Laguna Beach

Police Files

Woman confronted a man getting into her car as she stood nearby – when she did, he swung a knife at her 

A woman called 9-1-1 from a driveway on Camel Point Drive at 3:53 Tuesday afternoon reporting that a man she didn’t know had swung a knife at her.

The caller said she had pulled into a friend’s driveway and had left her doors unlocked and the engine running while she talked with a friend about 25 feet away.

The woman told police that she had seen the man, later identified as Michael Cowan, 45, no fixed address, open a car door and begin to get inside.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said Thursday, “The victim confronted the man and asked why he was going into the car. The man became upset and pulled out a folding knife from his waistband and swung it toward the victim. He had told the victim that he was a former Marine and military.”

The knife did not strike the woman. 

Officers did an area search located Cowan within five minutes at the Aliso Beach parking lot where he was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. 

Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation on Tuesday 

The Laguna Beach Police Department will step up Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations on Dec 6, with focused enforcement on collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians. 

The department will be focusing on locations, since January 2012, where pedestrian involved accidents have occurred along with the violations that led to those crashes. Officers will be conducting directed enforcement at those locations looking for traffic offenses made by drivers and pedestrians alike that can lead to life-changing injuries. Special attention will be given to drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or any other dangerous violation. 

Additionally, enforcement action will be taken against pedestrians committing violations such as crossing the street illegally or failing to yield to drivers who have the right of way. Pedestrians should cross the street only at marked crosswalks or at corners.

In 2013, California witnessed 701 pedestrian deaths accounting for over 23 percent of all roadway fatalities, much higher than the national average of 15 percent. A national study reveals that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently, and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving. Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of way. 

The Laguna Beach Police Department would like to remind both drivers and pedestrians to be alert and share the roadway. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Police Files

Two men, woman, arrested for strong-armed robbery

Officers were called to the parking lot at Mission Hospital just after 6 o’clock last Tuesday night for a report of a robbery.

Sgt. Tim Heisler of the LBPD said the victim called 9-1-1 and told officers when they arrived on scene that he “…was walking in the parking lot and two males exited a Ford Mustang and called him a narc and snitch. The two males then struck the RP several times and took his wallet and fled in the Ford. The victim sustained swelling to his left eye and complained of pain to his head. He was taken to the hospital for his injuries.”

LBPD stopped the Mustang heading northbound on Coast Hwy near Wesley Drive. There were two male passengers and a female driver, police said.

Sgt. Kleiser said the four people knew each other and there had been contact between them a few days before the incident.

 Derek Schmalle, 21, and Timothy Solomon, 28, both from San Clemente, and Shanoa Mitchell, 27 of Capistrano Beach, were all arrested for felony robbery and felony conspiracy and held on $100,000 bail each.

Man with two dogs struck on S. Coast Hwy – one dog was killed

A man walking across S. Coast Hwy at Brooks Street with two dogs in a crosswalk was struck by a vehicle heading northbound. Police said the Laguna Beach man, 45, was crossing Coast Hwy toward the inland side when the collision occurred.

He was hospitalized with a broken leg, police said. One of the dogs died at the scene as a result of the collision and the other was injured.

Police said it did not appear that ether alcohol or drugs were a factor and the driver was not arrested on scene. 

The investigation has not been completed. 

Another eucalyptus cut – across from Montage Laguna Beach

Another eucalyptus tree was cut at the base apparently overnight Friday. It was in the parking lot almost directly across Coast Hwy from where the trees with the same cuts were discovered on Montage Laguna Beach property.

Montage told police that an arborist was uncertain about the ability of their trees to survive the cutting. An arborist will look at the tree in the parking lot in the 30800 block this week.

No further details were available.

Police Files

Five 40-yr-old eucalyptus trees cut at base of trunks in front of Montage Resort – arborist not sure if they will survive  

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Two of five 40-year-old eucalyptus trees cut in front of Montage Laguna Beach

Police said that Montage Laguna Beach staff estimates the value of replacing five tall eucalyptus trees cut at the base of their trunks overnight Sunday to be between $400,000 and $500,000.

The cuts were discovered and reported to the LBPD Monday morning. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser told us, “An arborist advised it would take approximately four to six weeks to determine if the trees would recover from the damage and estimated the trees were 40-45 years old. The case has been assigned to detectives.”

Police Files

Heroin dealer arrested in Glenneyre parking structure

A patrol officer observed a man inside a parked vehicle in the Glenneyre parking structure Monday night at 7:19 and suspected the man of doing drugs.

The officer made contact with Wesley Allen Beebower, 27 of Mission Viejo, and soon placed him in custody for misdemeanor possession of drugs.

A search of his vehicle turned up about a half an ounce of heroin and 2.65 grams of methamphetamine along with a digital scale.

His charges were amended in the field to felony possession of dugs for sales and felony transportation of drugs for sales. 

