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Laguna Beach

Police Files

Man beaten bloody at bus stop reportedly for no apparent reason

On Wednesday, Oct 3, at 9:25 p.m., at Cleo Street and South Coast Highway, LBPD officers were dispatched for an assault that had reportedly just occurred involving a man hitting another man. A description of the suspect was given and dispatch advised the suspect had gone into the underground parking lot at a local hotel. He was described as a white male with light hair, a medium build, with tattoos on his arms, and wearing a light color short sleeve shirt.

 According to LBPD police logs, the victim said that he didn’t know the suspect or why he hit him. A witness corroborated and said, “The attack was completely unprovoked.”

“The victim had a bloody face and mouth but was declining medical attention,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “Officers conducted a search and investigation and were able to locate the suspect in a room at the hotel.”

 The victim was desirous of prosecution and Nicholas Tyler Lilley, 27, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery. The victim is a resident of Santa Ana. 

“Yes, the attack was unprovoked and occurred at a bus bench,” Sgt Cota added.

Bail was set at $500.

Man allegedly moons another, pulls apart plants, and then commits arson at the library 

On Friday, Oct 5 at 1:49 a.m., at the 300 block of Glenneyre Street, LBPD officers responded to the City Library in reference to a man allegedly exposing himself by mooning the reporting party. After that, the suspect reportedly went into the garden area outside the library and started pulling apart plants.

“Upon the officers’ arrival, Brian O’Connor lit a bundle of newspapers on fire in front of the Library,” Sgt Cota said. “O’Connor had a second bundle of newspapers near him and attempted to throw the second bindle on the fully engulfed fire before the officer intervened.”

Brian Keith Michael O’Connor, 56, of Laguna Beach, was arrested for arson.

O’Conner is homeless and claims an address of the ASL,” Sgt Cota added.

Thalia Street squatter takes over home for months, busted two days before birthday

Police Files Robert OxierOn Saturday, Oct 6 at 1:25 p.m., LBPD officers responded to the 100 block of Thalia Street for a squatter inside a vacant residence. The trespasser was reported by a real estate agent, who had video of the intruder and contacted the homeowner.

“The homeowner came home to the property and found the homeless suspect living inside the residence,” Sgt Cota said. “The suspect had all his personal property and food inside the residence, stating he had been living there the past four months.”

The homeowner was desirous of prosecution and signed a private person arrest form. Robert Oxier, 36, with no known residence, was placed under arrest for trespassing and later released.

Bail was set at $500.

Second domestic battery charge for Laguna Beach man in two weeks

Police Files Damon RobertsOn Wednesday, Oct 3 at 7:39 p.m., at the 3000 block of Dorn Court, LBPD officers responded to a residence in reference to a domestic violence investigation. At the time of the call, the reporting party said they were now in separate rooms. She was in the bedroom and he was in the kitchen. 

Damon Harold Roberts, 59, of Laguna Beach, was taken into custody for misdemeanor domestic battery. According to Sgt Cota, Roberts allegedly pushed the 71-year-old alleged victim and poked her in the face.

“He was arrested for similar circumstances approximately two weeks ago,” Sgt Cota said. “An Emergency Protective Order was obtained, and Adult Protective Services was notified.”

Bail was set at $1,000.

Police Files

Suspicious man seen peeking through bushes at TOW

On Tuesday, Oct 2, at 8:12 a.m., LBPD officers responded to reports of a suspicious subject on Alta Laguna Blvd, who was frightening the local residents with his bizarre behavior.

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “We contacted a male subject, who resides on Mountain View. He appeared to be coming down from drug use and he was advised against questionable hand gestures, imitating a handgun, toward the TOW school and other bizarre behavior. We received other calls of a similar nature a short time later.” 

According to the LBPD log, the suspicious person was seen roaming the perimeter of the school at 1:58 p.m. peeking through the bushes at TOW. The suspect was described as a bald male with a mohawk wearing a football sports jersey. He was warned not to come onto the grounds of the school’s campus or he would be arrested.

