was arrested for domestic violence. Bail was set at $10,000.

Myrtle Street | 100 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher, Suspended License, Suspended License

7:32 p.m. A 27-year-old Murrieta man was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500), driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500), and driving on a suspended license (bail was set at $500).

Laguna Canyon Road | 900 Block | DUI

1 a.m. A 31-year-old Tustin man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy & Brooks Street| Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol

12:35 a.m. A 32-year-old San Diego man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Police Files

Residents call police on man hitting cars

Police Files LeisbOn Tuesday, Sept 18, at 7:35 a.m., an LBPD officer was flagged down in the area of Cliff Drive and Aster Street by several citizens reporting that a man, later identified as James Eugene Leis, was running up and down the street hitting cars. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “He was located a short time later walking down the middle of the highway. When the officer tried to speak to him he picked up a large rock and failed to comply with the officer’s orders. Three other officers responded. Leis, being greatly outnumbered, decided to comply.”

Leis, 28, of Laguna Beach, was detained and his probation officer was contacted who placed a “flash hold” warrant on him. He was arrested and transported to Orange County Jail.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Since May 1, 2018, Leis has been arrested six times by LBPD.

No bail was set.

Main Beach assault report leads to pills arrest

On Monday, Sept 17, at 4:04 p.m., at the 100 block of S Coast Hwy, LBPD officers responded to the Main Beach area in reference to an assault report. Officers contacted Shane Hardin, who was one of the involved parties, and upon a consensual search located two white capsule shaped pills in his right front pocket.

“Hardin stated the pills were Hydrocodone and he had obtained them through a friend without a prescription. Additionally, Hardin knew he was supposed to have a prescription in order to possess and consume them,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Cota said. “Based on Hardin being in possession of the Hydrocodone without a prescription, LBPD issued Hardin a misdemeanor citation for Possession of a Controlled Substance.” 

Hardin signed the citation in LBPD’s presence and was released at the scene on his written promise to appear. Officers met with the other party, who alleged Hardin threw water at him. He indicated he was not desirous of prosecution and only wanted Hardin advised not to further disturb him.

Shane Christopher Hardin, 43, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for being in possession of a narcotic controlled substance.

LBPD gives a warm welcome to three new employees

Police Files James

Courtesy of LBPD

Jailer Devon James

LBPD gives their three newest employees a warm welcome – Jailer Devon James, Officer James Denevan, and Officer Kylan Peterson – and would like the community to welcome them too, as a part of America’s finest in blue.

James previously worked for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.

He grew up in Long Beach, and attended Millikan High School, where he played basketball. 

An avid sports fan, James enjoys watching basketball, baseball, and football, actually he enjoys all sports.

Police Files Peterson

Courtesy of LBPD

Officer Kylan Peterson

Officer Kylan Peterson is also a new asset to LBPD. Peterson is from Downey, and graduated from St John Bosco High School in Bellflower. He attended Long Beach City College and Cal State Dominguez and received his B.S. degree in Business.

Peterson loves all sports, including Fantasy Football and dirt biking. He is married to Meagan Kylan and has a 1.5-year-old baby boy named Carter.

Police Files Denevan

Photo courtesy of LBPD

Officer James Denevan

Officer James Denevan is also a welcome addition. Denevan grew up in Cypress where he graduated from Cypress High School. He then attended Cal State Long Beach and received his B.A. in Criminal Justice.

In his spare time, Denevan likes to ride dirt bikes. Denevan is happy to be in Laguna Beach. 

Incident Reports

Saturday, Sept 15

Glenneyre Street | 2400 Block | DUI

11:56 p.m. A 21-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

S Coast Hwy | 31800 Block | Bench Warrant

3:28 p.m. Kerry Ladwayne Hawkins, 56, San Clemente, was arrested for a bench warrant as a felony fugitive from the law.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2900 Block | DUI

3:08 a.m. A 25-year-old Foothill Ranch man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2200 Block | DUI

1:20 a.m. A 35-year-old Anaheim woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Laguna Canyon Road | 600 Block | DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

1:08 a.m. A 23-year-old Cerritos woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI (bail was set at $2,500) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $2,500).

Friday, Sept 14

Brooks Street & S Coast Hwy | DUI

11:29 p.m. A 36-year-old Irvine woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

10:56 p.m. Vincent Lombardi Hassell, 45, Greenville, WI, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $2,500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

10:56 p.m. Randy Dee Heffley, 52, Laguna Beach was arrested for a bench warrant. According to Jordan Villwock, LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator, “An officer conducted an occupied vehicle check in the Broadway lot, 226 Broadway Street. The occupants, Vincent Hassell and Randy Heffley, were [reportedly] seen snorting methamphetamine inside of the vehicle. Both subjects had active warrants for their arrest. Heffley was also charged with possession of methamphetamine.” Bail was set at $150,500.

Forest Ave | 200 Block | Shoplifting

8:36 p.m. Cari Jo Rousselle, 46, North Las Vegas, was arrested for shoplifting. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway Street | 200 Block | Bench Warrant

2:56 p.m. Donald Douglas Kramer, 47, Laguna Beach, was arrested for a bench warrant. Bail was set at $10,000.

Oak Street & S Coast Hwy | DUI with One Prior, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

1:20 a.m. Patrick Thomas Hilton, San Diego, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior (bail was set at $10,000) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $10,000).

