Memorable 2016 Events in Long Beach

By: 
Steve Propes
A 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, LBPD K-9 Credo was struck and killed by shots from an officer’s weapon as was the suspect on June 28 in the 2800 Block of 14th Street.

Several significant happenings in Long Beach of 2016 centered around grass and trees. Like the trees that toppled on the first day of February when high winds blew through East Long Beach. On 23rd St., near the F&M Bank, a large sycamore tree fell, destroyed two vehicles and trapped a man. Fire pulled him out, uninjured. Later, a tree at the north side of Heartwell Park collapsed atop a house directly across Parkcrest Street, with little damage to the structure, owing to the bigger tree being caught by smaller trees on the lawn of the affected house.

What started out as an ambitious plan to fundamentally change Heartwell Park landscaping met such resistance from neighbors that Fifth District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo opted to only upgrade the 60-year-old irrigation system. In July, the parks department proffered an "emergency tree removal" program from Heartwell, calling dead, diseased or dying trees "a public threat." Many trees have since vanished.

A nearby park gained a wall: namely the post-911 Honoring Our Fallen Memorial Wall launched on Memorial Day at Rosie the Riveter Park with the names of 6,864 service members from private donations of around $55,000. Fifteen of the dead are from Long Beach. The last name on the memorial at Clark Avenue and Conant Street was Petty Officer First Class Charles Keating IV, a Navy SEAL killed in Iraq fighting the self-described Islamic State on May 3.

Three senior citizen barbers were trapped behind a Chevrolet Tahoe that crashed into Sutton's Barber Shop at Del Amo and Bellflower on Feb. 2.  Police arrested the driver on suspicion of DUI. Shop owner, Jeff Sutton, who suffered minor injuries said, "I've known the man for 17 years." This time, he came back in reverse at a high rate of speed and wrecked the shop. The shop reopened in late April, but business has not been the same. Only one of the two badly injured barbers have returned.  "The shop used to produce four incomes, now it's only two. We're only good when we're here. Even I had to go find a new barber."

Any member of the public thinking of visiting the newly opened East Division Police station at 3800 E. Willow Street, well, don't. What appears to be a facility closed to the public is exactly that, except for special events like a limited public tour, with long lines down the side of the building. Just about every council person and many in the command staff attended the mid February ribbon cutting, except the mayor, for the impressive photo opp.

A police death occurred on June 28. Not to an officer, but to police K-9 Credo in the middle of a confrontation with a knife-wielding suspect at the 2800 block of 14th Street.

A 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, Credo was struck and killed by shots from an officer’s weapon as was the suspect.

In the evening of August 6, 26-year-old Carina Mancera was returning home at Ninth Street and Locust Avenue with her 4-year-old daughter, Jennabel Anaya. An assailant emerged and fired on them. Both Mancera and Anaya died. After a diligent investigation,  a 22-year-old suspect from Tulsa, Oklahoma was arrested for the double murder.

On September 13, Charlene Ventanilla, 36 apparently stabbed her 8-week-old baby boy, Shane Ventanilla to death, and then killed herself at 6:30 a.m. in their home at the 1500 block of Park Avenue. On November 21, Greta Kurian, 22, and her husband 25-year-old Kyle Kurian both sustained gunshot wounds to their upper bodies at the 1000 block of Park Avenue. Kyle Kurian, recently hired by the South Gate Police Department died the next day. Police are investigating the deaths as a possible murder suicide. Daughters, three and one-year-old were not hurt.

The hotly contested U.S. presidential race barely touched the greater Long Beach area. Donald Trump spoke in Costa Mesa. Bernie Sanders addressed a rally of 20,000 in at the Stub Hub Center in Carson. On June 6, Hillary Clinton spoke at the Long Beach City College gym. Only about 850 in the long line outside made it in and several protesters were escorted out during her speech. She was introduced by Mayor Robert Garcia, with other officials and mayor's staff also on hand.

The Nov. 7 Electoral College victory of "law and order" candidate Trump didn't faze the backers of Proposition MM, legalizing the sale of medical marijuana in Long Beach, though not federally.

On election night, backers of MM celebrated at the Stave on the Promenade and even danced in the street with local politicos. Backers of the winning city-sponsored MA were more restrained. The 49rs Tavern near CSULB, owned by a Trump partisan also held an election night party, which filled the bar. The weekend after the election, about 500 anti-Donald Trump protesters marched from Bixby Park to downtown, then back again. There was one arrest.

steve@beachcomber.news

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