A good Samaritan who chased after a man who molested a 5-year-old girl in an isolated area in the parking lot of a Panorama City shopping center was among three people honored Thursday with Courageous Citizen Awards by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
Daniel Ayard, 23, of Pasadena, was lauded for coming to the aid of the girl as she cried for help outside the Panorama City Mall on April 21, 2016, and chasing after her assailant, Jorge Enrique Lopez Maza.
Maza, 27, was sentenced in February to 15 years to life in state prison after pleading no contest to a lewd act upon a child involving the girl, whom he had offered to help find her grandmother after the two became separated at the mall.
Also honored were:
— Donald Shaw, 71, of Studio City, who was stabbed multiple times in the neck and back on Nov. 21, 2016, after he intervened when a security guard yelled out for help while trying to stop a woman for allegedly shoplifting at a supermarket in the Valley Village area.
Richard Anthony Camacho, now 26, of North Hollywood, pleaded not contest to assault with a knife and was sentenced last year to seven years in state prison, while Camacho’s girlfriend, Emily Saado, now 23, pleaded no contest to assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to two years behind bars.
— John R. Eldridge, 63, of Lancaster, praised for calling for help for a man who had been shot, beaten and left in the desert in the Lancaster area because he was believed to have spoken to police about a gang’s activities. Rudolfo Alcantar, 33, and Rosie Lee Morales, 24, were convicted of murder and other charges stemming from the victim’s death nine days later. Alcantar was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and Morales was sentenced to 48 years to life in state prison.
“We are honored to recognize these heroes who put themselves in danger to help others and then made sure that justice was served in each of these cases,” the district attorney said. “Their actions remind us that we all can make a difference in helping to stop crime in our neighborhoods.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Northridge.