Probation officer is stabbed by a kid at juvenile hall where no one is safe

Shank reportedly similar to the weapon used in April 10, 2023 stabbing at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Monday night, April 10, at around 10:30 p.m. four of the kids in the Q unit of  Los Angeles County Probation’s Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall didn’t want to go into their rooms and go to bed.  

When they made no progress with the four boys who had planted themselves in the dayroom, Detention Service Officers (DSOs) in the unit called Supervising Detention Service Officer Paul Ordonez, and a second Supervising DSO named Kenneth Moffett who both reportedly arrived quickly.

It had already been a stressful night.  According to our sources, at least one of the DSOs, a woman, had been on duty for 24 hours straight, a kind of exhaustion-producing schedule that multiple sources tell us is not uncommon, despite what the county continues to tell the state oversight commission. 

“I know people who are kept on for 32 hours,”  one source told us yesterday.  “Meanwhile, the DSOs keep calling out because they can.”

In any case, back in Unit Q, Ordonez  began talking to the four kids hoping to get them to head to their rooms. 

One of the four, a 17-year-old kid whom we will call Joseph—although that is not his name—got up from a mattress in the dayroom, and walked toward a nearby hallway, presumably to get some water.  

Yet, as Joseph walked past one staff member, all at once he turned and reportedly began to run in the direction of Ordonez, who was standing by the dayroom door.  

What no one saw until it was too late was the fact that  Joseph, who is a smallish kid, had a shank in his hand, which really looked more like a homemade putty knife. (See photo above.)

But it was sharp.  

In seconds, he managed to use the shank to slice SDSO Ordonez in the face and across the throat.

According to a text sent to colleagues by one of the witnesses to the stabbing, the amount of blood caused by the wounds to Ordonez’ face and throat was terrifying, causing the colleague/witness to fear the wounds were fatal.

Fortunately, they were not.

Within a few additional seconds, supervisor Moffett managed to wrestle the shank away from the kid, as others led the disoriented Ordonez to the medical unit, from which he was transported to a nearby hospital. 

After treatment, he was eventually sent home, where worried friends were relieved to able to reach the injured Ordonez the following morning.

Sometime reportedly in the course of Moffett getting the shank away from Joseph,  it appears that Joseph’s arm was fractured.

But that was not the troubling part since SDSO Moffett’s first priority had to be to get the weapon safely away from the kid.

What was troubling, however, was that, according to two of our sources, Joseph was not transported to the hospital to have his arm examined until approximately 8:00 pm the evening of April 11.  

This means that probation didn’t manage to get the teenager driving to the hospital until at least 20 hours after the Monday night incident.  

When Joseph finally saw a doctor around midnight, Tuesday night, the physician determined that the kid’s right humerus was fractured and he would need to see an orthopedic surgeon.

Who is the kid who did the stabbing?

So, who is Joseph?  For one thing, SDSO Ordonez is not the first person he has attacked and injured with a shank.

He was the kid we wrote about who stabbed another kid in unit Y in February.  

The incident was frightening for obvious reasons, but also because there were strong indications that, if Joseph, who had been in a two person cell and doing at reasonably okay, was put back in unit Y,  he was likely to hurt a particular other kid who was already in the unit,

(Unit Y is one of the SYTF units that contain the kids who, in previous years, would have gone to one of California’s youth prisons, which are now in the process of being emptied.)

Line staff reportedly warned against putting Joseph in unit Y.  But supervisors or others above them, decided he should be put in unit Y anyway. The reported excuse was that Barry J didn’t have enough staff to keep him in the two person room.

And, sure enough, once back in Y, Joseph stabbed the kid, who was not killed, reportedly, because someone attempted to intervene and jostled Joseph’s arm away from its mark.

When Joseph first came into the county system he was 15, and his offense was reportedly nonviolent.  Back then, according to sources familiar with his case, he was mostly a kid who had been through a lot of trauma.

When he was four years old his father went to prison for life.  Around three years later his grandmother, with whom he was close, died unexpectedly.  

Two years later still, when he was nine-years-old,  his mother went to prison.   His great grandfather, who was a stabilizing figure in his life, died in June of 2020.

His mother got out in July 2020, but he was already in trouble by then.  

