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LOS ANGELES

Park Is Dedicated to Slain Deputy

Stevenson Ranch: Hagop 'Jake' Kuredjian was shot in head during Aug. 31 standoff with former police officer.

November 02, 2001|RICHARD FAUSSET | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Family members, fellow officers and residents gathered Thursday to dedicate a Stevenson Ranch park to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian, who was killed in an August shootout a few blocks away.

Sheriff Lee Baca and other officials unveiled a plaque in Kuredjian's memory at the small, grassy park at Stevenson Ranch and Poe parkways. Kuredjian, a 17-year department veteran, was shot in the head during an Aug. 31 standoff with James Allen Beck, a former Arcadia police officer who died when his house burned to the ground, sheriff's officials said.

Many at Thursday's ceremony said the raw emotions felt in the neighborhood after Kuredjian's death seemed to have presaged the national outpouring of grief after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It seemed like God needed an angel to walk up all the police and firemen who followed him," said Kuredjian's brother Raffi, 39. "And he chose Jake."

Wearing a black suit with a stars-and-stripes lapel pin, Annie Kuredjian, the slain officer's mother, sat with other family members. She cried as Mike Valdez, a pastor at Stevenson Ranch Community Church, offered a prayer.

"My prayer is simply this," Valdez said. "That this . . . will always be a place of peace."

The plaque, with a photo engraving of Kuredjian and his motorcycle, is set in the shade of an oak tree and surrounded by flower beds.

In the audience, neighbor Lesley Reisinger-Green, 46, said the park would be especially appreciated in Stevenson Ranch, home to numerous law enforcement officers.

"The family and Deputy Jake just paid the ultimate price," she said.

Stevenson Ranch resident Don Whaley said he and other neighbors donated about $8,000 to buy and install the plaque. In about three years, he said, developers will build a much larger park--six acres--down the street, and it will also be dedicated to Kuredjian.

Baca gave the family the title to Kuredjian's beloved police motorcycle, saying, "We're all going to meet Jake someday again."

Beck, 35, was an ex-convict under investigation for firearms violations and impersonating a federal agent. He began firing at federal and local authorities after they attempted to serve him with an early morning search warrant, officials said.

Kuredjian was shot almost as soon as he arrived at the scene.

During the siege, Beck's house on Brooks Circle caught fire. All that remains is a clean concrete slab and a jutting, rusted beam. A no-trespassing sign is posted in front.

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