Katella Street | 900 Block | Bench Warrants

12:30 p.m. Leo J Montegut 57, New York, NY, was arrested for bench warrants on multiple counts of felony forgery and fraud. “LBPD detectives attempted to locate Leo Montegut who had an outstanding FBI warrant for forgery and fraud,” said Jordan Villwock, LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator. “Montegut was located at his residence on Katella Street and placed under arrest. Montegut was later transported to Orange County Jail.” No bail was set.

Montage Resort Drive & S Coast Hwy | DUI

1:02 a.m. A 50-year-old Laguna Niguel man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Thursday, Sept 13

Glenneyre Street | 800 Block | Trespassing 

1:19 p.m. Craig William Dorrell, 37, Laguna Beach, was arrested for trespassing. Bail was set at $500.

Cliff Drive | 300 Block | Bench Warrant, Vandalism

9:15 a.m. Richard Thomas Morton, 22, Miami, AZ, was arrested for vandalism and a felony warrant. According to Jordan Villwock, LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator, “LBPD officers responded to the Gazebo at 365 Cliff Drive in reference to a male subject cutting the wood structure of the Gazebo with a pocket knife. Officers contacted Richard Morton, who was positively identified as the suspect. A record check of Morton revealed an outstanding warrant. Morton was placed under arrest for vandalism and his outstanding warrant. He was later transported to Orange County Jail.” Bail was set at $20,500.

Police Files

Scuba diver found face down in the water at Crescent Bay Beach, unresponsive during rescue efforts

On Friday, Sept 14, at 8:04 a.m., LB Lifeguards received a 911 call about a single scuba diver face down in the water at Crescent Bay Beach. The patrol unit was on scene in three minutes at 8:07 a.m., according to LB Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond. 

“A single scuba diver was pulled out by a good Samaritan, an adult male with scuba equipment. Lifeguards performed CPR on scene at Crescent Bay Beach, but he was unresponsive,” Capt Bond said.

The adult male was then taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo by paramedics. His condition is unknown. 

The surf has been rough and there have been a number of drowning events in the last couple of weeks. Capt Bond said the surf conditions have been pretty significant with 3 to 5 feet swells and yellow flag conditions.

Important safety tips for people who want to go out into the ocean: learn to swim; swim by an open lifeguard tower; swim with a buddy; always check with  the tower lifeguard to get up-to-date conditions; learn about rip current safety; and always go into the water feet first, Capt Bond said.

For this past weekend, on Saturday, Sept 15 and Sunday, Sept 16, there were 274 rescues, 42 medical aids, 4,454 public contacts, and 2,425 prevents. 

This summer, from June 23 to Labor Day, Marine Safety had 5,265 rescues, made 323,861 public contacts, and prevented 166,558 beachgoers.

Local man nabbed for meth in his buttocks, according to LBPD

On Saturday, Sept 15, at 7:09 p.m., an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven near Calliope Street and S Coast Hwy. The officer advised the vehicle continued travelling southbound and requested an additional unit respond.

Police Files Ronald Herndon“The officer saw Herndon reaching around inside the vehicle. The vehicle yielded in front of the Surf and Sand,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “Herndon repeatedly reached towards his shorts’ pockets and was taken out of the vehicle and detained in handcuffs. A probation search of his person and vehicle was conducted. Herndon was arrested for possession of controlled paraphernalia.”

Prior to entering jail, Herndon reportedly advised he had methamphetamine hidden between his buttocks. Further investigation revealed he was selling methamphetamine, according to Villwock.

Ronald Gene Herndon, 53, of Laguna Beach, was also charged with felony transport of a controlled substance and felony possession of a controlled substance for sale. Orange County Probation was contacted and he was placed on a probation hold.

Man having heart attack at Shaw’s Cove Beach saved by LBPD officers’ quick aid

On Sunday, Sept 16, at 2:49 p.m., “LBPD officer Tommy McGuire was dispatched along with LBFD to a medical aid for a heart attack on the stairs at Shaw’s Cove,” said LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock. “Beach Patrol Officer Tanner Flagstad was also in the area and responded as well. Both officer McGuire and BPO Flagstad arrived on scene first and began CPR along with using an AED, which provided two shocks before fire arrived on scene and provided life-saving treatment.”

Police Files Tommy McGuire

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of LBPD

LBPD Officer Tommy McGuire (pictured here) and LBPD Beach Patrol Officer Tanner Flagstad saved the life of a man having a heart attack at Shaw’s Cove

According to Villwock, LBFD supplied Advanced Life Support and transported the 75-year old man to a local area hospital. When he arrived at the hospital, he was breathing on his own and talking to first responders. 

“LBFD Fire Captain/Paramedic Robert Abijay attributed the life-saving actions to what officer McGuire and BPO Flagstad did with early CPR and AED usage,” said Villwock.

LBPD later learned that the 75-year-old man they saved at Shaw’s Cove was celebrating his granddaughter’s engagement with family at the beach at the time of his heart attack and rescue. Hopefully, thanks to LBPD heroics, he will soon be able to continue the celebration.

Teens rescued from rough surf at Sleepy Hollow with help from a good Samaritan surfer and LB lifeguards 

On Friday, Sept 14, at 3:59 p.m., at the 600 block of Sleepy Hollow Lane, Laguna Beach Emergency Services, including Marine Safety, received a 911 call reporting three subjects in the water at Sleepy Hollow Beach.

