Timeline: Notable Events That Shaped 2021 in Southern California

Take a look back at 2021 in Southern California.

Before ringing in the new year, we're reflecting on 2021 and the events in Southern California that made us laugh, cry, cheer with unbridled joy and sigh in disbelief and frustration over the past 12 months.

Some seem like they could have happened yesterday. Others may have already faded into the haze that builds as the months pass.

Below, a timeline of some of the notable events that were part of what defined 2021 in Southern California.


Jan. 7: Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda dies at age 93.

Jan. 18: A masked Mandalorian turns heads in the San Fernando Valley. We caught up with the skateboarding man behind the mask.

The series, The Mandalorian, continues to capture audiences, but we spotted a local Mandalorian who is building his own fan base on the streets of LA. NBC4's Hetty Chang and photojournalist Sean Browning report Jan. 17, 2021.

Jan. 20: Alex Padilla becomes the first Latino to represent California in the U.S Senate. 

Jan. 24: California lifts its regional stay-at-home order, returning to restrictions determined at the county level.

Jan. 31: Former first-round draft pick Jared Goff is traded by the Rams to Detroit in a quarterback swap for Matthew Stafford


Feb. 2: In one of the year’s longest and strangest chases, a driver led police on a slow-speed pursuit that lasted about six hours

Feb. 15. Elementary schools in Los Angeles are cleared to reopen for the first time in nearly one year. 

Feb. 18: NASA’s Perseverance rover touches down on Mars in a mission managed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. 

Feb. 24: A man walking French bulldogs owned by Lady Gaga is shot when thieves target the dogs on a Hollywood sidewalk. Ryan Fischer later shared an update about the encounter and his recovery. Five people face charges.

NASA shared footage captured by the Perseverance rover as it landed on Mars last week.

Feb 23: Golf great Tiger Woods is seriously injured in a high-speed SUV rollover crash in Rancho Palos Verdes. 


March 14: Beyoncé wins her 28th Grammy, more than any other female artist. 

March 16: Two people are killed in a powerful fireworks blast that rattled an Ontario neighborhood.

At least two people were killed in the explosions and the neighborhood was evacuated. Hetty Chang and Gil Leyvas reported on NBC4 News on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

March 31: Four people, including a 9-year-old boy, are killed in a shooting at an Orange office park. The suspected shooter is later charged with murder.


April 3: In the semifinal against Gonzaga, UCLA was on the precipice of an upset before Jalen Suggs hit a buzzer-beater from half court to knock the Bruins out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

April 9: The World Series champion Dodgers play in front of a crowd after a season without fans in the stadium due to the pandemic. 

April 26: The petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom collects enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

April 30: Disneyland reopens after a more than year-long closure due to the pandemic. 

The happiest place on earth has reopened on both sides of Harbor Boulevard, inside the park, but also outside where businesses are reopening. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 4 p.m. on April 30, 2021.


May 15: More than a year after his death in a helicopter crash, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant is inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame

May 21: The search begins for a shooter who opened fire at another car on the 55 Freeway in Orange County, killing 6-year-old Aiden Leos. A man and woman are later arrested and charged in the road rage shooting.


June 1: An off-duty firefighter opens fire at a fire station north of Los Angeles, killing a 44-year-old member of the LA County Fire Department.

June 1: Bear sightings aren't unusual in San Gabriel Valley foothill communities. What happened after this dog mom encountered a mama bear on a backyard wall is a wild animal encounter to remember.

Surveillance video footage shows a teen in Southern California shoving a bear off a low wall behind her house to protect her four dogs over the Memorial Day weekend.

June 4: A federal judge overturns California’s ban on assault weapons. 

June 18: California announces a system that provides a digital copy of residents’ COVID vaccination cards. 

June 23: About 40 cows stampede through a Pico Rivera neighborhood after breaking free from a slaughterhouse. Only one cow manages to escape the roundup, finding a new home at Southland Farm Sanctuary.

Forty cows escaped from a meat packing plant and stampeded through a neighborhood. Michelle Valles reports for Today in LA at 6 a.m.

June 30: A powerful explosion during a bomb squad illegal fireworks disposal operation goes horribly wrong in a South Los Angeles neighborhood. Seventeen people are injured and nearby homes and businesses are damaged in the blast caused by an overloaded bomb squad detonation chamber.

A fireworks blast hurt 17 people during a seizure by law enforcement in South LA. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, July 1, 2021.


July 1: The Los Angeles City Council passes restrictions on homeless encampments in certain parts of the city. 

July 1: Dodgers relief pitcher Joe Kelly earns a tip of the cap from Los Angeles when he wears a mariachi jacket to the White House. Kelly received the jacket from a Mariachi Garibaldi trumpet player in a well-negotiated trade at Dodger Stadium.

