Jonathan Pu’u talks about being besieged by transients
Jonathan Pu’u knows first-hand about crime on State Street.
He’s experienced it. A lot of it.
As in being besieged by some violent transients he describes as being high on crack cocaine. And one of them was wielding a hatchet.
In a social media post earlier this month, Mr. Pu’u describes a series of encounters he had with aggressive homeless men both inside and outside his business at 1107 State St.
“I was threatened with a hatchet in our business by a crackhead on State Street,” he said. “Police didn’t come right away until I got him to leave, and he went to neighboring businesses threatening them. They then showed up. Not sure if he got charged or not.
“I had another crackhead come in and threaten/stalk me on State Street in our business and get in my face and refuse to leave. Took two hours for police to come. The guy is still doing this. Saw him yesterday again, too.
“Had another crackhead who exposed himself and urinated in front of our business door during operating hours with people inside, exposing himself to people and children. The cops wouldn’t arrest him and he proceeded to sleep in front of our shop for a week on the sidewalk.
“Had a guy threatening to throw a brick through my car window behind our business and the police no-showed.
“Also a garbage fire in the dumpster behind our business at 3 a.m. Cops and FD came. Don’t know if arrest was made.”
His business is not the only one to feel the effects of recent criminal activity on State Street.
Earlier this month, someone smashed the front window of Paradise On State Street and stole guitars and other merchandise from the music and vinyl records store. Police did not arrest anyone at that time.
A week before that, it was Tillys’ turn. Someone broke the front window at the clothing store at 917 State St. A burglary occurred, but Santa Barbara police caught the suspect.
And before that, on Christmas Eve, someone threw a rock that shattered the front window of Rudy’s restaurant at 3613 1/2 State St. A transient was arrested afterward but only for attacking a witness to the window being broken and stealing her phone. She’s facing criminal charges of robbery and theft.
But the situation faced by Mr. Pu’u goes way beyond simple vandalism and theft to straight out threats, intimidation and violence.
And, he says, it’s not just his business that was targeted.
“Had another man walking past our business and throwing glass at our windows after stealing from CVS. Cops no show.
“Had another crackhead smash tourists wine glasses off their table at the restaurant next door and proceed to violate a person in a wheelchair and run him around on State Street against his will. Cops came but the guy was on State street the next day.”
It’s not like Mr. Pu’u hasn’t tried to help people hooked on hard drugs, he said, noting, “We’ve saved two fentanyl overdoses on our business back steps.”
He said he’s counting on police to clean up the situation, but doesn’t hold out much hope given that, according to him, they’ve shown up hours after various incidents or not at all.
He said police keep telling him not to take action to defend himself or protect his business but that he doesn’t know how long he can keep it up.
“I’ve been told not to defend myself by SBPD, but at this point, that’s an unreasonable request,” he said.
He made the same point in a second social media posting.
“Most recent event was yesterday and today,” he said. “Another crackhead came in yelling and harassing inside our business. He left and that was last night. He came in again this morning and SBPD said to ‘not defend yourself’ as I could ‘get in trouble.’ At what point is this no longer OK?”
Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, the SBPD public information officer, told the News-Press on Tuesday that he spoke to Mr. Pu’u directly over the phone.
“Mr. Puu mentioned that some of the posts he made date back to 2021, with his most recent being three weeks ago,” Sgt. Ragsdale said. “Mr. Puu and I had a very productive, positive conversation. I was able to offer him suggestions on how the Santa Barbara Police Department can assist him and provided my direct contact information. He was very thankful for the information and my personal phone call.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Pu’u is more than capable of defending himself and his business if it comes down to it.
He doesn’t serve food. Nor does he sell guitars or clothing. Mr. Pu’u owns a martial arts studio, Pu’u Muay Thai Santa Barbara, which teaches Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing and Muay Thai, a martial art that was developed on the battlefields of Thailand during a time of warfare in Southeast Asia and is practiced now for fitness, self-defense and combat sports.