Bail was set at $30,000.

Laguna cops will be out looking for DUI drivers Saturday

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department’s DUI Enforcement Team will be deploying this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign. 

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy on Saturday, Nov 19, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

$25,000 in jewelry taken from an outside storage closet

A resident in the 21700 block of Ocean Vista Drive reported Monday afternoon that 30-40 pieces of jewelry and two silver trays had been stolen from an outside storage unit. Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said there were no signs of forced entry.

The victim told police that the last time the items were checked was on Sept 18 and estimated the loss at $25,000.  

FBI agents arrest suspect in Oct 27 Union Bank robbery

FBI agents arrested Beverly Hills resident Kyle Jason Korte, 36, in Ventura County late last week in connection with several SoCal bank robberies including the armed robbery of the Union Bank branch here at 229 Broadway.

In the Oct 27 robbery here, the suspect entered the bank with a handgun wearing a full-face mask and demanded money from a teller.

He escaped with an undisclosed sum of money.

The same man is suspected of also robbing a Chase Bank branch in Seal Beach about an hour later that Thursday afternoon. 

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Laguna detectives worked with the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force and the several other agencies where Korte is the suspect.

Police Files

Newport Beach teens smash into 5 cars speeding in Mercedes Saturday

Two Newport Beach teenagers, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, drove a Mercedes CLK through Laguna Beach for a little over 15 minutes and collided with five vehicles along the way.

Police were called about a hit and run at Alexander Road and Ashton Drive just before ten o’clock Saturday morning. The boy was driving the black Mercedes when he struck an occupied car and drove away, Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

“The victim followed the Mercedes and confronted the 17-year-old male driver in the area of Rounsevel Terrace. The driver exited the car and while speaking with the victim a 16-year-old female climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away in the Mercedes. While driving away, the Mercedes collided into several parked vehicles,” Sgt. Kleiser added.

The boy then ran to the Mercedes and took over the driving as they fled the area.

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Photo by Janelle Hilton

Police with one of the two girls detained at the Mobil station

Laguna’s 9-1-1 dispatchers received multiple calls about the Mercedes speeding north on Coast Highway in the middle lane. Officers gave pursuit near Bluebird canyon Drive before making a felony car stop in the Mobil parking lot downtown.

A 15-year-old Irvine girl was also in the Mercedes.

All three were taken to the police station and issued citations before being released to their parents.

The charges included possession of alcohol and drugs, hit and run, and driving without a license. 

Two arrested after strong-arm robbery in Gelson’s parking lot

Two men walked up to a man in the parking lot near Gelson’s in South Laguna around 3:45 Thursday afternoon and asked if he had a cigarette. When the man began to speak with them, one of the pair began to repeatedly punch him in the face. His wallet was grabbed out of his hand and the two fled in a Mercedes with paper plates.

Officers spotted the suspect vehicle northbound on Coast Highway and made a felony car stop in the Circle K parking lot in the 800 block of Glenneyre.

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Photo by Mark Nelson

Police search the suspect’s Mercedes in the Circle K parking lot

Police arrested Jose Victor Zuniga, III, 30, Santa Ana and Brannon Morse Hazelrigg, 25, Newport Beach. Both were charged with felony robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Hazelrigg was also charged with felony battery causing bodily injury and possession of a controlled substance.

Police Files

Halloween jumper from 5th floor deck to private pool

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Submitted photo

Greg Carpenter, Homeowner’s Association President at Laguna Sands in the 1500 block of S. Coast Hwy provided this photo of a young man who jumped from the fifth floor deck there into the private pool below…“barely missing the edge of the pool”. The incident happened at 5:40 p.m. on Monday.

Carpenter said the HOA will prosecute him for trespassing and a police report has been made.

LBPD Sgt. Tim Kleiser said detectives are investigating the report.

A resident reportedly detained the jumper only to be hit in the face as the suspect ran away with four others who were nearby when he jumped, Carpenter said. 

Laguna Beach woman charged with DUI, hit and run

At 10:52 Sunday morning, a 9-1-1 caller told a Laguna Beach public safety dispatcher that as he was getting into his car in the 200 block of Cypress Drive, another vehicle had clipped his car and “…taken out…” the driver’s side door.

Police located the suspect vehicle and arrested Tania Jane Alexander, 57 of Laguna Beach, for DUI with a second offense and misdemeanor hit and run. 

There were no injuries according to the police log.

Police Files

Armed robbery at Union Bank on Broadway

A masked tall man wearing all dark clothing walked up to a teller inside Union Bank on Broadway on Thursday afternoon, brandished a silver revolver and demanded money.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said officers responded right after the robbery but were unable to locate the suspect. “He was described as being about 6’4” wearing a black long sleeved shirt, black pants, a mask and black gloves.”

LBPD detectives and the FBI are jointly investigating the robbery.

