Navy vet who stopped an assault and captured the attacker gets heartfelt thanks … and a pink slip

By Gary Walker

Steve Oseas proudly displays his Courageous Citizen award from
L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey
Photo by Maria Martin

Life’s most memorable moments can happen in an instant. On Dec. 21, 2016, that’s all it took for Mar Vista resident Steve Oseas to react when he saw an assault and robbery happening right in front of his eyes.

Oseas, a Navy veteran, was working at a firewood supply company in West Los Angeles when he noticed live security camera footage of a man attacking a woman in a nearby alley. He immediately rushed outside to help her.

The attacker — Christopher Jones, a man with an extensive criminal history — fled down Sepulveda Boulevard with Oseas in pursuit and dropped the victim’s purse as he ran.

“After about three blocks I caught up to him. He took a swing at me. I ducked it and put him in a headlock, and we both went to the ground,” Oseas recalled.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Maria Ghobadi, who prosecuted Jones, said an anonymous 911 call notified police after Oseas called out for help with Jones, whom he subdued until officers arrived.

It wasn’t until Jones was in police custody that Oseas noticed a sharp pain in his side.

“After the adrenaline wore off I realized that I had broken my ribs,” Oseas said. “He went to jail, and I went off to the VA Hospital [in Westwood].”

But that isn’t where the story ends.

Jones would end up pleading no contest to attempted robbery and assault; he’s currently serving a six-year prison sentence, according to county prosecutors.

Oseas is being lauded as a hero, but he’s also out of job due to his injuries.

“After breaking my ribs I missed some time, so they let me go. Maybe I was getting too old and decrepit,” Oseas said ruefully. “No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.”

Last week, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey honored Oseas and others during a Courageous Citizens Awards ceremony hosted by the Rotary Club of Westchester at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles International Airport Hotel.

“I was in the right place at the right time and just did what needed to be done,” Oseas said. “I didn’t think about it at all. That was somebody’s mother or sister or daughter.”

Lacey said honoring citizens like Oseas is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.

“Prosecutors, police officers, paramedics and coroners often see the worst side of life. I look forward to these events because it’s good to see the positive side of things sometimes,” Lacey said.

Oseas’ uncle, Skip Farber, called him a “star.”

“Doing the right thing is always good. I’m really proud of him,” Farber said.

Oseas’ heroism has also left a deep impression on Ghobadi.

“Steve had no idea that this particular attacker had a very lengthy criminal history and, had he not intervened, it could have been a very dangerous situation. He had no clue what was going on, but he knew that it was dangerous. And while a lot of us might run from danger, he ran right into it,” she said.

“And not only did he prevent a violent attack on this woman, he subdued the guy and lost his job [because of it]. Instead of saying thank you and the community rallying around him, he lost his job,” Ghobadi said incredulously. “From the beginning to the end of this case, he was so amazing.”

“It’s a real shame,” Lacey added, “but I’m really glad that he intervened, because people die in muggings.”

After Oseas lost his job, the state stepped in to help him pay his medical bills, Ghobadi said.

After his six years in the Navy, Oseas ran his own flooring company for many years.

Now he’s hoping community recognition will help him make another career change.

“I’d love to get anything that was rewarding, fulfilling and challenging. But if I could do what my heart wanted, it would be to work with children,” said Oseas, who grew up in foster care at the Vista Del Mar Boys Home in Palms. “I’d love to be a mentor for children. That would be my dream job.”

Despite losing his job, Oseas remains optimistic and without regret.

“My glass is three-quarters full and still rising,” he concluded with a smile.