Crime in Glendale, California

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Crime in Glendale, California:

Glendale police officers took on bootleggers and airmen in the 1920s, a decade when the department had both a "liquor detail" and an "air policeman" charged with citing pilots for flying violations committed over the city. In 1944, the Glendale city manager took on Police Chief V.B. Browne over suspected officer corruption, and Browne was asked to resign for failing to control his staff. But Browne asked to stay on as a patrolman, and he walked a beat until his retirement in 1948.

Glendale lost four police officers in the line of duty. The first officer in the area killed in the line of duty was Charles Whitney Smith, marshal for the city of Tropico, later annexed by Glendale. Smith had already been told he was fired, but he wanted to finish his day. So on his last day, Jan. 9, 1915, he was shot to death when he tried to stop a robbery suspect on a street car.

Glendale police officer Leslie O. Clem was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1926 while pursuing a suspect's car. During the course of the pursuit his motorcycle struck streetcar tracks, causing Officer Clem to be thrown from the bike. He succumbed to his injuries the next day.

In 1946, California Highway Patrolman Loren C. Roosevelt stopped a speeding vehicle on Los Feliz Boulevard when he was shot nine times by Erwin Walker, an Army veteran and former Glendale Police Department employee.[1] Officer Roosevelt later died of his wounds.

In 1972, Glendale police officer John Isaacson was killed in an automobile accident while on duty.

In 1997, Charles Lazzaretto became the first Glendale police officer in 25 years to die in the line of duty when an attempted-murder suspect, holed up in a Chatsworth warehouse, shot Lazzaretto in the head. In the ensuing gunfight two Los Angeles police officers were wounded, and the suspect, Israel Gonzalez, committed suicide.[2]

In 1985, "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez terrorized the Los Angeles area, including Glendale. He was linked to the death of Max Kneiding and his wife, Lela Ellen, who were shot to death in their Glendale home. Ramirez also was later linked to a slaying just south of Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park. In an earlier case, Angelo Buono, a Glendale auto upholsterer, was convicted of sexually torturing and murdering nine women whose bodies were dumped on Los Angeles-area hillsides in 1977 and 1978.

In June 1990, an arson fire damaged or destroyed 64 homes in Glendale's San Rafael Hills and caused $40 million in damage. Evening rush-hour traffic was brought to a halt at the height of the fire as flames burned on both sides of the Glendale Freeway. The 100-acre (0.40 km2) fire, one of the worst in the city's history, resulted in flames leapfrogging from house to house, destroying some, leaving others untouched. After the devastating fire, the Glendale City Council passed a brush-clearing ordinance that called for more frequent inspection of private property by fire officials, and it allowed firefighters to cut back overgrown brush on private property and charge owners for the work.

On February 6, 1996, seven people were killed in the worst arson-murder in the city's history. The fire killed a Glendale mother, Turan Avanesian, and her six children, from ages 4 to 17. Jorjik Avanesian, who was convicted of dousing his family's one-bedroom apartment in Glendale with gasoline and setting it on fire, later killed himself in jail.

In 2005, 11 people died and about 180 were injured in a Metrolink (Southern California) train accident when a man who later claimed he was suicidal parked his sport utility vehicle on the tracks in Glendale. The driver was convicted of murder.


Glendale was once home to more than 30 different gangs. Gang violence peaked in the '90s. Over time, the numbers have dropped significantly, and now there are only five documented gangs in the city.[3] Gang activity is primarily located in the low-income, Hispanic area of South Glendale, bordering the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, and Glassell Park. Historically, South Glendale is claimed by the Mexican gang Tooner Ville Rifa. The gang's ongoing attempt to control this area has led to turf wars between it and rival gangs from the bordering cities. Even the arrest and conviction of one of the gang's leaders has done little to stop gang activity. The problem has pushed Glendale and Los Angeles city officials to seek an injunction against the gang, covering 4.5 square miles (12 km2). This area is bordered by the Los Angeles River, the Glendale Freeway, and the streets of Broadway and Verdugo Road.[4] In 2009, TVR was listed as one of LAPD's top 14 targeted street gangs.[5]

Another primary source of Glendale's gang problem is the Avenues gang, which has also been listed as one of the LAPD's top 14 targeted street gangs. On June 25, 2008, over 500 officers, including SWAT teams, participated in a take-down of the gang. A clique leader was arrested in the 900 block of East Windsor in South Glendale.[6]