Sgt Cota said, “SRO Cornelius Ashton will be following up with this subject on this matter. Detectives are aware of the subject, and he will be watched very closely.”

Amorous imbiber hits on women at Pavilions

On Tuesday, Oct 2, at 4:42 p.m., at the 600 block of N Coast Hwy, LBPD officers responded to a male subject smelling of alcohol standing at the entrance of Pavilions refusing to leave. 

“He kissed a random customer on the cheek and was asking employees on dates,” according to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota. “Officers got a taxi cab for the subject who lives in town. No one was desirous of prosecution.” 

According to police records, the subject was described as a thin, white male approximately 20 years old, wearing white and driving a white Range Rover. Because of his condition, a taxi was requested to drive the subject to his home in the Temple Hills area.

LBPD Chief Farinella clarifies legality of sleeping on beaches

In response to a Stu News inquiry, noting an apparent increase in LBPD records of individuals reportedly camping on the beach at night, particularly around Main Beach and Crystal Cove, LBPD Chief Laura Farinella clarifies the ordinance in Laguna Beach.

The Laguna Beach Ordinance states that both beaches and parks are closed from 1 to 5 a.m. This is usually why officers are called to the beach, for individuals sleeping on the beach during these times," Chief Farinella said. “Mere sleeping on the beach is not a violation of the law. Also, the reason you see no arrests is because officers do their best to gain compliance by having them leave and making recommendations where they can legally sleep.”

LBMC 8.05.010 Closing times ordinance reads, “Except as otherwise provided in this Title 18 of the Municipal Code, all city beaches and parks shall be closed to public use at 1 a.m. and shall remain closed until 5 a.m.”

Readers rattled by rattler reports, updates included

In Tuesday’s edition of Stu News, there were several reports of rattlesnakes inside homes and too close for comfort on porches, on the stairs, and undesired locations that concerned some of our readers. So, we turned to our local expert, LBPD Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres to keep our loyal peeps apprised of the snake situation of rampant rattlers here in Laguna.

As reported on Wednesday, Sept 26, there were two scary incidents of rattlers found inside two local buildings just 11 minutes apart. One snake was spotted at the 20500 block of Sun Valley Drive, where a person reported that a rattlesnake was in their home in their living room. 

“The rattlesnake was behind an entertainment center in the living room of the resident’s home. It is unknown how the rattlesnake got in, possibly through an open door. An animal services officer responded, caught the rattlesnake, and relocated the snake to a wilderness area in Laguna Canyon,” Beres explained.

Also, on that same day, one of the other more frightful findings was a rattler found in a restroom.

And even worse the reckless rattler was located at one of our schools.

According to Beres, “The rattlesnake was in a bathroom at El Morro Elementary School. It is unknown how the snake got inside the bathroom. An animal services officer responded, caught the snake, and relocated the snake to a wilderness area in Laguna Canyon.”

Please be cautious because there are too many snakes sneaking around in town. If you find one, make sure to report it to LBPD.

Police Files

Local rehab patients found rolling in Post Office lobby

Police Files FlahertyOn Sunday, Sept 30, at 6:53 a.m., LBPD officers responded to the US Post Office at 31677 Virginia Way for two “transient looking subjects” inside the lobby rolling around under the table. 

According to LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota, “Both subjects were local residential rehab patients and one was determined to have two warrants for drug and alcohol violations out of West Court.”

New Hampshire resident Michael Flaherty, 22, was arrested on his warrants. The second subject was advised against further trespassing.

Meth, heroin and cash: big time bust dealt to suspected drug dealer

Police Files ReedOn Wednesday, Sept 26, at 11:27 a.m., LBPD officers were dispatched to the 1600 block of Arroyo Drive for a report of possible drug dealing. According to log reports, the two suspects were inside of a vehicle parked outside of a residence for about 40 minutes. Officers arrived and located three subjects inside of the vehicle, described to be a white sedan. 