 The reporting party said they were approximately 100 feet offshore at Sleepy Hollow Beach. 

According to LB Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, “Our tower lifeguard from Main Beach responded, as well as two of our patrol units. At 4:01 p.m., the tower lifeguard made contact with the group. Since there was more than one person we had our patrol units back him up. We were able to rescue the three people out of the water by 4:03 p.m.”

Capt Bond said two of the three patients were transported to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach. One was not a medical aid, but the other two were transported. 

“The patient information is not known at this time,” Capt Bond said.

Police Files Scott

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Scott Brashier

Teens from Santa Ana needed rescued at Sleepy Hollow Beach

Eye witness Brynne Van Putten, who is a local, described the scene as she was walking her dog down the steps at Laguna Surf at the time of the incident.

“The surf was pretty rough that day, and there was a kid about 30 yards out in the water, and he was yelling. I looked out and there was a pod of seven bottle-nosed dolphins near him. I thought he was yelling because of the dolphins, that he was excited about them,” Van Putten said. “And his friends were running back and forth on the beach and all these guys, his friends were about 16 or 17-years-old. I kind of realized that he wasn’t yelljng about the dolphins, he was drowning.”

At the beach, she saw a group of about 10 girls, approximately 16-years-old, and a few people scattered around the beach. She noticed that there were only two surfers in the water. 

 “His friend was running up and down the beach yelling does anybody know how to swim?” Van Putten said. “One of his friends started to swim out in the water and he got in trouble. He tried to go back in, but he couldn’t reach him. I started to look around to see if there was a boogie board or a surfboard because the waves were so big, there was obviously a riptide, and there was just so much pull that I didn’t feel comfortable to go in to swim to him.”

Police Files Van Putten

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Brynne Van Putten

Santa Ana teens needed help in rough surf on Friday, good Samaritan surfer helps save the day

She said she was trying to call the lifeguards, but that they were all at Main Beach. 

“Then this other kid grabbed somebody’s boogieboard, it was obvious they were friends and tried to go in. He wasn’t able to do anything. He fell flat on his face,” Van Putten said. “Then it was obvious that somebody had gotten to the lifeguards because you could all their sirens going and the police sirens.”

But in the meantime, this kid was starting to go down, she said.

“And this young surfer, Michael, he just went running on in and he went out there, out to the guy. The kid went under twice,” Van Putten said. “Then Michael got to him and supported him on his board.” 

At this point the lifeguards came running down, Van Putten said. As another friend staggered out of the surf, his friends went out to the white water and grabbed him. He just collapsed on the beach.

“Then all the firefighters, paramedics, beach patrol, and police department got down there and the two lifeguards went running out into the water,” Van Putten said. “They went out to where Michael was and then all three of them got the kid in and started working on both of the kids.”

One of the kids started getting sick and they were put on stretchers and taken to the hospital. She said the kids were all from Santa Ana and told her that the boy that almost drowned got swept all the way down from Main Beach.

“If Michael hadn’t gotten to that kid when he did, he definitely would have drowned or he definitely would have been under,” Van Putten said.

The good Samaritan, surfer Michael Cipolletti, from Laguna Niguel, was the true hero, Van Putten added.

Man steals Mike’s Hard Lemonade from Ralphs

On Wednesday, Sept at 2:29 p.m., LBPD officers responded to Ralphs at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy in reference to a petty theft of alcohol. 

“LBPD officers contacted Brian Ensley who was still in possession of a Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Four Loco which he had stolen from Ralphs,” said Jordan Villwock,

LBPD Emergency Operations Coordinator. “Ralphs was desirous of prosecution and positively identified by an infield show-up.” 

According to reports, Ensley took off from Ralphs on his skateboard with the loot d’liquor stashed in his black backpack. According to police records, an officer said, “I located a strawberry Mike’s Lemonade with the subject and the can is still kinda cold.” The other chilled swill located on his person was a Hurricane Malt.

Brian Scott Ensley, 40, of Laguna Beach, was placed under arrest for petty theft and felony violation of probation.

No bail was set.

Police Files

Laguna Emergency Services Teams on scene in two minutes to help drowning victim at Woods Cove

On Tuesday, Sept 11, Marine Safety Dispatch received a 911 call at 10:33 a.m. for a possible swimmer in distress at the north end of Woods Cove.

“Laguna Beach Lifeguards, LBPD, and LBFD responded and were on scene within two minutes and witnessed a male approximately 40 yards off shore floating face down in the water,” said Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond. He was in between rocks.

Lifeguards made contact with the victim, who was unconscious and unresponsive, and performed CPR to him along with LBFD. He was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. Further information about the man is unavailable.

“No one knows exactly what happened and an update hasn’t been provided,” Capt Bond said. “But it’s a reminder to always swim in front of an open lifeguard stand, swim with a buddy, and to swim within your ability.”

The quick response could be a difference maker in the victim’s outcome. Hopefully he is on the mend.

 “We had a unit on patrol of the area and they were able to get on scene within two minutes,” Capt Bond said.

LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said the victim was still alive but in grave condition on Tuesday afternoon.

According to call records, a witness who was in her vacation rental at the time of the accident could hear and see the victim yelling out for help. She said he was approximately 20 yards out. A second person also called 911 from Diamond Street and Ocean Way to help.

