This one’s a blast from the past, from the past — we’re quoting a 2013 news feature about a 1958 assault with intent.

On May 12, 1958, in Department 42 of the Hall of Justice, two punks from East L.A. were on trial for a murder committed during the course of a robbery. Fifty-one-year-old Jose Castellanos, a local grocer, had been shot to death by 23-year-old Gregory Valenzuela. Castellanos and his wife were in their store at 435 South McDonnell Avenue when two would-be robbers came in and demanded money. Castellanos pulled out his own gun to fend off the crooks, managing to fire off a round before being mortally wounded. Mrs. Castellanos watched in horror as her husband died.

Sheriff’s Detective Sergeants N.L. Peterson and Ned Lovretovich rolled over to the scene of the shooting and began an investigation. Valenzuela was ID’d by Castellanos’ widow, and within a couple of days he was found hiding with four other young men in an empty house behind the home of a friend, Joseph Lozano.

Valenzuela told officers that he and an unnamed accomplice had decided “to hit” the Castellanos’ grocery store.

It’s possible that Valenzuela and his accomplice were members of White Fence, also known as WF, one of the oldest street gangs in East Los Angeles. Even though the gang claims that it dates back to 1911, it didn’t emerge as a formidable force until the 1930s, when it was a male sports team associated with the La Purisima Church. The WF name supposedly derives from a white picket fence that surrounded the church. The moniker may make the gang sound benign, but nothing could be further from the truth.

By 1957, when Castellanos was murdered, White Fence was one of the most powerful and violent gangs in the L.A. area, with criminal enterprises ranging from auto theft to murder. Over the years WF hasn’t vanished but has rather thrived. It now has members in Las Vegas, El Paso, Florida, and Guatemala.

Det. Sgt. Ned Lovretovich, Photograph courtesy USC Libraries – Los Angeles Examiner Collection

Diligent policework by detectives Peterson and Lovretovich resulted in the ID-ing of Valenzuela’s accomplice: 23-year-old Augustine Acosta. As killers will do, Acosta and Valenzuela developed a grudge against the cops who had arrested them, especially Sgt. Ned Lovretovich—and they were determined to get him back.

The day of the trial, as the defendants were being led back into the courtroom by the bailiff following an afternoon recess, they suddenly broke away and attacked Lovretovich with sharpened metal spoons. Lovretovich was not seriously injured, though he did sustain a stab wound to his right shoulder and an abrasion on his cheek. Valenzuela and Acosta were subdued by force and taken away.

If your cousin the con is wondering why he has to eat his gruel with a kind of rubbery plastic spork, tell him he owes Valenzuela and Acosta one.

Now, who is more disarmed than a prisoner? He has no access to weapons, nor money to buy them. He has no rights. He is kept locked up, by definition. He is subject to frequent and intrusive searches, on suspicion or just on general principles.

And yet, like Valenzuela and Acosta, he has no difficulty arming himself with weapons capable of deadly force.

When questioned, Gregory Valenzuela characterized the incident as “just a misunderstanding.” He claimed not to recall much of what had happened and said that he didn’t know why he’d jumped Lovretovich; later he would say his motive was that the detective was framing him.

Acosta’s interview was considerably more colorful than Valenzuela’s. Asked if he cared to tell the investigators what had happened in the courtroom, Acosta replied, “No. Fuck everybody. I don’t give a shit.” Where did Acosta get the spoon he’d sharpened into a shiv, they asked? “It’s for you to find out,” he replied. “You’re the law, not me.”

And in 2016, prisoners are telling cops the same things: either playing dumb like Valenzuela, or playing tough-guy like Acosta.

We bet you have at least eight spoons in your home, and probably more. And, unlike prisoners (and SF guys), you’ve probably never contemplated what you’d have to do to one to make ready for cutting throats. These two crumbs might actually have killed Ned Lovretovich, if he’d been an iota slower or they’d had some combatives training: he was saved, you might say, by their deficiency of spoon-fu. (Or is it spoon-do? The mindshare battle of Chinese and Japanese martial arts never ends).

There are always weapons, as any one who’s been in prison (whether wearing guard blue or inmate stripes) can tell you. If you weaponize your mind, there are weapons within reach everywhere. 

And if you don’t weaponize your mind, beware. Somewhere, a Gregory Valenzuela is. 


Here’s a more recent spoon crime: five years ago. Reporting on the doings of Florida Man, the Daily Mail:

A man plucked out his uncle’s eyeballs with a spoon and left them in the trash, police say.