Sgt. Kleiser said that about an hour after Union Bank was robbed, a man with a similar description robbed a bank in Seal Beach at gunpoint.

Car stop in the wee hours nets drug dealer

An officer stopped a vehicle at Third Ave and Coast Hwy early Saturday morning and it resulted in the arrest of Anaheim resident Matthew Kundrat, 20, on felony charges of possession of dangerous drugs for sales and transportation of dangerous drugs for sales.

Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said details were slim and the case is still being investigated.

Police Files

Serial roof jumper might be wearing orange jump suit

Remember these?

Our July 18 edition

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Photos by John Thomas

The man who jumped off the roof of the home above at Table Rock Beach in July into the ocean was arrested by LBPD Wednesday morning. Anthony Booth Armer, 28, Laguna Niguel, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of unauthorized entry of a dwelling and one of trespassing with intent to interfere with a business. 

Armer is accused of climbing over a retaining wall onto the gated property of the private residence, climbing onto the roof and jumping into the ocean near Table Rock Beach. Armer posted a video of his jump on YouTube. The Laguna Beach Police Department investigated the incident and the homeowner confirmed that Armer did not have permission to access their property. 

On Sept. 29, Armer is accused of climbing over a wall and accessing employee-only areas of the Surf and Sand Hotel. Authorities say he climbed to the fifth floor of the hotel and jumped into the gated, guest-only pool. Hotel employees reported the event to LBPD. 

On Oct. 6, at approximately 9 a.m., Armer is accused of entering Newport Towers, a private residential building on West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. He is accused of running up several flights of stairs and jumping from the building’s roof to the harbor below. Newport Towers security reported the trespassing to the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD). 

LBPD arrested Armer Wednesday at approximately 7:45 a.m. LBPD and NBPD are investigating this case.

Man, 93, rolled over on High Drive – was still seated when fire dept. arrived   

LBPD photo

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A 93-year-old man was driving this sedan Tuesday afternoon around 4:40 when he lost control at High Drive near Linden Street and rolled over onto the car’s top. The crash remains under investigation. Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said the man was still seat belted upside down when fire personnel arrived on scene. He sustained unspecified injuries and was taken to Mission Trauma Center.


Woman tried to knock down cop as she ran from Gelson’s with vodka

Police responded to Gelson’s Market in South Laguna Tuesday afternoon after a woman who had been told by the manager to stay out of the store forced her way back inside. As an officer approached her, she bolted and tried to push over the officer while holding onto a stolen bottle of vodka.

She was arrested for felony commercial burglary, battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest. The officer was not injured.

Police Files

Criminals really do return to the scene of the crime - sometimes

There’s an old adage that criminals “always return to the scene of the crime.” TV shows are filled with such scenarios.

Research has shown that murderers and arsonists frequently do return to the scene of the crime but most criminals who commit so-called crimes of opportunity usually hightail it away…but, as we learned, not always.

A resident in the 400 block of Cliff Drive found a burglar in his home Sunday morning and managed to chase him off. 

The RP then called police and said the man had broken in through a window after removing the screen.

As he was calling, the suspect came back but when he saw the RP on the phone, he took off running.

Officers located the suspect, identified as Steven Hernandez, 29 of Aliso Viejo, nearby and took him into custody. They found jewelry that belonged to the RP on him. 

Hernandez was charged with felony residential burglary with bail of $50,000.

The 9-1-1 call was received at 7:34 and Hernandez was in handcuffs at 7:45 a.m.

Police Files

Using your driver’s license to scrape drugs is not a smart idea

San Clemente resident Corey David, 29, was pulled over for speeding at S. Coast Hwy and Agate St at 4:10 last Thursday morning. When he handed the police officer his driver’s license, the officer realized that there was drug residue on the license.

David was detained and his car was searched.

8.92 grams of heroin, over a gram of methamphetamine, a small amount of cocaine and 26 hypodermic needles along with an electronic scale were found. 

He was placed under arrest for felony possession of narcotics for sales, felony transportation for sales, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bail was set at $30,000. 

Woman on bicycle injured when hit by car on LCR

An unidentified Laguna Beach woman suffered injuries to her shoulder, hip and ankle when a car struck the rear wheel of her bicycle in the 20600 block of Laguna Canyon Road at 7:07 Thursday morning.

Details were limited but Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said it did not appear that alcohol was a factor in the collision.

The crash remains under investigation, he said. 

Body found on Cliff Drive Saturday morning

A caller reported that a man appeared to be passed out in a vacant lot in the 1300 block of Cliff Drive at 11:48 Saturday morning. According to the police log, there were several liquor bottles near him.

An officer arrived on scene and realized the man was deceased.

The OC Coroner responded and nothing suspicious was found Sgt. Tim Kleiser of the LBPD said Monday.

The 52-year-old man’s name has not been released.

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