Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials stood watch all day in remembrance of Deputy Jake Kuredjian, a Saugus man who was killed in the line of duty 17 years ago Friday.
Deputy Hagop ‘Jake’ Kuredjian, 40, was killed Aug. 31, 2001, while serving and protecting the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Kuredjian was fatally shot after responding to a call of “shots fired” in Stevenson Ranch, where Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents were serving a search warrant, according to Sheriff’s Department officials.
Kuredjian was a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department when he responded to the call at James Allen Beck’s Stevenson Ranch home as federal agents served the warrant, in response to suspicions that Beck was stockpiling weapons and impersonating a U.S. marshall, according to previous Signal reports.
Kuredjian arrived at the Brooks Circle home sometime before 9 a.m., and Beck was keeping “law enforcement officers at bay with a bevy of shots fired from his home,” according to previous reports.
When officers arrived at the residence, Beck came to the door several times but refused to go outside, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page for Kuredjian. The suspect then held other officers at bay for several hours before his house caught fire and burned to the ground.
Beck fired a total of 150 shots. Kuredjian crouched behind a red sports utility vehicle for safety as Beck sprayed the street with bullets.
As the officers attempted to gain entry through a window, the man opened fire with an automatic rifle, striking Deputy Kuredjian in the head.
Kuredjian was laid to rest Sept. 5, 2001. More than 5,000 people attended the funeral services, including then-Gov. Gray Davis and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.
Those who knew him spoke highly of his affable nature, remembering him as “a good partner and a friend.”
Lt. Ignacio Somoano, lieutenant of the SCV Sheriff Station’s Detective Unit, was working in the SCV at the time of Kuredjian’s murder as a detective on the station’s robbery and assault team.
“He was a great guy, and had lots of friends,” Somoano said. “Away from work, I would see him at the gym, and he’s someone who was always physically fit — just a good partner and friend.”
Gail Quinn, who lived on the same street as Kuredjian, recalled how he was always friendly, joking around and a great neighbor.
“He loved playing with the neighborhood children; we always joked and played around with them,” Quinn said.
An avid motorcyclist who had served in many other capacities at the station, was assigned as a motor officer in the SCV for six months prior to his death.
In 1989, Kuredjian was awarded the Sheriff’s Department’s Gold Meritorious Conduct Medal by former Sheriff Sherman Block for saving the life of a woman clinging to a small tree branch atop a cliff in the city of Malibu.
“Helping others was something that came naturally to Jake and that was what he was doing at the very moment he was so tragically taken from us all,” said SCV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Robert Lewis, who personally knew Kuredjian, in a statement from the station.“We mourn his loss, along with the many other people in our community whose lives were touched by Jake.”