Yet, it wasn’t serious trouble, so Joseph was sent to a couple of non-secure facilities, from which he ran away and headed home several times, wanting to hang out with his mother, who explained he had to go back.

Eventually he was transferred to Campus Kilpatrick where he reportedly did well, until he got into a fight with a staff member, and was transferred eventually to Barry J. Nidorf.

There, according to various sources, the small, insecure teenager got beat up badly, and began doing poorly in school, despite the fact that certain staff members, members of the county’s department of mental health, his attorney, and his mother reportedly did all they could to advocate for him, and to persuade him to to hang in.

Predictably, the scared skinny kid began to fall under the influence of older boys.

It didn’t help that, because of staffing shortages, his attorney, Bess Stiffelman, was for long periods of time prevented from having court ordered calls or visits with her client, which added to his isolation.

Earlier, there was talk about sending Joseph to Dorothy Kirby Center, a locked probation facility where the emphasis is on mental health treatment, and related programs. But somehow the court never made that happen.  

So, he stayed at Barry J Nidorf in circumstances that have reportedly became more and more poisonous for him—and now, without some kind of change, are clearly dangerous for others.

No safe place, say the BSCC staff, & the CA Attorney General

Meanwhile, in other news,  the BSCC—which is the state oversight commission with jurisdiction over county lock-ups such as juvenile halls and adult jails—will decide on Thursday, April 13, whether to give LA County an extra month to show whether or not they can hit the legal marks needed for the BSCC to consider Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall to be safe enough places to continue to have young people in residence.

But that’s not all.

Today, Wednesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion to enforce that givesLos Angeles County 120 days to “remedy illegal and unsafe conditions of confinement at its two juvenile halls.” 

Specifically the county needs to do the following:

  • Provide timely transport of youth from their units in the juvenile halls to school daily;
  • Deliver compensatory education services to youth who are entitled to those services;
  • Ensure that youth have access to daily outdoor recreation;
  • Accurately document and review all use-of-force incidents in a timely fashion, following procedures outlined in the judgment;
  • Install video cameras throughout Barry J. Nidorf juvenile hall;  
  • Implement a positive behavior management plan.

“The Department of Justice,” wrote Bonta, “hopes that Los Angeles County will act with urgency to come into full compliance before it becomes necessary for the court to take action.”

It doesn’t seem like all that much to ask.


  • I would encourage anyone with common sense to stop visiting this website. It needs to shutter like their Instagram page that has 48 followers and last post was in 2018. First thing about this article that made my stomach turn is Celeste made sure to insert in title “By a kid who sees no future”. Celeste let’s call it what it is. La County Supervising Detention Services officer of 30 years stabbed by gang entrenched youth. But I understand you need to sway the readers a certain direction. I understand you and witnessla has an agenda, to make people who service the community by offering public safety look as bad as possible and make the youth look as innocent as you can. Now normally some would say a kid who sees no future would be suicidal and would hurt themself not someone else..but this “kid” went for the kill shot, the neck…he didn’t harm his buddies, or himself, he harmed an officer that was just asking him to go down to his room for bedtime. That warranted getting stabbed in the neck?! Then you took the time to spill this kids whole background as if you’re trying to “justify” or “excuse” this scary behavior…mind you this is not this kids first stabbing!!! This kid wants love and respect from the Mexican mafia not from you. But it’s wonder people like you who wants to advocate putting youths like this back in the streets. A lot of people feel fine shut the halls down, let the youths run a muck back in the community…I think this website would generate a lot more traffic and business if reported truthful, accurate, and insightful articles. I’m extremely happy the officer survived and is ok…I seen plenty of people comment on this website saying someone is going to get killed and it literally almost happened…Celeste it’s ok to have your political views …but to be a respected accurate truthful journalist/ reporter all the facts and truths need to be presented. Change the title. Peace officer stabbed by incarcerated youth. To my fellow readers stop visiting this site. 99.9 of the articles are swayed to swing you in one particular direction. I wonder what would happen if all law enforcement took JUST ONE DAY OFF what would happen. Celeste please post this.

  • I’m a super liberal and progressive African American. I’m all for rehabilitation and therapy…This kid is lucky all he received was a broken arm. He’s lucky to still be alive in my books. But guess what…if staff had pepper spray the kid probably wouldn’t have suffered a broken arm.

