Former SM resident sentenced to federal prison for shooting elephant seal
SANTA MARIA — A judge sentenced a former resident of Santa Maria to three months in federal prison Monday for shooting a northern elephant seal to death on a beach near San Simeon.
Jordan Gerbich, 30, resided in Santa Maria at the time of offense but has since moved to Coalville, Utah.
In December, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of illegally taking a marine mammal.
According to court records, Mr. Gerbich brought a .45-caliber pistol and fatally shot a northern elephant seal in a viewing area near the Piedras Blancas Marine Reserve and Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary Sept. 28, 2019.
The elephant seal was spotted with a bullet hole in its head the next day.
“It remains unclear what motivated [Mr. Gerbich] to commit such an act; nevertheless, [Mr. Gerbich] knew it was wrong,” prosecutors said in their sentencing memorandum.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act names northern elephant seals as a protected species.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement investigated with assistance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In addition to prison time, United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer sentenced Mr. Gerbich to three months of home detention, a year of probation, 120 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
Assistant United States Attorney Heather C. Gorman of the Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section was the lead prosecutor.
— Annelise Hanshaw
Sheriff celebrates National Public Safety Communications Week
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and members of the Sheriff’s Office are thanking dispatchers and call takers during National Public Safety Communication Week this week.
Dispatchers and call takers answer emergency and non-emergency phone lines, determine callers’ needs and dispatch appropriate resources.
“Our public safety dispatchers and call takers are an extraordinary group of women and men who answer calls for help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Sheriff Brown said in a news release.
“Answering calls for help from members of the public and dispatching cops, paramedics and firefighters to law enforcement, medical and fire emergencies, many of which are interconnected, requires great levels of dedication to duty, coolness under extreme conditions, technical skills, an outstanding ability to communicate, and large doses of tact, patience, common sense and empathy for the plight of others.
“We could not do our work without emergency communicators; they make a difference and earn our respect each and every day.”
Applications for call takers and dispatcher jobs are open at sbsheriff.org.
— Annelise Hanshaw
Officers recover imitation handguns from barricade suspect
SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara Police Department released more details about Sunday’s suspect who barricaded himself in an apartment in the 200 block of Ladera Street, including the presence of three replica handguns.
Police identified the suspect as Eduardo Adrian Mendoza, a 29-year-old Santa Barbara resident. He is being charged on a felony count of attempted rape, a felony county of false imprisonment, a misdemeanor for brandishing an imitation firearm and a misdemeanor for resisting arrest.
Around 5 a.m. Sunday, the victim called 911 to report a male suspect with a handgun who sexually assaulted her. She fled from the suspect prior to calling law enforcement.
The suspect barricaded himself in an apartment, and police negotiators convinced him to surrender after almost four hours of negotiation.
It was later learned two bystanders were in the apartment — including a child.
The SWAT and Crisis Negotiation Response Team responded due to the serious allegations and likelihood of a firearm.
Officers and detectives located three replica handguns in the apartment — all undistinguishable as replicas from appearance alone.
Mr. Mendoza is held on a $100,000 bail.
— Annelise Hanshaw