There was 2-4 foot surf with yellow flag conditions that day according to Capt Bond.

Detox technician seemingly needs to detox

On Sunday, at 1:52 p.m., an officer conducted a traffic enforcement stop and contacted the driver and Tustin resident, Diana Ruth Viguri, 46.

Viguri stated that she is a detox technician at a residential drug treatment on Park Avenue and consented to a search of her vehicle. During the search, methamphetamine was located inside her purse and she was taken into custody. 

Once in custody, according to Sgt Cota, she told the Jailer she was concealing a baggie of methamphetamine in her private areas. Viguri was immediately transported to the hospital for a medical clearance and the removal of the methamphetamine. 

While on the way in the vehicle, she reportedly slipped off a handcuff from her wrist and retrieved the baggie and swallowed it.

Bail was set at $1,000.

Repeat offenders...offend repeatedly

On Sunday, Sept 9, at 3:22 p.m. at the 700 block of S Coast Hwy, a suspect took an unknown item from a store. The suspect allegedly hid the item under a jacket that he was carrying. Staff was unable to detain him but LBPD was. Reese Mitchel Westenberger, 53, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for petty theft and trespassing.

Bail was set at $1,000.

Since May 1, in a little over a four-month period, Westenberger has been arrested 6 times by LBPD according to Stu News Laguna records. He has also been arrested 2 times by Newport Beach Police Department in that same time.

On Monday, Sept 10, at 2:38 a.m., Eric Lawrence McGuffick, 53, of San Clemente, was arrested on a bench warrant at Ocean Ave & S Coast Hwy.

Bail was set at $2,500.

According to Stu News Laguna records, Since May 1, McGuffick has been arrested 5 times by LBPD.

Police Files

Arson arrest made following altercation and fire at The Inn at Laguna Beach

On Friday, Sept 7, at 6:41 a.m., LBPD officers responded to The Inn at Laguna in reference to a physical fight. 

Police Files Sterling“Officers located the suspect Jermaine Sterling at the Mobil Gas station who matched the description. Five minutes after the altercation, LBPD and fire responded to The Inn at Laguna for a dumpster fire,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “North Coast Highway between Broadway Street and Aster Street needed to be closed down shortly for emergency equipment to contain the fire.”

Smoke was reported to be pouring from the garage out of the dumpster.

A Nixle alert was issued warning about traffic delays. Both directions of Coast Highway were closed between Broadway Street and Aster Street.

“At 2 p.m., officers obtained video surveillance of the altercation and fire. The footage clearly shows Sterling set the fire and flee the area,” Sgt Cota said. “Sterling was arrested and interviewed regarding the arson. He was ultimately charged with Arson.”

Jermaine Austin Sterling, 33, Laguna Beach, was arrested for arson.

Bail was set at $250,000.

Bike rage incident reported near Emerald Bay

On Saturday, Sept 8, at 10:16 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to Emerald Bay and North Coast Highway in reference to an assault amongst bicyclists. 

The reporting party was a cyclist who was riding in a group of approximately 10 other cyclists. They were part of a local bicyclist group.

“The group of cyclists were travelling in the number one northbound traffic lane of North Coast Highway,” Sgt Cota said. “As the group rode towards the intersection of Viejo Street, the suspect began a dispute in reference to the way he was riding.”

 The dispute continued as the group continued riding northbound.

 “A short time later, the suspect approached the RP’s left side and called him a [expletive]. The suspect then grabbed the RP’s left shoulder, shook him, and then pushed him off towards the side of the road,” Sgt Cota said. 

The attacked cyclist nearly collided with the curb but was able to maintain control of the bike and was able to prevent himself from coming off his bicycle. 

“The RP is desirous of prosecution and is willing to assist in the prosecution of the suspect,” Sgt Cota said. “This case will be forwarded to detectives.”

Python missing for over two months, perusing the streets of Laguna, reunited with owner 

On Friday, Sept 7, around 11 p.m. at Coast View Drive, Nicolas Radisay and his wife Jenny were driving home from visiting friends when they came across a snake slithering across the street.

Nicolas gave the full story to Stu News in detail.

“My wife and I were driving home. My wife saw the snake and said, ‘Oh my God, is that a snake?’” Nicolas answered, “It sure is.” 

“She exclaimed, ‘Don’t you dare get out of this car,’” Nicolas said, “It was too late.”

 In his words…

“My first thought was it was a displaced rattlesnake which someone might run over. I’ll call animal control, so they can properly relocate it.

When I noticed it was a python I placed my shoe in front of her to see if she was aggressive. She balled up slowly and let me touch her with my hand, which affirmed that she was shy, but domesticated. So I picked her up.

Police Files Python

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Jenny Radisay 

Rescued pet python lucky to be crossing the street at the right time, found by good Samaritan

“When I was younger, I had roommates who had snakes, I had friends who were collectors, and I am an Eagle Scout. Scouting was the primary source of how to identify indigenous poisonous snakes and non-poisonous snakes. More importantly, I learned to keep calm and how to handle or guide snakes at pole’s length while respecting snakes’ importance in our ecosystem. 

When I picked up the snake my wife wouldn’t let me back in the car. She kept the window cracked while driving next to me. She teased me and we laughed a lot, but she still wouldn’t let me in the house. 