  • Editor’s note:

    Dear Sick and Tired. To be honest, I struggled with the headline. And changed it before I saw your comment. So, we agree on that point.

    We also an agree that it’s only blind luck that someone’s not dead.


  • Celeste,

    I have a few questions that i would like answered, do you know what a proper search of a minor is in a juvenile hall? loosening of pant legs, remove shoes to show underside of socks. untuck shirt and loosen the waistband. with such ineffective searches a minor can hide a ton of contraband especially if they have more than 1 pair of boxers and or pants. yes they should not have it but they do. sometimes they wear sweaters as sweats under their county issued pants. sometimes a wand is used but removing of any article of clothing is not allowed. how is someone supposed to find contraband if you can’t physically touch their clothing or have them remove it? a strip search needs to be authorized by administration. administration doesn’t want staff to search the minor’s room. administration feels it’s overkill to search minors after returning from school, church, visiting, medical appointments, court and outdoor recreation. these are all places where a minor can pick up/receive or make a weapon or other contraband.

    now onto the actual stabbing victim. the supervisor that got stabbed previously worked in movement control answering phones. yes he worked an actual building before as well but his last assignment was movement control. he is over 6’2 feet tall. how did the minor stab him in the neck? why didn’t other officers walk with the minor as he moved within the unit after refusing to follow instructions. why isn’t the supervisor or director being reprimanded for placing a violent minor in that type of building. celeste, can we agree that anyone that attacks another person because they got upset is violent? if not, how many assaults before an individual is labeled violent.

    sick and tired, the mexican mafia doesn’t have any say or enforcement in a juvenile hall, camp or djj facility. if they did, they would run more like a adult jail or prison facility. don’t exaggerate. the mexican mafia gains nothing by assaulting or stabbing a supervisor in sylmar.

    my question to all the child advocate is always the same, at what point do we blame the individual for his actions instead of blaming probation?. if his anger, self esteem, or emotional health is hurt beyond repair then i put the blame on mental health staff. bringing the kids chips and giving them a phone call to call their fellow gang members is not proper mental health services. mental health staff should run board once a week to see how an individual really acts when they hear the word NO.

    the general public doesn’t have any idea what goes on behind the walls. these kids have access to snacks, television, video games, telephone calls, air conditioning and this is provided by the county. our tax dollars at work. you can’t rehabilitate anyone if you give rewards without earning them. then again, this is Los Angeles County Probation… reward those who don’t deserve it.

  • The fact that you have obtained highly confidential information about this case – and have named the staff involved proves that Celeste Fremon has no moral compass. Your leak needs to be fired even if it results in one fewer staff. Shameful and disgraceful.

  • Celeste…you said that what WAS troubling is that the young adult (17 about to be 18 next month) did not get to the hospital until 20 hours later. As a line officer who works there…I feel like what is troubling is that this guy feels emboldened enough to stab multiple people now…one of which is even a supervising officer. What’s troubling to me is that this guy stabbed DPO2 Shackleford who DIED a couple of days later and for some reason NOBODY is mentioning that. I UNDERSTAND you want to advocate for kids but WE ARE NOT MONSTERS. To be honest…I really do hope Probation loses the Halls so you can follow these guys and see if Probation was really the problem or if it wasn’t THEM that was really the problem ALL THIS TIME.

  • These kids are criminals and need to be treated like criminals. Criminals cannot be trusted at all. The justice system is a pussy and needs to keep the staff safe and punish these kids and stop letting them get away with everything.

  • As a dedicated licensed mental health professional for over 10 years, I am appalled to even have to speak on this topic. I have always believed that our youth our are future, and I believed in a positive future. Now, I can honestly say that I’m afraid if these youth (here at the halls) are our future.

    The youth and young adults at these juvenile halls DO NOT have any consequences. BOS, POC, BSCC and many others have taken away ALL of probation’s tools. No consequences means no boundaries. When kids don’t have consequences for their actions, they feel they can do whatever they want. That is exactly what is happening now. It doesn’t matter if they do something wrong because nothing happens. There is no consequence or action that tells the youth that, what you just did, is unacceptable. Furthermore, the lack of structure is creating chaos and additional problems. Implementing consequences helps youth gain a real understanding of how the world works. Natural events create consequences to keep things in order and running well. Consequences help us behave appropriately and give us boundaries. This should be the same standard with our youth.

