Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
Someone using Google keeps landing on the Daily Mirror in trying to answer this question: "What was the name of the woman who passed away in July 2007 and at the funeral the family gave away ornaments from her Christmas trees and what was her nickname?"
That's a new one on me.
Can anybody help out?
I'm quite sorry to report that Alexander Sputnik Ornelas did not live to see his 50th birthday, but died at the age of 44. A reader sent me the news in a comment, which I posted without realizing it was taken from another paper (a no-no). Here's the link instead:
The Daily Mirror salutes his memory.... Here's to you, Alexander Sputnik Ornelas.
No, I don't know anything further about Baron the German shepherd, but I do have more information about Nyals A. Andreason, thanks to a reader.
According to an online obituary, Nyals graduated from Brigham Young University and was a computer program analyst. He was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1983 married his wife, Judith, at the LDS Temple in Los Angeles. His survivors included a son, stepchildren, grandchildren, siblings and his father.
Now for the bizarre touch: Nyals died Dec. 11, 2006, a day after the 49th anniversary of the holdup in which Baron the dog was shot--and less than two weeks before the anniversary of the fatal holdup.
That's more than a bit spooky.
Dec. 11, 1957
On Dec. 10, 1957, a gunman shot a German shepherd named Baron that had been ordered to attack as the robber was leaving a liquor store at 15023 Leffingwell Road, La Mirada.
The Times said that clerk Robert M. Nelson had taken precautions after a previous holdup by concealing a .45-caliber pistol under the counter and teaching his dog to attack. When the robber was backing out of the store, Nelson dropped behind the counter, fired at the gunman and ordered: "Get him, Baron!"
Nelson missed, but Baron was almost on top of the gunman when he was shot twice in the chest, with one bullet lodging near his spine. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian, where he was under observation to see if he would recover from being partially paralyzed.
This close call did nothing to dissuade the gunman from further holdups, however, and on Dec. 26, 1957, he shot clerk Paul Robertson, 44, as he and a companion were robbing a liquor store at 14317 Studebaker Road, Norwalk. Robertson lingered for a few days before dying of a bullet wound to the abdomen.
On Jan. 6, 1958, police in Las Vegas arrested Nyals A. Andreason, 16, and Charles Galbraith, 16, as runaways and found they were carrying $300 ($2,149.59 USD 2006) and a .22-caliber revolver. Under questioning, the youths admitted they were part of the "Black Mask Gang," a group of Norwalk teenagers that was responsible for killing Robertson and for the holdup in which Baron was shot.
Andreason, a devout Mormon and the founder of the Norwalk YMCA, didn't think it was possible. Nyals was a "sweet boy," he said. In fact, "They were all good boys, just trying a crazy adventure." He had no idea Nyals had bought a .22 on a Thanksgiving trip to Utah, he said.
Nyals didn't need the money, his father said. "He saved $200 from delivering papers. He works in a supermarket and does a wonderful job. He has two bank accounts--one with $150 and the other with $190."
Andreason refused to believe the allegations until he heard the confession from his son's lips. Wasn't the Excelsior High School student "considered by his teachers as 'one of the nicest boys in the school?' "
"He's broken up," the father told The Times. "He said, 'Dad, I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I was just doing it for a lark. The fellow told us to get out and I was just going to shoot at a bottle.' "
In identifying gang members, Nyals implicated his younger brother Aaron, 14, and said they were also responsible for robbing another liquor store at 14147 Imperial Blvd., and burglarizing Norwalk High School.
Nyals and gang member William G. Hughes were tried as adults and convicted of manslaughter and robbery.
Paroled in less than a year, Nyals A. Andreason was arrested in 1963 after he drew a .22-caliber semiautomatic on two sheriff's deputies in Norwalk (50 years ago, officers were apparently far less likely to use deadly force than they are today). He was charged with the armed robbery of two homes in Pico Rivera.
The Times never pursued this story, so there's no further information on Nyals A. Andreason or his father. According to an online obituary, Nyals T. Andreason and his wife, Mary, who died in 2005, were active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon retirement moved back to Salina, Utah. We can only hope that in later years, things somehow turned out for the best.
And no, we don't know what became of Baron.
Dec. 21, 1943
Sequoia National Forest