Timayo Knight, 31, allegedly took out the eyes of his uncle, Bonnie Pogue, 79, and left a bloody spoon on the kitchen table in Prichard, Alabama.

Mr Pogue, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran, survived the attack but is now in a serious condition in a local hospital’s intensive care unit, police said.

Okay, our error: Alabama man. We need more fossils to determine if this is the same species as the previously known Florida Man, Homo sunshineicus.

This entry was posted in When Guns Are Outlawed… on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

19 thoughts on “When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Spoons


Spoon-fu? Or Spoon-do? Neither. As revealed in “The Matrix”, “… there is no spoon. “


If its a japanese spoon it would have to be spoon-jutsu. Jutsu usually denotes the original combat art whereas Do is spiritual path or sport (‘way’). Usually a Do form does not exist without an original Jutsu form of the art. Compare/contrast kendo and kenjutsu, or judo and jujutsu.

Being from the Islamic Republic of Britain ( formerly known as “Great”) we know a lot about assault spoons. And combat butter knives etc. Sigh…


FWIW, Prichard, a suburb of Mobile, has more in common with South Central LA than the rest of Alabama. it’s a sketchy, sketchy place.


i always LOL when i get lectured about a “weapon free” w*rkplace…

i then point out all the common office equipment, and how much of it can be used to kill or maim people, as is, by almost anyone with the will to do so.


This has been my point every time someone brings up a workplace shooting, or the kind of crap that went on at Virginia Tech. “Unarmed victims” my ass… Dude, drunk or sober, armed to the teeth and wearing body armor, there is no f**king way homey is gonna pull a Seung-Hui Cho and go wandering through buildings filled with people to shoot. That ends only one way, assuming that the people in those buildings aren’t a bunch of pussies, and it isn’t an ending I want to experience, set on fire, stomped to death, or some combination of the above. Second classroom Cho wandered into and tried shooting up, he should have gotten a metal table leg upside his head from behind the door he opened, and then beaten to death with it. Or, they could have looted the janitor’s closets… Anything. That scenario he put together? The only way it would ever work was against a college full of emaciated, deracinated liberal pussies. Try a similar stunt somewhere in the real world, like, oh… Say, maybe Somalia? The poor f**ker would have been broiled alive on a spit, somewhere, after the mob got done with him.

One guy with a gun against thirty unarmed people? The only way that equation even comes out “survival” for the gunman is if the thirty are cowards. Case in point-The train in France when Abdullahdips**t came out of the bathroom with an AK. How’d that work out, when real men advanced into the gunfire, and did the necessaries? Yeah, tell me aaaaalllll about how guns make the difference. You’re only cowed so long as you’re a coward.

There are no “dangerous weapons”; only dangerous men. And, women-There is no damn way I’d be going into a tenement full of “unarmed” Somali women and children by myself, with only a handgun. And, that’s really about what Cho was doing the equivalent-Only difference being, he wasn’t going into a Somali tenement, he was going into a US college building.

It’s all in the attitude. If all you’ve got is a Beanie Baby, and they’ve got a gun? Well, sounds to me like it’s time for a bitch to choke to death on a Beanie Baby. Or, die trying in the attempt to make it happen. It’s an either/or thing, and if nothing else, you’re better off dying on your feet, and putting the fear of God into the bastards than anything else.


My intentions exactly…of course, let’s not overlook thrown objects, some of which can obtain a bit of kinetic energy. A crowd of people throwing things might not be the final deterrent, but could be enough of an appetizer to distract the recipient from the entree that follows. Which reminds me…at the convenience store, the checkout line is always near the door. And for me, be it winter, spring, or summer; its always a good time for a tall 16oz -very- hot coffee. Mmmm very hot black coffee.

Bush in Oz

Kirk, The University that I went to had a shooting like that, but it was stopped when a lecturer and a student charged the nutcase and took him to the ground, absolute bravery that saved many lives as the shooter had 6 handguns with him.

Tom Stone

I’ve been doing volunteer work in the Sonoma County Jails for more than a decade and every year we get a refresher course on security procedures. There’s a reason you can’t bring in a magazine held together with staples…

Cap’n Mike

I worked in the station lockup for a few years and I hated having to lockbox my gun before I went back there to book a prisoner.

The thinking is, if nobody on the cell block has a gun (including the cops) it will be safer for everybody. Maybe this rule came about after a cop got his gun grabbed, I don’t know, but every cell block is like this as far as I know.