    “Time outs (room confinement)” can be used as an effective tool. However, the BOS, POC, and BSCC have frowned upon this intervention.

    The consequence, or what happens right after the youth’s behaviors, makes the behavior more or less likely to happen again. No consequences and no boundaries LEAD TO BEAHAVIOR PROBLEMS, hence, what we are seeing currently at the halls.

    Probation staff are surviving the best way possible. A majority of probation staff endure dangerous situations daily, often resulting in the staff being assaulted.

    Shame on you Board of Supervisors, shame on you Probation Oversight Committee, shame on you Board of State and Community Corrections, and shame on anyone who has played a part in creating this disaster.

  • Editor’s note:

    Dear “I work there,”

    I’m aware that the young man I’m calling Joseph got into a physical conflict with DPO2 Shackleford. I’m 99 percent sure there was no stabbing. That’s rumor from my understanding. I believe they hit each other. The problem is there are multiple versions of what happened, and I was not been able yet to confirm the facts of the matter before I published, although I know a video exists, which I’d like to see. So what I wrote is that he “got in a fight with a staff member,” at Kilpatrick causing him eventually to be moved to Barry J. Which is true.

    I think mismanagement at or near the top levels of probation is in fact a big problem, not the many line staff who are coming to work day after day under these entirely unsafe conditions and doing their best to do right by the youth in their care. We owe them an ongoing debt of gratitude.

    In any case, thanks for your comment, and your work.


  • the fact that you make this kid out to be a victim is sickening. he’s no victim and needs to be locked up for long time. If he would do that to an authority figure imagine what he would do to you celeste. Go work at a group him since you are so concerned. The group home has nothing on the halls.

    Also, you blame probation for not taking him to the hospital. Probation does not make that determination l, the nursing unit does. It sounds like he didn’t complain until later because i’m sure he was seen by nurses almost immediately after the restraint. Nursing tells probation officer a inmate can be cared for in the facility or needs a higher level of care. But we know you have an agenda and won’t report the facts.

  • Celeste…you want hardcore facts, ask your sources and connections to let you have a uniform and work a couple days undercover in sylmar or central. Don’t let anyone know who you. Encourage the Board of supervisors to do the same. Just work a solid 8 hours. Almost like Undercover Boss. See what information you retrieve.

  • “It doesn’t seem like all that much to ask”. Hahhaha. That is easy to say from someone on the outside looking in. How do you fix this problem? With staff. But there is a staff shortage. Then hire more officers. Who is going to work for the same amount of money they are paying at Target or as a grocery store checker and have their life at risk in the hands of a juvenile who is already defeated and is aggressively defiant?? I’m pretty sure not this author or any sane person. how do you fix it. It starts with the board of supervisors and then it moves to the department executives to address the issues. Your staff (or lack thereof), are over worked and underpaid and the staff related injuries are going to continue to occur and eventually LA county is going to lose millions more dollars on lawsuit by both the probationers and probation officers. Sad to say, someone is eventually going to get killed by these unsafe practices.

  • MEGS: you talk about keeping staff safe well let me inform you the staff are criminals as well, taking in drugs to minors, beating on minors, where there’s no cameras, challenging minors to fight them these kids are not all criminals. A lot of these kids don’t have a violent background, but once they’re in this facility there in survival mode, they let the system get the best of them. They’re just trying to survive. They’re scared children.

    I WORK THERE: you work there, so how is it that you don’t have your facts straight Shackleford was an alcoholic and a drug addict, he did not get stabbed. It was a fight were shackleford instead of walking away from this child, and being the adult that he should’ve been, he challenged this minor to a fight. So this minor is not fully to blame. These are grown men working with children with troubled children at that, so who is adult in the situation I believe he should’ve walked away. Shackeleford didn’t pass away days later weeks later it was months maybe even a year later he passed away, could’ve been from his drug use alcohol intake we don’t know so again these are facts, so I can’t say he passed away from his alcohol and drug use. I’m only speaking facts on here. This minor didn’t get seen by a nurse nurses were not allowed to see him until several hours later after that 20 hours or more later he was transported to the hospital. This minor this child this little kid sat in a cell in excruciating pain. I get it he’s not completely innocent in the situation, but is that the way we treat these children so inhumane This facility is supposed to rehabilitate them. It’s supposed to help them make them better to come back out to society‘s doing nothing like that. It’s making these children worse. Not to mention the child that is being mentioned is autistic a special needs child who is not getting the proper care in this facility.

