Garo Kuredjian squatted down next to a Los Angeles County memoriam police car parked on top of a grassy area at the intersection of Pico Canyon Road and Stevenson Ranch Parkway.
He scanned the names printed in red on the side of the car. He stopped and pointed at one.
“DS. Hagop Jake Kuredjian,” his brother.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station began its 24-hour standing guard vigil for Deputy Jake Kuredjian at 9 a.m. on Thursday, marking 22 years since he died in a shootout in Stevenson Ranch.
“Jake’s passing is a difficult reminder of the dangers of this job,” said Capt. Justin Diez of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, “but fear not. You certainly have a guardian angel watching over you.”
Jake Kuredjian served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for 17 years before Aug. 31, 2001.
Jake had been responding to a call for backup in regards to an active shooter. A deputy and United States marshals were attempting to serve a search warrant at a home on Brooks Circle, near Thackery Lane. The homeowner was suspected of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and impersonating a police officer.
The suspect refused to go outside.
Officers attempted to gain entry through a window. The suspect opened fire with an automatic rifle and fatally struck Jake Kuredjian in the head.
A plaque was placed at the intersection of Pico Canyon Road and Stevenson Ranch Parkway commemorating his death and honoring his memory.
“Jake was killed in the line of duty not far from this location and every year, department members past and present, community members, families, friends, even strangers come to this memorial for three powerful reasons,” said Diez. “One: We’re here to pay our respects to Jake. Two: We’re here to mourn his passing. Three: certainly, we’re here to celebrate his life, maybe tell a fun story or two about Jake.”
Dozens of members of the SCV Sheriff’s Station gathered around the plaque, which also is 0.8 miles away from Jake Kuredjian Park. Two stood on either side of the plaque, standing guard. Three sets of horses and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Mounted Posse stood by. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter flew over, sounding off its sirens and flashing its lights.
After 22 years, Garo Kuredjian remains touched after all that is done for his older brother.
“It means so much to us that the sheriff’s office in the community continues to remember him for us,” said Garo. “Keeping his memory alive means the world to us, so doing these type of commemorative events where the deputies are here in Class A uniforms, where they’re standing in front of the memorial there, it means so much to us because it’s another story told about it.”
Garo is a commander in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. He said that the whole reason he signed up to serve in law enforcement was because of Jake.
“Jake was always a role model,” said Garo. “He was older, a lot older than me, and so I wanted to follow in his footsteps in becoming a deputy. He was always someone that loved life. He loved what he did. He absolutely loved being a deputy sheriff. He was the thing that would encapsulate it, my role model.”
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 92 to “designate the portion of Interstate 5 between the Pico-Lyons Overcrossing and the McBean Parkway Overcrossing in the city of Santa Clarita,” according to the text of the legislation, making it the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian Memorial Highway in June 2023.
The most recent update on ACR 92 is that on Aug. 23 it was referred to the state Senate Transportation Committee.
Garo hopes for Jake’s story to be shared, heard and spread. The sign on the freeway would mark another memory made and keep his memory alive.
“He loved life,” said Garo. “He loved his fellow humans and he lived every minute. Full, his life was full.”
Garo added: “Be kind to your neighbors, love your family and just embrace it. You don’t know if you’re gonna have tomorrow.”