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Echoes of 1992 L.A. riots felt in Pasadena, South Pasadena

April 30, 2012 |  2:11 pm

Pasadena riots

Although much of the coverage of the L.A. riots focused on South L.A., some of the violence spread to Pasadena and other parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

In Pasadena, roving gunmen fired at random victims along Colorado Boulevard, at Brookside Park and elsewhere, and sporadic looting shut down commercial areas.

In South Pasadena, four men stormed Buster's Ice Cream & Coffee Stop on Mission Street, tossing a table through its plate-glass window, smashing signs and terrorizing customers.

"They pushed one woman down and broke her nose. One of the guys came behind the register and just ripped it out. We were shut down for two weeks," recalled owner Colette Richards.

Also on that first night of rioting, Keith Ryden was blinded by a shotgun blast to the face after buying cough drops for his wife at a store on Colorado Boulevard near Wilson Avenue. Ryden, now 84, recalls reaching to start his station wagon when he looked out the passenger window and saw an African American teen pointing a gun.

"I was looking right into the shotgun when it went off. That's actually the last thing I ever saw," Ryden said.

"It was a horrible time, not knowing if my dad would even make it through the night," said his son Mark Ryden, a pop-surrealist painter whose 2005 solo exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art set attendance records there.

Looters spared Old Pasadena, but Pasadena Deputy Police Chief Darryl Qualls recalls that several stores were vandalized on the east side of town and in northwest Pasadena. Qualls, a narcotics officer at the time, was sent home from a sting operation in South Los Angeles just as the riots broke out. He was quickly called back to work.

"Heading northbound on the 110 you could see the smoke, but I don't think Pasadenans, at least in large numbers, thought we were going to be impacted," Qualls said.

-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

Photo: Buster's Ice Cream & Coffee Stop on Mission Street in South Pasadena was looted on the first night of the L.A. riots. Credit: From Colette Richards