She parked the car, ran into the house and sent the kids up to check the snake out. The kids were amazed and couldn’t believe a snake such as this would be cruising the street. Of course, they were quick to take photos and thought the snake was so cool!

Of realizing that it was a tropical snake, I prepared a home for it with rags inside a cooler. It had oxygen and would have been warm enough inside our garage. Snakes don’t need to eat often, and she clearly had been eating something. 

The kids posted pics on Snapchat and within minutes they made contact with the owner. A young boy who also lives on our street, near where the python was found, was happily reunited with his pet. His sister had accidentally left the cage open two months earlier. So you could imagine the boy’s surprise at the discovery of his long lost friend. He said she grew about six inches while she was away. 

My wife is the happiest of all that the snake found her way home; me too since my new home was likely going to be in the garage with the snake my wife so teases.”

Coyotes stalk canines in North Laguna backyard

On Wednesday, Sept 5, at 8:04 a.m. at Irvine Cove Drive and N Coast Highway, LBPD received a call about a coyote attacking a local canine. The incident was later confirmed.

The next day, at 9:15 a.m., another coyote incident was reported in the same area, this time at Irvine Cove Court.

The resident who called to report the incident said, “Every night three coyotes come and poke their noses through the fence. As a result, the dogs end up barking all night.”

The caller wanted an Animal Services officer to come and assess the situation to come meet them at the backyard fence. 

“Coyotes will sit outside approximately an hour or longer,” the resident explained.

Police Files

Woman allegedly smashes beer bottle against man’s head, causing great bodily injury

On Monday, Sept 3, at 1:56 a.m., at the 600 block of S Coast Highway, LBPD officers responded to the Pacific Edge Hotel for a possible domestic violence incident in progress. Officers arrived and contacted a couple in their hotel room. 

According to police logs, the front desk called the room twice and sent security but no one responded.

Police Files Margaret PriestAccording to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers noticed blood on the door frame. The male subject was bleeding from a laceration to the side of his head.”

The female subject claimed that she was in the hotel room when the male returned to the room with the head laceration.

“Unfortunately for her, officers found a broken beer bottle with strands of the male subject’s hair attached, blood and broken beer bottle fragments in the bed, and blood transfer on the female subject’s arm; all indicating that the female subject had smashed a beer bottle against the side of the male subject’s head,” Sgt Cota said.

La Canada resident Margaret Priest, 22, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence. The male subject was transported to Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach, and an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) was issued, according to Sgt Cota.

Bail was set at $50,000 and $25,000 for Priest’s two felony charges.

Magic mushrooms lead to jail trip for Laguna man

Police Files John FraserOn Monday, Sept 3, at 2:36 p.m., an LBPD officer conducted a traffic stop and contacted Laguna Beach resident, John Fraser. 

According to Sgt Cota, “The officer consensually searched the vehicle and located 290 grams of Psilocybin mushrooms and a scale.”

John Christian Fraser, 27, Laguna Beach, was taken into custody for possession of a controlled substance and transportation of a controlled substance for sales. 

Bail was set at $25,000 for both of Fraser’s felony charges.

“The bail amount was dictated by the large amount of drugs,” Sgt Cota said.

Laguna resident scammed out of over $8K on IRS phone fraud

On Friday, Aug 31, at approximately 8:31 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to a local residence in reference to a fraud report. The victim stated she paid $8,140 to the IRS via telephone and later discovered it was a scam.

 The victim received a voicemail message earlier that day with the caller stating that they were the IRS, they needed to speak to her immediately, and to call them back. They left a telephone number for her to call back. She did and spoke to an unknown man with an accent, supposedly with the IRS. 

According to Sgt Cota, “She was told that an investigation into her taxes from 2012-2017 revealed that she immediately owed $8,140 to avoid an arrest warrant.”

The victim was transferred to various people and given steps to conduct a money transfer as well as stay on the phone throughout the process. 

“Unfortunately, she fell victim to this IRS scam and sent money to these unknown people via a name, banking institution, and routing number,” Sgt Cota said. “She also provided these unknown people her driver’s license number.” 

Once she learned she was being scammed, she attempted to contact her bank but learned they would not stop the transaction. It is unknown why at this time. LBPD detectives will be forwarding this case to the FBI. 

“I am really saddened to hear about this latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scam against one of our citizens. As a reminder, the IRS will not initiate contact with you by telephone, email, text, or social media. Furthermore, they will not call you and demand immediate payment,” Sgt Cota said.

“The FBI is fully aware of these type of scams going on across the country. If ever in doubt, ask for a call back telephone number and then call the Laguna Beach Police Department for assistance,” Sgt Cota said. “We have no problem calling any telephone number for you to verify the nature of the business and the validity of the caller.”

Uber driver arrested on vehicle theft warrant while on duty in Laguna Beach

Police Files Gregory ChattertonOn Monday, Sept 3, at 5:20 p.m., LBPD officers responded to a possible DUI driver northbound Coast Highway from Aliso Beach. Officers located the Ford Taurus and made a traffic stop on Broadway Street near the bus depot.

According to Sgt Cota, “The driver was identified as Garden Grove resident, Gregory Chatterton. Chatterton was an on-duty Uber driver. He was found not to be DUI.” 