“They all made furtive movements as the officers approached; therefore, they detained them for further investigation. Upon searching the subjects and the vehicle, officers discovered a sizeable quantity of drugs, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as a large amount of cash in various denominations belonging to the driver, Corey Aaron Reed, 36, of Garden Grove,” Sgt Cota said.

 Reed was placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance for sale, a felony.

Bail was set at $25,000.

Multiple rattlesnakes found inside residents’ homes this week

Rattlesnakes seem to be on a home invasion spree. This week, there were two incidents of rattlesnakes being reported inside residents’ homes and several sightings too close for comfort. 

On Wednesday, Sept 26, there were two scary incidents of rattlers found inside two local residences just 11 minutes apart. At 4:12 p.m., at the 20500 block of Sun Valley Drive, a person reported that a rattlesnake was in their home under a chair in their living room. A little over 10 minutes later, at 4:23 p.m., at the 8600 block of Coast Hwy, a rattlesnake was discovered in a resident’s bathroom. Also, on Wednesday, a rattlesnake, possibly identified as a diamond-head rattler, was reported in a person’s side porch at 5:43 p.m. at the 0 block of Pacific Vista.

Then, on Thursday, Sept 27, at 3:49 p.m., at the 1300 block of Morningside Drive, a person called to report a baby rattlesnake on their front steps. And on Friday, Sept 28, at 12:51 p.m., at the 3200 block of Alta Laguna Blvd, a rattlesnake was reported near the entrance of a resident’s home.

Please be careful and make sure to contact LBPD if you find a rattlesnake in or near your home.

Police Files

Suspect arrested at Surf & Sand after allegedly punching friend out, jumping off balcony onto sand

On Monday, Sept 24 at 3:16 a.m., at Surf & Sand Hotel, a caller reported to LBPD that his friend had knocked him out and that he was bleeding from the face. 

According to log reports, the caller had tried to get his credit card out of the room, which angered his friend because he was entertaining female guests and didn’t want to be interrupted.

Police Files Jeremy Bell“When officers arrived to investigate, the suspect fled on foot by jumping off the balcony onto the sand,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. 

 “The suspect left stolen mail, credit cards, and other property inside his car and the hotel room,” Sgt Cota said. “Officers searched the hotel room and vehicle taking evidence from both locations.” 

A taxi driver who was at the hotel recognized the suspect and later saw the suspect at the Chevron at SR-1 Coast Hwy and Crown Valley, but responding officers were unable to locate the suspect at the time, Sgt Cota said. 

At about 7 a.m., LBPD officers and detectives began surveillance near the hotel and the suspect was taken into custody at about 8:50 a.m. in front of the Surf & Sand. 

Bakersfield resident Jeremy Scott Bell, 33, was arrested for felony burglary second degree, battery, and using stolen credit cards. 

“Bell was positively identified and was on probation. He was charged with several fraud related crimes and burglary,” Sgt Cota said.

No bail was set.

Man gets punched for telling someone they look like talk show host Montel Williams

Police File Buce Kelly SmithOn Tuesday, Sept 25 at 7:55 a.m., at the 200 block of Broadway Street, a man, who was also the alleged victim, came to the LBPD station to report an alleged assault that had just occurred.

According to the alleged victim, he was in Whole Foods when he saw someone he thought looked like the talk show host Montel Williams. He walked up to the man and told him what he thought. Obviously not flattered, the suspect allegedly punched him in the ear and fled.

According to Sgt Cota, “Bruce Kelly Smith, 32, was found a short time later by police and positively identified as the suspect. Smith was taken into custody for the assault and two outstanding warrants. Smith listed his city and state of residence as Denton, Texas.”

Bail was set at $15,500.

Suspect unknown, the tale of a missing palm tree remains a mystery

On Wednesday, Sept 19 at 11:24 a.m., an LBPD officer met with a Merritt Farms employee who manages several properties in Laguna Beach, including at the 600 block of South Coast Highway, a vacant lot where the scene of the missing palm tree occurred.

According to police reports, the employee said the disappearance of the tree happened sometime between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. that day.