  • Celeste. Would you come to BJNJH and wear a uniform for 8 hours and introduce yourself as a new staff to the youth?

  • Guaranteed Facts: yes it is true that Shackleford was not stabbed nor died days later BUT what is not being mentioned is he was outnumbered when he was attacked by “Joseph” and 2 other youth (3 in total) and was alone! Do i condone fighting children? No but I also understand fight/flight/freeze and may the man RIP instead of being slandered.

    As for the Joseph not being seen for “over 20 hours” for his broken arm many factors play part in this. Not saying it’s right nor wrong but with a staffing shortage and safety of all youth and staff, as well, it took sometime. Joseph has only recently has been labeled “Autistic” is it part of his legal teams strategy or is it legit?! We will never know but what we do know is Joseph has attacked close to 25 black men in his almost 2 years of being incarcerated. Does he have trauma? Yes but so does I’ll say 90%+ of the other youth and they aren’t stabbing or attacking staff as frequently or ever and let’s keep it real staff have their own trauma prior to this and if they didn’t they surely do now, if they’re showing up to work. No one can stop this young man because he has a goal and well we can’t save someone who doesn’t want to save themselves. Maybe he will find his way once in prison (his goal) and can come back to mentor the future youth through ARC and DYD.

  • These kids would slash your neck too with no remorse, Whether they are 17 or 37.
    Theses kids cannot not be babied like most the advocates want.
    There’s always bad apples in the batch and have to be adhered differently.
    Nobody will be able to handle them.
    The true heroes are the ones that work in these halls and camps day after day with no proper gear thanks to the advocates and political leaders that listened to past criminals and don’t listen to the actual people that work with these offenders.

  • Celeste, for years you have vilified the officers who work for the Los Angeles county probation department. You and your ilk were instrumental in taking away virtually every behavior management tool that was available to us. The blood spilled by Mr. Ordonez is on your hands and the hands of every “woke” liberal. What is truly insulting is how you twist the narrative to make the assualtive minor the victim. Shame on you.

  • Probation dept staff and “licensed mh professiona” commenting on this page, sure sounds like taking a page out of the Villanueva playbook. LA CO Probation is at the end of the line because of inept leadership, the unprofessional DSOs, the DPOs who want to be PC 830.1 officers. We all went through the 90s period. The halls were just as bad. You’all we did not get to this point in the last 10 years. BSCC do what needs to be done.

  • “Jess” , you kinda sound like a conspiracy theorist. Do you doubt that the environment of the halls are controlled in a safe manner? I would agree that the department is lacking in leadership, but I would add that the board of supervisors should be held under a microscope as well.

  • As previously stated to all Probation Officers who commented.
    What is your Union saying or doing regarding the safety protocols that are lacking in the Juvenile Halls?

  • The sad thing is this kid has been through a lot. He lost his grandpa his grandma his great grandma and his father to prison for life. The father was never there to teach him how to be a man he never got that chance to be shown how to act and what’s expected of him as a man you basically have a lost little boy that feels like the world is against him.

    I know this because he’s my little cousin on my grandma’s side. It’s kind of messed up all the nasty comments on here criminals can’t be trusted. If you really knew what this kid went through.

    His mom got chased in a store and got shot at by one of her boyfriends and almost got killed. He almost got killed to such trauma this young man has been through and yet all the system can do is just not help him with his mental health.

    He needs help with his mental health. y’all can’t see that in our system is failing them and you all are allowing it to happen including me. I hope they get cameras in those facilities because I’ve heard horror stories. TThere’s kids in there to get raped molested by staff hit and beaten. Staff talk to them foul and staff treat them like they’re a piece of shit and they’re not worth nothing. How do I know this? I’ve heard the stories and I know how people act.

