Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office.
Three Long Beach residents were among a group of courageous citizens honored by the Los Angeles County District Attorney Wednesday at the Queen Mary for their part in assisting victims and helping capture and prosecute criminals in Long Beach and Willowbrook.
“What our honorees did was not easy,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said during the Courageous Citizen Awards ceremony aboard the ship. “These brave people chose to act. They saved lives and helped stop criminals. By honoring them today, we repay their courage in a small way.”
The honorees included two women who saved a neighbor bludgeoned by a bat-wielding man, two women and a man who aided an elderly person randomly attacked and followed his assailant until authorities arrested him and a Metro employee who stopped a man assaulting a woman at a Willowbrook train station.
In what became a highly publicized case about a murder-for-hire plot, Lakewood resident Debbie Carr, 66, and 45-year-old Noelle van Deursen of Long Beach came to the aid of an elderly Long Beach woman when they heard the woman’s cries for help on October 11, 2013. The victim—who was found severely beaten—was the target of a murder-for-hire plot by her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend.
“They assisted the victim while she told them about the attack,” officials said in a statement. “Their quick action helped save the woman’s life, and their statements helped police arrest the daughter, her boyfriend and the man hired to kill the victim.”
In Spring 2016, Holly Ramos and her boyfriend Frank Haverly were each sentenced to 31 years to life in prison. Keith Phillips, the hired hit-man, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Long Beach residents Amber Goebel, 38, and Luis Enrique Vieyra, 39, as well as 37-year-old Laura Astrin of Seal Beach helped a 74-year-old man who was hit in the head and knocked down by a 24-year-old man for no apparent reason, according to officials.
The elderly victim was blind in one eye and using a walker when he was attacked while walking on a Long Beach train platform on May 7, 2015, officials stated. Goebel and Vieyra, who saw the attack, stayed with the victim until paramedics arrived. Astrin called 9-1-1 and followed the suspect.
“Officers apprehended the assailant based on information Ms. Astin provided,” officials stated. “Ms. Astrin, Ms. Goebel and Mr. Vieyra were crucial in securing a conviction in the case.”
This February, the defendant was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading no contest to battery with serious bodily injury.
On June 4, 2015, Lawrence Sears, 57, was working as a custodian at a Green Light Metro station in Willowbrook when he saw a man struggling with a woman over her purse, according to officials.
“As the man began to punch the woman in the face, Mr. Sears intervened, placing himself between the woman and her assailant,” officials stated. “The defendant continued his assault, trying to fight off Mr. Sears while also attempting to grab the victim’s purse.”
The man then focused his attack on Sears, a Los Angeles resident. Sears was able to protect himself using a trash-picker and ultimately tackled and restrained the defendant until a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD) deputy arrived at the scene.
On August 4, 2015 the defendant pleaded no contest to two counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and one count of assault and battery, according to officials. He was sentenced to two years in state prison three months later.
The luncheon ceremony for the honorees was held as part of the Rotary Club of Long Beach meeting aboard the Queen Mary.