Citizens Honored for “Extraordinary” Courage

The men were recognized for helping victims -- and law enforcement

One disarmed a knife-wielding attacker, another stopped a violent purse snatcher and a third caught a thief who stole from a mother.

Six courageous citizens were honored Tuesday for their quick, selfless acts that helped victims in Long Beach.

"Each of these Courageous Citizens cast aside fear and risked their personal welfare to help victims of crime," District Attorney Lacey said. "I extend my personal gratitude to this group of remarkable people for these acts of selflessness and bravery."

The lunchtime ceremony was held at The Queen Mary (Grand Salon), and hosted by the Rotary Club of Long Beach.

It was part of an ongoing push by the District Attorney’s office to honor citizens who have “performed extraordinary acts of valor and selflessness in assisting in criminal prosecution, aiding victims, preventing crime and capturing suspects.”

Muhammad Johnson, 36, was recognized for saving an 18-year-old woman who had been repeatedly stabbed by her sister. The victim ran from her apartment for help, but was followed by her attacker.

Awoken by his wife, the Torrance native opened his front door and saw the victim being stabbed. He captured and disarmed the knife-wielding attacker in the early morning hours of Oct. 29, 2011.

The victim’s sister was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She is being held at Patton State Hospital "until her sanity is restored," the DA said.

A trio of formerly unsung heroes captured a man and a juvenile who snatched a gold chain from a woman with a baby in her arms in December 2012.

After hearing the woman scream, Marcelo Vera, 35, of Montclair, and Jason Curiel, 21, of Huntington Park, hopped in their cars and chased the pair. When the attackers split up, they continued pursuing one of them, cornering him until police arrived.

Unknown to them, another witness also ran to help. Jonathan Campos, 30, of Long Beach, saw the attack and ran after the second assailant. Campos tackled the attacker and retrieved the victim’s necklace.

The adult suspect pleaded no contest and was sentenced to two years in state prison in February 2013. The juvenile was sentenced to six months in camp.

Also honored were two Salvation Army truck drivers who tackled a purse snatcher after he dragged a 58-year-old woman across a parking lot.

The victim, who was recovering from breast cancer surgery, was loading groceries into her car when a man grabbed her purse and pulled. He dragged the victim 24 feet before she let go.

Scott Beaubien, 47, of Long Beach, and Mariano Bejarano, 33, of Los Angeles, spotted the victim chasing after her attacker and joined the pursuit. When the purse snatcher tripped, Beaubien and Bejarano caught and held him until police arrived.

The defendant pleaded guilty in November 2011 and was sentenced to two years in state prison.

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