    I really think all those probation officers are good two shoes and they’re gonna treat these kids reward them with everything that they deserve from now they talk shit to them baby little them they put them down they punish them for a little reasons they shouldn’t be punished. On top of that they oppressed them and bully them. What was the reason for him to go after that officer why just that officer? Shy not another officer? Fhat officer say something to him or do something to him? it doesn’t give him the right to get a shank and stab the officer but bullying and all the other stuff shouldn’t be happening. You should have an officer that’s there to help rebuild and rehabilitate the kid not make them feel worse than they already are. I know he gets treated like this because my brother went to juvenile hall when he was younger and I went to men central jail for making a mistake. I should’ve never brought my buddy in the car with me because he brought a little tiny souvenir dodger bat that they tried to charge us with. mistakes I learn from them and I’m a better person than I was then. This kid has been through so much in so little of time. I’m surprised he hasn’t hurt himself. Boys so angry and so hurt inside. and all the system can do is just say you’re a bad apple you gotta go away.

    fucking sad

  • Majority of the gang entrenched youths have one goal, that is to terrorize society and graduate to prison. We can not force these youths to change, they will change on their own time, when they’re tired of the life, while they’re serving a life sentence in prison, 60 years old, or dead. Not ALL youths aspire to being the baddest, deadliest, scariest gangster, probation staff will usually know which youths have a chance at rehabilitation as they see the worst and best of these incarcerated youths, not the spectators who just read data and statistics or articles. However, when we release the youths back into the same environment that got them locked up, we’re only allowing them to return with a more heinous crime. Their parents can’t control them, so let’s send them back in their custody! Their parents or peers are the ones enlisting the youths as crime partners because they know they will be treated like a child and released in a few months. Their parents are the ones that work too much and turn the other way so they don’t have to deal with their delinquent child, so yes! Let’s release them back to their family and community where being a gangster is the cool thing to be and the more violent your crime is the more respect you gain from peers. Some of their own parents are too scared to have them back because they fear for their own safety and their other children’s safety.

    How do we rehabilitate the youth? Work on the youths that are ready for treatment. Protect them from themselves, stop releasing them back into their gang entrenched environment. Harsher consequences for the youths that are not ready for treatment, show them how real life in prison is going to be by treating them like adults. Maybe then they’ll want treatment before it’s too late and they are serving adult life. Stop feeling sorry for the youths because that will not stop them from murdering, sexually assaulting, physically assaulting, or stabbing you, your kids, your friends or family members. You will not see remorse from majority of these youths after you’ve spent any actual time working with these individuals. Why? Because people feel sorry for them, they are the real victims, it doesn’t matter what they do, how heinous their crime is, there are no consequences. People are naive and will always feel sorry for them, therefore instilling ‘I AM THE TRUE VICTIM’ NOT the person I stabbed and killed for being in the wrong neighborhood or not giving up their car, purse, wallet, phone, or for telling me NO. If a youth is incarcerated for attempted murder, no matter what they do while incarcerated, stabbing another youth or staff, it doesn’t matter. There will be no further charges unless it’s a higher crime. Only if he successfully MURDERS someone while incarcerated will he catch another charge and maybe some sort of consequence, they get to stay in summer camp for a couple more months where the conditions are better than living off the streets or under a bridge. Maybe the best way to keep the community and the delinquent youths safe, is to take full custody to keep them away from their negative environment which may include their own family. A gang entrenched youth at the age of 13 can murder countless times until they are charged as an adult. Will he have any reason to change? Get an education or a job? No, because the respect and status he gains from peers is more important, just like any other teenager looking for acceptance. If having an education or being kind makes you ‘cool’ with your peers then great, that youth will most likely never come across probation. But if ‘cool’ means being vicious, violent, defiant among your peers, good luck trying to change them so they can be shunned or ridiculed by peers once they’re released. What’s most important to a teen? Their peers and social environment. People don’t generally think about their future or family until their adult years when reality sinks in. Stop thinking these troubled youths are JUST LIKE YOU OR YOUR KIDS, because they are far from it. So change their social environment if you really want to ‘rehabilitate’. Spend a year in the streets, in the hood, and THINK LIKE THEM, if you really want to know how you can help. Violence, gang life, criminality is the NORM for them. Trying to change their norm is rewiring 13-18 years of what they’ve known. So do you really think we can create a new norm in 6 months? Think out of the box, not within your own square.

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