Joe Kelly traded his Dodgers jersey for a mariachi jacket. Video broadcast Thursday July 1, 2021 on the NBC4 News at 11 a.m.

July 11: Lake Mead, a significant part of California’s water supply system, reaches critically low levels. 

July 19: One month after California lifted most pandemic restrictions, allowing many businesses to reopen, LA County announces a mask requirement for indoor public spaces.

July 23: Southern California athletes compete in the Tokyo Olympics after the global event was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. 

July 27: Nineteen-year-old TikTok star Anthony Barajas and friend Rylee Goodrich, 18, are shot in a Corona movie theater. Goodrich dies at the scene. Barajas dies later a hospital. A man is charged in connection with the attack.


Aug. 6: The Southern California team of April Ross and Alix Klineman win beach volleyball gold in Tokyo. The Olympics is their first as a team.

Aug. 7: Seventeen years after winning her first medal at age 18 in Athens, Los Angeles' Allyson Felix wins her 11th to become the most decorated American in U.S. Olympics history. 

After winning the women’s 4x400m relay on Saturday, the 35-year-old track star surpassed Carl Lewis’s record of 10 medals.

Aug. 14: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood opens to fans for the first time. 

Aug. 16: LAUSD students return to classroom learning for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 

Aug. 26: Three U.S. Marines from Southern California are among the American service members killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, a Norco High School graduate, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Riverside, and Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, from Rancho Cucamonga are killed in a suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.


Sept. 7: In a sight that has become too familiar in 2021, a flight crew is confronted by an unruly -- and growling -- passenger. Video shows what happened on the American Airlines flight from LAX to Salt Lake City.

A man was arrested after becoming belligerent on a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. The outbursts were captured by another passenger on the flight. American Airlines issued a statement saying the police were called to the plane to remove the man after landing.

Sept. 9: Officials order that all public school students 12 and older in Los Angeles must be vaccinated by January to enter campus. 

Sept. 14: Gov. Gavin Newsom soundly defeats the recall effort against him. 

Sept. 20: George Holliday, who recorded the beating of Rodney King from the balcony of his apartment in 1991, dies due to complications from COVID.

Sept 27: Mona Rodriguez, 18, is shot by a school safety officer in Long Beach. Rodriguez, a passenger in a car at the time, later dies at a hospital. The officer is charged in connection with the shooting.

The Los Angeles district attorney announced the murder charge after the shooting was caught on camera in September. John Cadiz Klemack reports Oct. 27, 2021

Sept. 30: Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill to help transfer a Manhattan Beach property to descendants of a Black couple stripped of their resort amid racist harassment a century ago.


Oct. 1: Gov. Gavin Newsom announces a COVID vaccines are mandated in California for eligible children in a first-of-its-kind measure. Some school districts already had a mandate in place.

Oct. 2: An oil spill from a broken offshore pipeline fouls the water off the coast of Newport Beach.

Oct. 13: President Biden announces that the Port of Los Angeles will operate around the clock to alleviate supply chain problems.

Oct. 21: Hollywood mourns cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killed when a prop gun being used by actor/producer Alec Baldwin discharges on a New Mexico film set.


Nov. 1: In a mystery that captivated SoCal, pictures finally offer revealing clues about the reported 'Jet Pack Man' seen floating near LAX.

The LAPD released an image of the jetpack man seen over LAX. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.

Nov. 3: An unusual chase involving a stolen big rig went on for about eight hours through three Southern California counties before ending in a freeway standoff.

Nov. 12: A Los Angeles judge terminates the conservatorship that had governed Britney Spears life for 13 years.

Nov. 16: It is announced that Staples Center will be renamed Crypto.com Arena.

Nov. 18: Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani wins the AL MVP award after one of the most amazing seasons in MLB history. 


Dec. 1: Los Angeles philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, wife of famed entertainment exec Clarence Avant, is shot and killed at the couple's Beverly Hills home. A suspect is arrested hours later in Hollywood after accidentally shooting himself in the foot.

Dec. 2: The first case of the coronavirus omicron variant is detected in Los Angeles County. Case numbers rise in an early winter surge.

Dec. 12: Mexican singer Vicente Fernández, one of Mexico's most recognizable and cultural icons, dies at age 81.

Mexican singer and actor Vicente Fernández, known as “the King of the Rancheras” is dead at 81.

Dec. 13: California orders a statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces due to rising COVID cases.

Dec. 14: Early winter storms pound the region and break a 133-year-old rainfall record in Los Angeles.

Dec. 23: A 14-year-old girl in a dressing room is struck and killed by a stray bullet during a chaotic confrontation between police and a man who was attacking people inside a Burlington store in North Hollywood.

Year in Review: Southern California 2021 Images in the News

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