Slain deputy remembered 18 years later

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Deputies Sigi Sandoval, left, and Steven Jagiello salute during the deputy shift change at the memorial for slain Santa Clarita Sheriff's Deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian at the 24 hour memorial for his death in 2001 which was held in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday. 083119. Dan Watson/The Signal
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For 24 hours on Saturday, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials stood watch in remembrance of Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, who was shot and killed in the line of duty. 

Saturday marked 18 years since Kuredjian made the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Sheriff’s officials took turns standing at attention at the monument dedicated to Kuredjian, in honor of that sacrifice. 

“Every 15 minutes, at least two deputies, sometimes four, (rotate),” said Deputy Mike Miller. “He came before us — it’s just our way to honor him and keep his legacy alive.”

Santa Claria Sheriff’s Deputies observe a moment of silence for slain Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, during the 24 hour memorial of Kuredjian’s death in 2001 which was held in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday. 083119. Dan Watson/The Signal

Following a moment of silence, Capt. Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station spoke to deputies at the memorial, calling the commemoration a reminder of the important work they do.

In addition to the numerous officers who came to pay their respects, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Mounted Enforcement Detail also took a turn standing watch. 

All on-duty deputies assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station also wore long-sleeve class “A” uniforms with a tie Saturday as a tribute to their fallen comrade, according to a Nixle statement from Sheriff’s Department officials.

“The public has been awesome,” Miller added. “People are dropping of flowers, food and water.” 

The badge of L.A. Sheriff’s Department Captain Robert Lewis is draped with a black ribbon in honor of fallen Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian at the 24 hour memorial for Kuredjian of his death in 2001 held in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday. 083119. Dan Watson/The Signal

Many officers participated in the memorial service, including a few who knew Kuredjian personally.

“I worked with him for the federal task force wire room because we both speak Armenian,” said Gary Kasbarian, an officer and reserve deputy with L.A. County. “He was a very fun guy to work with, charming. He always brightened the room when he came in. We always had a good time.”

The engraved monument, located at the corner of Stevenson Ranch Parkway and Poe Parkway, serves not only as a reminder to the community of Kuredjian’s sacrifice, but also as a way to keep his memory alive.

The monument, which was unveiled on Nov. 1, 2001, is not the only location in Stevenson Ranch dedicated to Kuredjian. On Oct. 6, 2004, a ceremony took place to dedicate Jake Kuredjian Park to further honor his memory, along with Deputy Jake Drive off of Valle Del Oro in Newhall. 

Chris Quinn wipes his eyes after placing flowers at the memorial for his friend, slain Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, during the 24 hour memorial for Kuredjian’s death in 2001 which was held in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday. 083119. Dan Watson/The Signal

40-year-old Kuredjian was a 17-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department and had been assigned to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station since 1995.

On the morning of his death, he responded to his last call: reports of “shots fired” in Stevenson Ranch, where agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were serving a search warrant to a man for impersonating a police officer and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials.

When he arrived, Kuredjian found a suspect barricaded in his home, keeping “law enforcement officers at bay with a bevy of shots,” according to previous reports.

After several hours and hundreds of shots fired by the suspect, officers attempted to gain entry through a window, causing the man to open fire with an automatic rifle and Kuredjian to be struck in the head.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Deputy J. McKay, left, and Alysia Matherly stand vigil at the 24 hour memorial for slain Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian which was held in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday. 083119. Dan Watson/The Signal

More than 5,000 attended Kuredjian’s funeral services, including then-Gov. Gray Davis and then-Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

“He was a great guy, and had lots of friends,” Lt. Ignacio Somoano of the SCV Sheriff Station’s Detective Unit said in a previous Signal interview. “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.”

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 Malibu.

“His courage and sacrifice will be forever remembered,” read a post on the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Facebook page Friday. “Please say a prayer tonight for our deputies, and all of law enforcement, as they go to work each day saying goodbye to their families, not knowing if it will be their last. As always, thank you for the strong support that you give us — it really means a lot.”

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