Here are the Independent's other top stories of 2011:
2. Little Leaguers go big
The Ocean View Little League Majors All-Star team went on a historic journey during the summer. The Huntington Beach squad captured Section 10 and Southern California Regional tournament championships to move on to the Western Regional at San Bernardino, where it topped Red Bluff Little League of Northern California, 2-1.
The dramatic win earned Ocean View a ticket for a first-ever trip to the 65th annual Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Ocean View saved its ultimate drama for last: On the final day of the World Series on Aug. 28, a two-out, bases-loaded single by Nick Pratto lifted the All-Stars to a 2-1 victory over Hamamatsu City, Japan.
A day later, a crowd of nearly 1,000 people and various news agencies greeted the Ocean View team upon its return to Huntington Beach.
3. Shooting leaves eight dead
Huntington Beach resident Scott Evans Dekraai was allegedly seeking revenge on his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, when he walked into Salon Meritage in Seal Beach at 1:20 p.m. Oct. 12 with a bulletproof vest and three guns.
He is accused of killing Fournier, whom he was targeting following their bitter custody battle over their 8-year-old son, and seven others. The rampage was the worst in Orange County history.
Dekraai now faces eight counts of first-degree murder, and the Orange County district attorney is seeking the death penalty.
4. Sunset Beach annexed
Two years after the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission put Sunset Beach under Huntington's sphere of influence, the small seaside community finally became part of its much larger neighbor.
The commission declared the annexation final in August after Orange County Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Horn ruled against a petition by the Citizen's Assn. of Sunset Beach. The grass-roots group had sought to block the annexation, which the court stayed in January, until Sunset residents could vote on paying the same taxes as the rest of Huntington.
The association, backed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., has filed a notice of appeal and plans to deliver its opening brief by February.