Gregory William Chatterton, 41, of Garden Grove, was arrested for an outstanding Orange County felony warrant for vehicle theft.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Fraud suspect arrested for nearly $600,000 in stolen checks and electronic transfers

In November of 2016, a Laguna Beach resident reported to the LBPD that he had been the victim of check fraud. Detectives began an investigation, which revealed that the victim’s maintenance repair man, Jose Angel Martinez Casillas, was the suspect. 

Police Files Jose Angel Martinez Casillas“After a lengthy investigation, which included interviewing several involved parties and authoring 12 search warrants to several businesses and banks, detectives determined that Casillas had cashed/deposited 56 stolen checks over a 6-month period totaling $431,580.00 and was also responsible for 41 fraudulent electronic transactions totaling $154,016.74 for a total loss of $585,596.74,” Sgt Jim Cota said.

A felony arrest warrant which included 98 felony counts for forgery, grand theft, and burglary was issued for Casillas, and Laguna Beach detectives took Casillas safely into custody.

“The assigned detectives in this case did an outstanding job. They collaborated with the OCDA’s office and conducted a thorough and lengthy investigation that yielded numerous charges. It was a great feeling for the detectives to locate Mr. Casillas this morning and put an end to his criminal activity,” said Sgt Cota.

For more information, contact Sgt Cota at (949) 464-6671 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Police Files

Swimmer dies after being pulled from ocean at Moss Street Beach

A swimmer found in the early morning at Moss Street Beach on Friday, Aug 31 died after being transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. 

According to police logs, LB lifeguards were called to the beach at 7:22 a.m. after a man was spotted floating approximately 50 yards offshore of Moss Street Beach. The swimmer, who was wearing a wetsuit, did not respond, did not have a pulse, and did not seem to be breathing. 

According to LBPD PIO Sgt Jim Cota, he was transported to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo where he was pronounced dead.

His identity has not been released.

Baby bobcat rescued by local good Samaritans dies

The 12-week old baby bobcat rescued by longtime locals Kimberly and Clay Leeds from oncoming traffic on Laguna Canyon Road succumbed to her many injuries on Thursday, Aug 30.

 The tiny kitten was at the Serrano Animal & Bird Hospital in Lake Forest under care of wild animal care specialist Dr. Scott Weldy. 

“I spoke to Dr. Weldy and he let us know unfortunately the little girl kitty who we tried to save didn’t make it,” Kimberly Leeds said. “We are so very sad she didn’t make it.”

She suffered extensive chemical burns, missing fur, damaged tissue and a wounded paw.

“The little girl kitten was about 1 1/2 kilos and was suffering from a chemical or thermal burn, according to Dr. Weldy,” Kimberly Leeds said. “Clay and I can’t fathom how the kitten was injured. It has been some time since the fire in Aliso and the “burns” didn’t look scorched – they looked more like a chemical burn.” 

“The kitten had an injured paw that looked like it happened a while ago. It was limping and very tired,” Clay Leeds said.

Police Files Baby Bobcat

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Photo by Clay Leeds

The 12-week-old bobcat kitten good Samaritans Kimberly and Clay Leeds rescued dies

It is another tragedy of living on the urban edge, explained Kimberly Leeds.

“Many bobcats take up residence under the decks of homes or close to dwellings when they den up with kittens,” Kimberly Leeds said. “The presence of humans dissuade predators to come closer making it easier to raise the kittens. Unfortunately, being nearby humans creates hazards to the kittens.”

The baby bobcat was a true fighter and trooper, often growling to protect herself, 

Dr. Weldy told the Leeds earlier in the week that the baby bobcat was doing better. She appeared to be responding to treatment.

“I’ve been told the little bobcat is recovering and is in stable condition, which is encouraging news,” Clay Leeds said.

The Leeds spotted the baby bobcat struggling to cross Laguna Canyon Road when they rescued her.

Pay attention to bus laws to keep kids safe going back to school

LBPD wants to make sure your kids are safe going back to school. LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota posted a safety flyer on the department’s Twitter page regarding rules when it comes to school bus safety and traffic.

If the school bus has its red stop sign out and the overhead lights are flashing red, drivers need to stop in both directions. If the overhead lights are yellow, drivers need to prepare to stop. If the hazard lights in the rear of the bus are flashing, drivers may proceed with extreme caution.

Police Files Bus

Click on photo for a larger image 

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Watch out for children and pay attention to bus safety rules

As summer draws to a close and children start heading back to school, family life can get pretty hectic. It’s important to remember – and share with your children – some key tips that will help keep them safe and healthy throughout the school year. 

The National Safety Council advises:

“School days bring congestion: School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.”

For more back to school safety tips from National Safety Council, visit

Police Files

Word to criminals: If you drive a stolen Cadillac through Laguna Beach, expect to be caught

Police Files Shawn Lenn MillerOn Sunday, Aug 26, at 11:41 p.m., dispatchers alerted LBPD officers to a white, four door, 2014 XTS Cadillac, which was stolen earlier in the day from Covina, reported by the Covina PD.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Officers located the vehicle on S Coast Highway near Thalia and followed it to Emerald Bay. A high-risk vehicle stop was initiated at Irvine Cove and three subjects were detained.”

One of the subjects, Shawn Lenn Miller, 24, of Covina, admitted to stealing the Cadillac. 

 “The passengers denied knowledge of the car being stolen,” Sgt Cota said. 