According to the witness, “An unknown subject removed a planted palm tree from the rear of the lot that was approximately 6-feet tall and 2.5-feet in diameter. The exact value of the mature rooted tree was unknown, but was estimated to be around $2,000.

 According to Sgt Cota, “There were no leads and or evidence at the time of this call. [The employee] stated, he would check neighboring businesses to see if there was any video footage of the incident. No leads have been found at this time.”

Join LBPD for National Coffee with a Cop Day Wednesday, Oct 3

LBPD invites Laguna locals to join together with neighbors and police officers for coffee and conversation on National Coffee with a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct 3. LBPD will host a morning and evening event for National Coffee with a Cop Day. The first event will be held at Peet’s Coffee located at Gelson’s Market, at 30922 S Coast Hwy, between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. The second event will be held at Starbucks at 180 N Coast Hwy, from 6 to 8 p.m. 

“All community members welcome and invited to attend. The National Coffee with a Cop Day events represent a unique opportunity for community members to informally meet with LBPD to discuss community issues, respond to questions, build relationships and, of course, drink great coffee,” said LBPD Community Services officer Nikie Hernandez. “We hope to see everyone there.”

Police Files

Visitor to Laguna arrested in felony hit and run that left pedestrian seriously injured

On Saturday, Sept 22, at 9:32 a.m., LBPD and LBFD responded to an injury traffic collision involving a pedestrian and hit and run vehicle at Beach Street and Broadway Street. The person who reported the incident said they didn’t see the vehicle but heard it prior to seeing the victim down.

Police Files BurgerbWhen the officers arrived, a woman was located sitting on a planter near the traffic collision scene with serious injuries. “It appeared she had a broken left arm and a large laceration to her neck,” said LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota.

The suspect’s vehicle was found traveling westbound on Broadway Street, described as a new silver Lexus SUV with a sunroof and roof rack. According to log reports, there was “blood on the vehicle.”

“The responding officers did a good job working with local businesses and using the city cameras to identify the suspect and his vehicle,” Sgt Cota said.

“The suspect was identified as William Edward Burger, 60, of Redlands. Burger was arrested for felony hit and run at the Laguna Shores Hotel,” Sgt Cota said. “He listed that he is the CFO at Navco in Anaheim. It should be noted he was arrested the night before for DUI.”

According to LBPD police records, Burger was arrested on suspicion of DUI at 12:11 a.m. at Forest Ave and Beach Street.

Bail was set at $50,000 for the felony hit and run and $2,500 for the suspicion of DUI.

Poor pup plucked from parked Prius at Pavilions

On Saturday, Sept 22, at 4:57 p.m., an LBPD officer was dispatched to the Pavilions parking lot, at the 600 block of N Coast Hwy, in reference to grand theft of a dog from a vehicle. An LB Animal Services Officer arrived prior to the PD officer and contacted the victim. The victim parked her Prius near the back of the lot. 

According to the victim, she left her window lowered a few inches, doors locked, and her small young dog, Joey, inside, while she went into Pavilions for approximately 10 minutes. 

“When she returned, the dog was gone and the doors were unlocked,” Sgt Cota said. “Unfortunately, the windows were lowered enough for an arm to reach in and unlock the door. The ASO contacted Pavilions management and learned there are no cameras in the parking lot.” 

Joey is described as an 11-month-old blue merle toy Australian Shepherd. He is microchipped. The pup’s parent said she paid $1,500 for Joey, but he’s priceless.

Police Files Pup

Click on photo for a larger image 

Courtesy of

Not an actual picture of Joey, but a picture of a blue merle toy Australian Shepherd to be on the lookout for

According to dog experts, the toy is the smallest version of the Australian Shepherd, standing between 10 to 14-inches tall at the shoulder when full-grown and weighing between 12 and 17 pounds. Although he’s small, the toy version has all the herding instincts of his larger relatives.

There are no additional leads or suspects at this time. Keep a watch out for Joey and please call LBPD at (949) 497-0701 with any information or leads.

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. 

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

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

Click on photo for a larger image 

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

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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