Bloodbath at Bob’s Big Boy, Part 1

bob logoIt was 2:05 a.m. on Sunday, December 14, 1980 and the Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on La Cienega near Sawyer, just north of the Santa Monica Freeway, was closed for the night. There were still eleven people inside, two customers preparing to leave, and nine employees.

Two black men entered the restaurant through the front door. The late comers could have been customers who had not realized the restaurant was closed except that each them was brandishing a sawed-off shotgun, and one of them was armed with a revolver.

All eleven people were herded at gunpoint into the restaurant’s 8×15 foot walk-in freezer and made to lie on the floor. The victims complied with every request. They covered their heads with their hands and waited for the ordeal to end. Then, for no apparent reason, the robbers opened fire. When they were finished the freezer was an abattoir and three people were dead.

The bloodbath at Bob’s ended the fourth highest weekend of murder on record in Los Angeles with a total of 32 people slain. It was an appalling statistic and prompted Lt. Glenn Ackerman of LAPD’s West LA division to say: “What in the name of God kind of monster could have done a thing like this? It’s totally out of the realm of the kind of behavior that civilized people can even contemplate.”

rising tide violence

Citizens were terrified, and no wonder. The week before the Bob’s murders former Beatle John Lennon was assassinated on the street in front of his New York City apartment. It seemed that no matter where you lived, or who you were, you were not safe. The 1980s was one of the most violent decades in the U.S. since the 1860s and the carnage  continued at a record pace until the early 1990s.

LAPD issued a nationwide dragnet for the killers based on the physical descriptions as reported by the victims. The management of Bob’s Big Boy offered a $10,000 reward for information leading their arrest and conviction.luna pic

There were three dead at the scene: David Burrell, 20, customer; Aphrodite (Dita) Agtani, 23, waitress and mother of a 4 month old child. Ahmad Mashuck, 20, employee who died several hours later. In critical condition were diswasher Cesario Luna, 45 and Evelyn Jackson, 23, also an employee. In serious condition were Rami Ellen Rogoway, 17, patron; Dionne Alcia Irvin, 20, and Michael Malloy, 23 both employees. Slightly wounded was Derwin Logan, 19, employee. Uninjured were Rhonda Robinson, 19, and Ismael Luna, 20 (Cesario’s son), both employees. Cesario Luna would linger in a coma for several months before he passed away, bringing the death toll to four.

task force

A special LAPD task force to combat violent crime on the West Side was formed and Deputy Police Chief Daniel Sullivan said: “The idea is to keep people from getting hurt in the first place–instead of just arresting someone after something terrible has happened.” The plan was to use cops as decoys. Sullivan continued: “I want the bad guys to know that the next guy they try to rob on the street is liable to be a police officer…”

A task force was all well and good going forward, but meanwhile the cops had to identify and arrest the people responsible for the massacre at Bob’s.

NEXT TIME: The killers are busted.

8 thoughts on “Bloodbath at Bob’s Big Boy, Part 1

    • Hi Joelle —

      Here’s a summary from the post:
      There were three dead at the scene: David Burrell, 20, customer; Aphrodite (Dita) Agtani, 23, waitress and mother of a 4 month old child. Ahmad Mashuck, 20, employee who died several hours later. In critical condition were diswasher Cesario Luna, 45 and Evelyn Jackson, 23, also an employee. In serious condition were Rami Ellen Rogoway, 17, patron; Dionne Alcia Irvin, 20, and Michael Malloy, 23 both employees. Slightly wounded was Derwin Logan, 19, employee. Uninjured were Rhonda Robinson, 19, and Ismael Luna, 20 (Cesario’s son), both employees. Cesario Luna would linger in a coma for several months before he passed away, bringing the death toll to four.

      Best,

      Joan

  1. David Burrell, 20, was an architechnal major at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in Los Angeles. The college’s student paper published a tribute and anti-gun protest in an issue after his murder.

    • Thank you, Sheldon. It is crushing to realize how much potential was lost in a senseless act of violence. It always breaks my heart.

  2. A friend at the time had asked if I’d heard of the shooting. I was working and going to college so no time for tv. However our friend Tami Rogiway from BBG was a victim. It says Rami but I’m sure it was Tami from Bnai Brith. BBYO had a youth house on La Cienega and they go eat there or Denny’s, Norms and Sambo’s.
    Perhaps this was a hate crime. BBYO is a Jewish Organization
    We also went to the Bob’s on Santa Monica Blvd in SM CA

    Did they ever catch the criminals?

    • The killers were caught and punished. You can read all the parts of the story by searching for “Bloodbath at Bob’s Big Boy’ on the home page.
      Here’s a quick wrap-up of the participants:

      Ricky Sanders — is still on death row. On May 26, 2010, he filed an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit over the denial of his habeas petition in Federal District Court. I don’t know the outcome of his appeal, but it was very likely denied. If and when California resumes executions he is certainly at the top of the list.

      Franklin Freeman Jr. — is in prison serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

      Carletha Stewart — a petition circulated by a friend of hers a few years ago advocated for her release, but as far as I can tell she is still incarcerated.

      Madelynn Koppel — according to the California Bar Association she continues to practice law.

      Leslie Abramson — is best known for her defense of Erik and Lyle Menendez for the 1989 shotgun murder of their parents in Beverly Hills.

      Harvey Giss — eventually left the DA’s office and went on to become a superior court judge. He retired in July 2014.

    • Priscilla,

      Here is the wrap-up on Carletha:
      Carletha Stewart decided, on the very day she was to go to trial, to plead guilty and avoid the same fate. She copped to all of the crimes she was charged with: four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. She admitted to driving the getaway car. Taking everything into consideration she got a good deal, 25 years to life.

      I did a little digging and found her on Facebook in a post from 2015, so she has been released. By all accounts she used her time in prison to reform.

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