Miller was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle. The report didn’t say how the passengers got home.

Bail was set at $20,000.

Street musician allegedly harassed downtown

Police Files Braden Elliot BoltonOn Sunday, Aug 26, at 8:35 p.m., LBPD responded to Bushard’s Pharmacy after reports of “a homeless male subject harassing a street performer,” according to Sgt Cota. The performer called in the incident to LBPD, telling LBPD that the man was yelling at him and that they were located at the breezeway on Forest.

The street performer, later identified as a musician, repeatedly called LBPD. According to the police report, he called at least three times. 

When officers arrived, they contacted the street performer and the subject, Braden Elliot Bolton, 34, of Laguna Beach.

According to Sgt Cota, “Bolton was placed under arrest for public intoxication. While being housed, Bolton became uncooperative and spat at one of the officers. The spittle landed on the officer’s neck and uniform. An additional charge of battery on a peace officer was added.”

Bolton was transported to OCJ.

Bail was set at $500.

UPDATE: Baby bobcat rescued by local good Samaritans is recovering and in stable condition

Two big paws up – the baby bobcat rescued recently by longtime locals Kimberly and Clay Leeds is on the mend.

The Leeds went into parent protection mode, thinking quickly to save the life of a baby bobcat dashing into traffic on Laguna Canyon Road. Clay Leeds talked to Stu News about the harrowing event.

“When I saw the kitten in traffic across from the Dog Park, I realized I had to act quickly or the baby bobcat kitten would be run over. I pulled over, put on my hazards and worked to get the kitten to safety,” Leeds said. “We used an umbrella to annoy the kitten and chase it out from under a car that had stopped.”

Police Files Baby Bobcat

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Clay Leeds

Good Samaritans Kimberly and Clay Leeds rescue a baby bobcat on Sunday

The tiny bobcat then ran to the side of the road and hid under some sagebrush. 

“The bobcat kitten was panting heavily like it was exhausted. I called LBPD and they said others had called Animal Services throughout the afternoon, but they couldn’t locate the bobcat,” Leeds said. “LBPD dispatched Animal Services and while we were waiting, the little bobcat ran back into the street. We briefly stopped traffic again, and that’s when Kimberly did a ‘blanket capture’ with a towel from a passerby.”

LBPD Animal Services came and the Leeds helped get the little bobcat into a crate. 

“I’ve been told the little bobcat is recovering and is in stable condition, which is encouraging news,” Leeds said.


Congrats to Laguna’s finest, LBPD Sgt Jim Cota accepted to USC Master of Communications Program

Stu News is proud to congratulate LBPD Sgt Jim Cota on his acceptance to the USC, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Master of Communication program in Communication Management. He will be hitting the books soon, starting the fall semester in mid-September.

Police Files Sgt Cota

Courtesy LPBD Twitter

LBDP Sgt Jim Cota pictured with Joseph at the Tip-a-Cop Special Olympics fundraiser, making others’ dreams come true, now it’s his turn

Sgt Cota in his own words:

“I am very honored and excited to be accepted into USC Master’s Program in Communication Management. This was a dream of mine since I was young kid because to me USC has always been the best of the best in schooling institutions.

 “I am prepared for the challenges coming my way in the upcoming fall semester. I was very fortunate to have the support of USC alumni Captain Jeff Calvert and LBHS principal Jason Allemann encouraging me during the application process.

 “Chief Farinella also was a tremendous support by personally writing a letter of recommendation on my behave. It will be much more special now going to the USC football games because now I am a USC student. Fight on!” Sgt Cota said. 

Right on, Fight on, Sgt Cota!

Police Files

Bobcat kitten saved by local good Samaritans 

Local Jennifer Samson contacted Stu News to let readers know that she saw a rescue of a baby bobcat on Laguna Canyon Road on Sunday. She witnessed longtime Laguna local Kimberly Leeds and her husband, Clay Leeds, perform the rescue of the adorable wild feline.

“She and another man [husband Clay] stopped traffic and used a towel to help the bobcat get out of oncoming traffic,” Jennifer Samson said. “We know Mrs. Leeds, as both of our kids go to TOW, so I recognized her right away.” 

Clay Leeds explained how the rescue occurred.

Police Files Bobcat 2

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Courtesy of Jennifer Samson

Two local good Samaritans and parents save a baby bobcat in the canyon

“We were across from the Dog Park. We blocked traffic in both directions so the kitten wouldn’t get run over if it darted out into traffic,” Leeds said. 

 Traffic only had to wait about two minutes while the Leeds got a towel out of a trunk from a passerby, he said. 

“Then, we transferred the kitten to our own blanket, so we could give back the towel,” Leeds said. “After Kimberly blanket captured the kitten, a Laguna Beach Animal Services officer help us put the kitten in the kitty carrier.”

Police Files Bobcat 1

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of Clay Leeds

In rescue mode, the Leeds save a baby bobcat without missing a beat

“My wife Kimberly learned it when she used to volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center in while she was going to Laguna Beach High School,” Leeds said. “She says no one would sit by her in class in the mornings because she smelled like herring.” 

“The kitten had an injured paw that looked like it happened a while ago. It was limping and very tired,” Leeds said. “The Laguna Beach Animal Services officer told us the kitten would most likely end up with a wild animal specialist like Dr. Weldy at the Orange County Zoo.”