The problem with this theory is, that not all cops are diligent about searching people. Three different times guns were found either hidden in the cells by prisoners who didn’t want to get caught with them or actually on a prisoner who had been brought in after supposedly being searched by the arresting officer and the transporting officer.

That was enough to convince me that gun free zones don’t exist, never mind weapon free zones.

Hognose Post author

Remember the video of the drunk dude that’s in a holding cell, and suddenly draws and pops himself with a 1911? He was arrested, transported, and left alone in an interrogation room, where he finally pulled the gun and took himself out in a blaze (or at least a muzzle flash) of glory.

Alan Ward

We actually had a kid shoot a cop in the neck after being frisked, cuffed and put in the back of the squad car.

Skinny little fluck, passed legs through arms reached into crotch of pants produced a little Raven .25 shot the cop then legged it after the cruiser low speed crashed into the curb.

I got to know the cop years later when he was an insurance investigator. He said he made the mistake of trusting another cops frisk and thinking the kid was totally submissive.

The kid got three years of juvie, graduated to adult crimes and about fifteen felonies later stomped some guy into a vegetative state before being declared a ” dangerous offender”.


No 100% reliable weapons screening and detection if humans are running the show. No such thing as a gun free zone. No group of average people who can’t score a shot, given enough time and motivation.

Alan Ward

Reminds me of an incident in our weapons free school about fifteen yeas ago. A mom with a son in another special needs class had a real hard on for the kids teacher because she would call home and ask for him to be picked up when junior went over the edge and tried to attack the other kids in the class.

Mom of the year kept getting more and more pissed off, saying we were just singling out her little angel and she wouldn’t put up with it any more.

Come one day in late May and the call goes home and mom comes into get Jr. Third time in less than a month. Teacher tells mom that Jr. can’t go on the field trip tomorrow due to his behaviour. Mom flips and starts cussing loud enough to get other staff to come out into the hall to see what’s up. Mom is directed to leave by asst. principal, who then engages teacher in discussion. Mom grabs a pair of scissors off of the teachers desk and jams them into the teacher’s arm. Teacher, who had been a guard in juvie whilst going to university, calmly turns, takes mom to the floor and restrains her while AP runs from room to call police. Cops come, scissors still in arm, arrest mom and send kid to CFS.

Weapons free school my ass.

Hognose Post author

Apple didn’t fall far from the tree there, eh. And that’s in the land of peace, love and the maple leaf. Imagine how it is down here in the States of Nature….


Paraphrasing, but I had some CJ classes taught by an ATF agent (he was the one who used Brian Terry in class as an example of bad things, was not a fan of FF). The topic of achool shootings arose. Cinderblock building, single door, ground floor. He told us that if there was an incident to go out the windows and he would deal with it. Not any more specific than that, but clear he meant business.


I am so pleased to hear that others have an attack plan for the active shooter

I have told my son and his friends that they are to ignore the plan to hide and die put out by the school

They are to hide on both sides of the door and when the terrorist enters they are to swarm him, stab him with their pens and pencils in the eyes (front kids) ears (side kids) neck (rear kids) over and over

The girls are to throw their laptops at him.

He cant get all 30 of you if you attack. He will kill you all if you just lay there

We just got our active shooter plan at my hospital

Once again it is hide, silence cell phone and roll over when found


Why can’t the local school and hospital board even put fight back as the last resort after hiding and being found?

I keep my Bersa Thunder cc with me in my gun free workplace. I suspect others carry as well

It is only 7 shots of .380 with one reload. With the crimson trace lasergrips I can make hits firing from unconventional positions while remaining behind cover.

I plan to upgrade to a Sig 938 with laser grips so at least I will have 7 shots of 9 mm

Deep concealment is key as they will fire me if anyone sees a concealed weapon

Hognose Post author

Yep. Although they didn’t fire the doc that stopped an active shooter some time back. They decided to let him walk. They didn’t change the policy.

In the army we call rules that are too dumb to follow, but enforced by dumb or servile superiors, “catch-me fuck-me” rules. Don’t catch me, can’t….


You can cover the door with “Gun Free Zone” and “No Guns Allowed” signs top to bottom and side to side to were you can’t see out and the only thing that will stop someone like the shooters mentioned or Orlando is people fighting back with anything to hand including hands and feet.

Hognose Post author

I was just in the doctor’s office today. There’s not only “no guns or weapons” signs on all the doors (it’s the hospital’s own office building) but also in every lobby, lab, office in the place.

Funny, I weighed in heavier than last time. Better get back on that diet, eh?

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