Sheriff’s Office reports two men taken into custody
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that two people have been arrested in connection with last month’s double homicide that occurred in the unincorporated area of county, which claimed the lives of a pair of 19-year-old residents.
During a press conference at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters, Sheriff Bill Brown announced that 21-year-old Brian Munoz and 24-year-old Joshua Isaac Vega, both of Santa Barbara, have been taken into custody. Two others, including 32-year-old Jorge Luis Silva Guevara, of Santa Barbara, and a 15-year-old boy, were also arrested as a result of the service of warrants that were served at four different residences in the city of Santa Barbara.
Mr. Munoz was arrested on suspicion of two counts of murder, multiple special circumstances, robbery, criminal conspiracy and committing a felony in the benefit of a criminal street gang. He is being held without bail.
Mr. Vega was arrested on suspicion of robbery and criminal conspiracy and is being held on $60,000 bail, Sheriff Brown said.
Mr. Guevara was arrested on suspicion of narcotics for sale and the juvenile was arrested on outstanding no bail warrant for a violation of probation, he added.
The shooting occurred around 12:30 p.m. Jan. 7. The Sheriff’s Office responded to the 600 block of Burtis Street, and a passerby observed a suspect fleeing the area on foot. Responding deputies discovered two victims in the front seat of a parked vehicle.
Enzo Marino Rastelli, 19, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head and 19-year-old Jasper Pieter van der Meulen suffered a gunshot wound to the head, but survived the shooting and was transported to a local hospital. Mr. van der Meulen “fought for his life for a number of days,” but succumbed to his injuries and died Jan. 28, Sheriff Brown said.
Authorities said detectives logged more than 2,000 hours of investigative time in the case and developed information on the identities of the suspects in the case, who are members of a criminal street gang.
The warrants, all served Thursday at four residences within the city of Santa Barbara, were served at residences in the 1900 block of Robbins Street, the 600 block of West Cota Street, the 600 block of North Voluntario Street and the 800 block of San Pascual Street, the sheriff said.
The Sheriff’s Office received assistance from a variety of local resources, including the Santa Barbara Police Department and their SWAT team, the Santa Barbara City Fire Department and the Santa Barbara City Animal Control team, who helped secure “a potentially dangerous dog at one of the locations,” said Sheriff Brown.
The Sheriff’s Office responded with members of its criminal investigations bureau, special investigations bureau, special enforcement team, its SWAT team, K9 units and a county Air Support helicopter.
“The victims of this terrible crime … made some bad choices and fell victim to what is often thought to be a victimless crime, the illicit sale of drugs — in this case marijuana,” Sheriff Brown said. “And I think this case underscores how much of a misnomer that is to think that illicit drugs, including marijuana which is legal in certain circumstances, but if it’s purchased, if it’s sold, if it’s grown, if it’s distributed illegally, it obviously has connections to some very sinister and very dangerous … potential ramifications, and that’s what happened in this case.
“Our sympathies go out to the Rasetelli and van der Meulen families and the friends of these two young men who were taken in the early stages of their adult life.”
Sheriff Brown said the murders were the result of a drug deal that went bad, and he noted that the suspects committed a robbery rip-off. He later clarified that the victims were attempting to sell marijuana to the suspect or suspects and that a half-pound of marijuana was recovered at the scene.
“It was obvious that they were involved in the sale … but it was believed, from their perspective, that they were selling a bag of dope,” he said. “From the perspective of the suspects in this case, they were there to rip them off and to rob them, and ultimately they killed them.”
There has yet to be any information that would connect the shooting to any legitimate cannabis operations, and Sheriff Brown did not identify which criminal street gang was involved.
“We have a policy of not saying the names, just out of deference to the victims and to not give any kind of credibility to these gangs,” he said. “We don’t give that information out.”
It was also unclear if the shooting was connected to the double homicide that occurred in the city of Santa Barbara on Jan. 3.
“The arrests made today send a clear message to members of criminal street gangs, and indeed any other criminal, that would come into Santa Barbara County and commit these types of heinous and evil crimes,” Sheriff Brown said. “And I can assure you that if you do commit crimes like this in our county, we will hunt you down after you’ve been identified. We will arrest you, we will put you in jail, and we will bring you to justice.”
An investigation is continuing, and more suspects may be implicated in the shooting. Additional charges may be filed. Those who have fallen victim to the suspects are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office by calling 805-681-4171. To leave an anonymous tip, visit www.sbsheriff.org.
“We’re not interested in the drug dealing in this case. We’re interested in the violent robbery and the potential impact to a group of people that may have committed a series of crimes,” Sheriff Brown said. “We’d like to know if this is indeed one of other robberies that may have been committed by these suspects, and we ask for you to contact us.”
Hope Slason, 28, of Paso Robles, attended Thursday’s press conference and held a photo of Mr. Rastelli, as well as a sign that read “Justice for Enzo.”
She told the News-Press that, upon hearing about the shooting, she had no idea that she knew the victim. The two met last May via Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app. Days later, Ms. Slason saw Mr. Rastelli was the victim and was in disbelief.
“I couldn’t believe it because he was such a bright young soul,” she said. “He had so much charisma and so much energy, and he was so passionate.”
She attended a paddle out ceremony last month in his honor, describing it as a very “tense” atmosphere. She explained that Mr. Rastelli’s death made her “learn the hard way that we have to take everyday as a blessing,” and to make the most of her life.
“My life will never be the same. He’s definitely changed my life for the better just knowing him. That’s the kind of person he is, and I barely knew him,” she said. “He’s kind of like a little spirit guide for me now.”