6 Citizens Honored for Heroic Deeds

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County district attorney honored six citizens Thursday for risking their lives to help solve violent crimes, including a Canoga Park hairstylist who confronted and chased two men beating a jewelry store owner.

Rooney Regalado of Canoga Park; Enrique and Mialagro Zuniga, Todd Gunzelman and Chad Robinson, all of North Hollywood; and Lara De Ann, formerly of Agoura, received Courageous Citizens Awards at a luncheon in Granada Hills.

“The awards are given to commend those individuals who have acted at considerable personal risk to help a victim of crime, assist in the capture of a suspect or testify in the face of extraordinary pressures,” said Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, addressing the honorees and Northridge Kiwanis Club members, who sponsored the ceremony.

Regalado was honored for an incident in which he saw two men beating a jewelry store owner next door to his Northridge salon and chased the suspects as they ran away.


“It’s not every day that a hairstylist helps apprehend dangerous criminals, but Rooney, a former bouncer, is not your typical hairstylist,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robin Allen.

Regalado saw one of the men toss what appeared to be a gun into the bushes but continued to chase them, Allen said.

He flagged down a police car and pointed out one of the suspects, who was arrested.

With the help of Regalado’s testimony, Allen said, Gaik Papazyan was convicted of murder and sentenced in July to 25 years to life.

“I only found out afterward that he had a gun and a knife,” Regalado said after receiving his award.

“It’s a scary afterthought.”

The Zunigas were honored for stopping their car and rushing to help a 19-year-old woman being beaten by a male attacker in September, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrea Thompson.

Enrique Zuniga, a former high school wrestler, chased the man into a nearby parking lot, placed him in a headlock and held him until police arrived, Thompson said.


Meanwhile, Mialagro escorted the woman to where Enrique Zuniga was holding the attacker so she could identify him for police.

The suspect, Kevin Lopez, has been charged with attempted rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment and is awaiting trial, Thompson said.

De Ann helped solve a gruesome slaying when she informed Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies that she had seen a man throw an object down a deep ravine as she walked along Mulholland Highway in October 1998.

Investigators later discovered a man’s decapitated body in the rugged terrain, Thompson said.


The quick recovery of the body enabled investigators to establish the victim’s identity and follow evidence that led to the murder conviction of Jeffrey Fecht, who was sentenced in March 2001 to life in prison without parole.

After hearing a loud noise coming from a unit in their North Hollywood apartment building last January, Gunzelman and Robinson confronted a man who had broken into their 88-year-old neighbor’s apartment, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Marie Wise.

Robinson wrestled the man to the ground while Gunzelman called 911. They held the suspect until police arrived.

The perpetrator, Ronald James Sallee, was convicted of residential robbery and burglary, Wise said. A repeat offender, Sallee faces 40 years to life in prison under California’s three-strikes law when he is sentenced next month.


“I never felt like a hero because it didn’t feel like a big deal at the time,” Robinson said, holding an oversized certificate.

“Now they’re making me feel like a hero.”