LA JOLLA – What started as a bar fight in La Jolla ended with the brutal death of 24-year-old Emery Kauanui, who police say was beaten by four men and left for dead in front of his mother's condominium.
Kauanui, a pro surfer who grew up in La Jolla, died Monday from a head injury. The young man known as “Junior” to family and friends grew up with the men accused of killing him.
“They were all acquainted, going all the way back to grammar school,” homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said.
Seth Cravens, 21; Eric House, 20; Orlando Osuna, 22; and Matthew Yanke, 20, are being held for suspicion of murder, Rooney said.
Surfers are, by nature, docile creatures. This would sort of be the equivalent of a pack of wild dolphins turning on one of their own.
I am not a surfer myself (anyone who knows me would combust with laughter if they pictured me on a longboard), but I live among them. Looking outside my window right now, I see four wetsuits hanging out to dry. The stereotype of the "mellow surfer dude" is absolutely accurate. Usually the only way to rile up a surfer is to steal his wave.
But now it appears there is a new threat. It turns out that these MURDEROUS THUGS were part of a SURF GANG:
LA JOLLA – Four men scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court today in the La Jolla beating death of 24-year-old surfer Emery Kauanui call themselves part of a “crew” known as the Bird Rock Bandits.
According to the group's MySpace profile, their passions include “getting wasted, partying, surfing and womping.”
Tough Guys" on their way to a California "pound me in the ass" prison
What's especially disturbing is that it turns out these LOSERS have been terrorizing the neighborhood just two blocks away from me for a while now. And the SDPD dropped the ball:
Dozens of readers posted comments to the online version of yesterday's news story in The San Diego Union-Tribune. The “Rants and Raves” section on the local CraigsList Web site teemed with commentary on what happened the night of the assault, and of 0ther violent incidents involving the Bird Rock Bandits.
Some messages offered support for the four men. But many alleged that Cravens and the others committed previous assaults, including some for which police reports were taken but criminal charges were never pursued.
“If the police had followed up after I made my report, at least these guys would have been on notice and maybe Emery would still be alive,” Michael Johnson said in an interview yesterday.
Johnson, 34, is a stock trader who lives in Point Loma. He said that on the night of May 8, he and a friend, Chris Horning, were getting out of their car in front of The Shack, a La Jolla bar near Horning's house.
“Four guys and two girls were getting into a car,” Johnson said. “One guy said something to my friend. I went over to calm things down and got sucker-punched in the face.”
Johnson, who said neither he nor Horning had so much as spoken to the men, said he was knocked to the ground and pummeled. He said Horning was told he would be killed if he interfered. The attackers fled after Horning recited their license-plate number aloud, Johnson said.
Horning the next day visited his alma mater, La Jolla High School, and with the help of a vice principal identified three of the attackers, including Cravens, from yearbook photos, Johnson said.
Johnson then reported the assault to San Diego police, but said he was told it would be “10 to 14 days before they would do anything.”
“I gave them names. I had photos of my face all purple and bruised,” Johnson said. It was so frustrating. And then I learned about Emery's death.”
Homicide Detective Sandi Oplinger said yesterday that Johnson was not the only resident to report having been assaulted by the Bird Rock Bandits.
“I would urge anyone with information about assaults by these young men to call us. My number is (619) 531-2831,” Oplinger said.
Gee...thanks Sandi. NOW you want information on these PUNKS.
OK, to be fair it's easy to see why this was not on the SDPD's radar. Surfers=gang bangers just does not compute. Shake down one of the local surfers and you'll probably get a misdemeanor possession bust.
But still, there were signs:
Some members of the Bird Rock Bandits maintained MySpace pages that glorified their love of football, drinking, drug use and other activities, although several of the sites have been edited since the arrests.
Osuna's MySpace page lists his interests as girls, watching football, skateboarding and snowboarding. He says he would like to meet Bob Marley, the reggae-music legend, who died in 1981.
Here's hoping Osuna gets his wish...courtesy of the California Judicial System.