Man airlifted during ER rescue at Table Rock Beach 

A man suffering a medical emergency was rescued from Table Rock Beach on Monday afternoon thanks to the valiant efforts of local safety agencies, LBPD, LPFD, and OC Lifeguards

OC Lifeguards Chief Jason Young said they responded to a medical aid call at Table Rock Beach.

He said he was waiting to look at the full incident report before he would have a complete report of the facts. 

PF Airlift Rescue

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Photo by John Thomas

ER rescue requires a helicopter transport to the hospital on Monday at Table Rock Beach

“Our lifeguards had to respond to medical aid at Table Rock Beach and the patient was treated by lifeguards and we also had paramedics dispatched,” Chief Young said. “The paramedics provided patient care and they determined they would need to airlift the person off of the beach.”

 Young explained the helicopter, Mercy Air, was called in to provide the air transport to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.

“I can’t really tell you about the patient’s status because of privacy laws. I can tell you that it was an adult male patient, but that’s about all I can tell you,” Chief Young said, regarding patient specifics.

He said until he got the incident report, he could not verify 100 percent if it was a rescue that preceded the medical problem. 

“I don’t believe there was, but I would have to get my full incident report before I can verify that,” Chief Young said. “The patient was on the sand and it was initiated on the beach.”

LBFD Division Chief Api Weinert said two LBFD engines were involved to help save the man’s life. One was Station 4 from South Laguna and the other was Station 2, known as the midtown station located at the corner of Glenneyre Street and Agate Street.

“Our fire engine from South Laguna arrived on scene first made it down the stairs to Table Rock Beach and made contact with Orange County Lifeguards,” Chief Weinert said. “He was an adult male having a medical incident after he was in the water.” 

He reiterated what Young said regarding the man’s transport. As to how long it takes for a rescue like on Monday at Table Rock, he said a lot of variables are involved.

“One is the ETA of the helicopter, whether the helicopter can be landed on the beach or the patient needs to be hoisted, the location, the patient might not be right where the helicopter can land and the patient might have to be moved a little bit,” Chief Weinert said. “There are just so many variables involved.”

He said using airlift is the last choice for myriad reasons.

However, according to Chief Weinert and Chief Young, if a person should encounter a medical emergency, it’s urgent to call 911 immediately. 

“Call 911 and contact a lifeguard. [It is also helpful] if the person has CPR training and hopefully some kind of basic proceduring to feel comfortable to assist and aid,” Chief Weinert said.

Conveniently, he pointed out that they have some CPR and basic aid courses available via Laguna Beach Community Services.

Meth and coke land two young men behind bars

On Saturday, Aug 25 at 2:50 a.m., at Brooks Street and South Coast Highway, an LBPD officer conducted a vehicle stop for a burnt out headlight in the 100 block of Brooks Street. According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, Michael Young, 25, of Irvine, gave consent to search his vehicle and person. 

“A search of Young’s wallet in his rear pocket revealed zip lock baggie of cocaine. Young stated he purchased it at a party in Newport Beach,” Sgt Cota said. “Young’s driver’s license was suspended as well as he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He was arrested for possession of cocaine and the outstanding warrant.”

Police Files Sean YoungAccording to Sgt Cota, a search of the vehicle revealed a large ziploc baggie of white residue, a bag of 55 small ziploc baggies, and a weighing scale with white residue on it. 

LBPD officers also located text messaging conversions in reference to drug sales.

Young was also charged with possession of a controlled substance for sales and transportation of controlled substances for sales. 

Bail was set at $25,000. 

• • •

Also on Saturday, Aug 25, just a few hours earlier at 12:22 a.m., an LBPD officer observed a male subject running northbound on North Coast Highway at Boat Canyon…running through the red signal without stopping. 

“The officer stopped him and asked him to sit on the curb. He did momentarily but began to walk in the roadway. He was again directed to listen to the office,” said Sgt Cota.

 LBPD said upon request, he provided his name and date of birth. The male subject was identified as Shane Patrick Gallagher, 24, of San Clemente.

Police Files Shane Gallagher“Gallagher was fidgety, sweating, and appeared nervous. He kept looking around like he was hallucinating. A consensual search of Gallagher revealed methamphetamine in his front paper wrapped in paper,” Sgt Cota said. “An under the influence investigation was conducted and Gallagher was subsequently arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance.”

Gallagher was taken to Mission Hospital for a medical clearance. Once the clearance was given by the medical staff, Gallagher was walked back to the awaiting police vehicle when he took off running while still handcuffed. 

“Commands were given to stop as a foot pursuit began. Additional officers were requested as Gallagher attempted to hit in the bushes in the 32000 block of Coast Highway,” Sgt Cota said. 

He was captured by officers and also charged with Escape with Custody and Resisting/Obstructing Arrest. Gallagher was transported to OCJ.

 Bail was set at $10,000.

Jeep on the beach...just misses pedestrians

On Friday, Aug 24, at 8:21 p.m., at the 100 block of S Coast Highway, LBPD officers were dispatched to Main Beach in reference to a vehicle stuck in the sand.

Police Files Jeep on the beach

Click on photo for a larger image 

Submitted photo

A cautionary tale: A few inches further, and this Jeep might have struck these pedestrians

“A DUI investigation was conducted and she was subsequently arrested for DUI. Her blood level exceeded .08 percent,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said.

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