Family and friends remembered the 30-year-old man who died in a double stabbing outside the Glendale courthouse as a loving man with a huge heart as they continued to grapple with the puzzling circumstances of his death.
Minas Arutyunyan had been expected to survive the Sept. 28 attack and had even spoken with his family in the hospital after undergoing surgery, but he succumbed to his injuries the following day.
The 2003 Glendale High School graduate was walking near the courthouse early that morning while working at a nearby banquet hall assembling and dissembling equipment, something he routinely did for entertainers and disc jockeys within the local Armenian community, according to his friends.
It was just before 2 a.m. when a man, identified by police as 57-year-old Alex Littlejohn, came at him with a knife, unprovoked, and stabbed him in the chest.
“When that happened, he looked at him,” said the victim’s 26-year-old brother, Hayk Arutyunyan. “He said, ‘Why?’”
He tried to run away, but after getting stabbed again, he fought back. After stabbing his attacker, who died at the scene, Minas Arutyunyan was able to walk to the Glendale Police Station, where he used the call box to ask dispatchers for help.
Minas Arutyunyan had been shaken by what had happened, but his younger brother assured him that everything would be OK.
“I’m puzzled. I’m just trying to connect everything,” Hayk Arutyunyan said Monday evening during a candlelight vigil at Glendale High School. “It doesn’t make sense. From the time it happened, to the time he was put in the hospital, to the time of his passing. It doesn’t make sense at all.”
The vigil drew about 10 people, mostly former classmates, to Minas Arutyunyan’s alma mater, where they stood silently in a circle and held candles near a bench at the edge of the high school quad, where he was known to hang out between classes.
In the same quad, he’d also serenade classmates with his violin, an instrument he played since he was a boy, friends recalled. He also played on the school’s water polo team.
“He was a guy that just wanted to enjoy life, and just do what he wanted to do as far as helping people. That’s what he mostly did,” Hayk Arutyunyan said, adding that with one look at his older brother, he would forget all his problems, even on his worst days.
Also at the vigil was Ando Baloyan, a classmate of Minas Arutyunyan’s since the two were students at Horace Mann Elementary.
“He was the nicest guy ever,” he said.
The last time he saw his friend, it was April. Minas Arutyunyan was setting up sound equipment for the Armenian Genocide centennial march in Hollywood.
Many of his former classmates said they were shocked to learn their friend was a victim of such violence within Glendale’s borders.
“It was very shocking that it happened to an individual like that. He wasn’t a troublemaker. It’s surreal,” Baloyan said.
Hyka Galadzhyan, also a former classmate, would talk on the phone with Minas Arutyunyan every two or three months to catch up on life. Or, she’d see him every now and then setting up sound equipment at local engagement parties or weddings.
The first time Galadzhyan met him, they were students at Roosevelt Middle School and attending a dance in the school’s gym.
Minas Arutyunyan had asked a girl to dance, but she declined in a rude way, so Galadzhyan offered to dance with him, and they did.
Over the years, their friendship grew, and on the phone, he would talk about wanting to go back to school, complain about being single and dream of getting married someday. Galadzhyan assured him that he would find the right woman to marry.
When she heard the news that he had died, she couldn’t believe it.
“It just made no sense,” she said.
A viewing ceremony will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Red Church at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.