Christmas Eve Crime Keeps Police Busy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Usually, the overnight shift for a police watch commander on Christmas Eve is a dull, monotonous job of having officers deal with routine arrests for drunkenness and bar fights.

But not this year in Santa Ana, Anaheim and La Palma, where assaults, family fights and shootings filled up the night log.

"We just had a lot of disturbances. We had two pages of computer screens filled with calls waiting to be dispatched but couldn't send anybody because all our officers were busy," said Anaheim Police Sgt. Paul Mundt.

Santa Ana Police Sgt. Bill Ehart said it was one of the busiest overnights he's been through this year.

"It was very busy. Very, very busy," Ehart said, with fatigue in his voice. "Hardly any of our guys on the shift had any lunch, because we just couldn't stay ahead of it."

According to Ehart's police log, Christmas Eve--or Nochebuena, as it's called by Latinos, who make up 65% of the city's population--began slow. Until midnight. Then the calls started to flood in, Ehart said.

Santa Ana police received 393 emergency 911 calls between midnight and 5 a.m., Ehart said.

"And that's not counting all our other calls that come in on the other lines," he noted.

Glancing at the log, Ehart said it was clear that quite a few of the city's 293,742 residents didn't spend the night wrapping Christmas gifts.

"Let's see, we had one minor shooting, property damage due to gunshots, assaults, many, many family fights, accidents. . . . Well, you name it, and we had it. Well, almost everything, except a murder," he said.

One death was reported on Christmas Day, involving a 21-year-old man who drank too much alcohol, became sick and was found dead, Ehart said.

"We do not have his ID yet. He apparently attended a party (Thursday) night and was partying all night. His body was found (Friday) morning," he said.

The cause of death was under investigation by the county coroner's office.

In La Palma, a 54-year-old woman was wounded when her husband allegedly shot her while she was in bed, police said.

Sgt. Mark Yokoyama said that Richard L. Siggers, 65, was arrested after he allegedly fired several shots at his wife, Shirley, about 2 a.m. Friday.

Police had no motive for the shooting.

The victim was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where she was in good condition.

The suspect was taken to Orange County Jail.

In Anaheim, Mundt said, the holiday didn't deter several suspected gang members from shooting Gerardo Bederra, 21, of Anaheim while he was getting out of a car on Christmas Eve in the 1200 block of North Placentia Avenue.

Mundt said two suspects walked up to Bederra, yelled some gang slogans and opened fire, striking him three times.

The wounded man was taken to an Anaheim hospital and was in stable condition, Mundt said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
60°