Lompoc police seeing rise in gun, gang-related crimes
LOMPOC — The Lompoc Police Department has seen a rise in gun and gang-related crimes over the past month and a half, which includes investigating at least 10 confirmed shootings within the city and confiscating 15 firearms.
Police released a summary of several cases, which involved local gang members.
Just before 10 p.m. on Oct. 13, officers responded to the 700 block of North D Street on reports of shots fired in the area. Officers made contact with a group of gang members and a 16-year-old, who was part of the group, was found to possess a loaded revolver and arrested at the scene.
Around 3 p.m. Oct. 26, police were conducting a follow-up investigation to a shooting that occurred the day prior. Officers found a group of gang members in the 600 block of West Maple Avenue. The group dispersed as police arrived, though a 15-year-old gang member was contacted leaving the group. The juvenile was found to be in possession of a sawed-off shotgun and a loaded handgun and arrested on several firearm-related charges.
Around 9 p.m. on Nov. 1, police were involved in a vehicle pursuit that originated in the 400 block of North K Street. The pursuit ended in the 800 block of North H Street and four occupants, all gang members, attempted to flee. The driver evaded arrest, while 18-year-old Eduardo Molina and two juveniles were arrested at the scene. Further investigation revealed that the occupants of the vehicle discarded a loaded handgun during the pursuit. Mr. Molina was booked on numerous gang-related firearm charges. The driver of the vehicle remains outstanding, police said.
Around 3:15 a.m. on Nov. 5, police attempted a traffic stop on a reported stolen vehicle in the 800 block of North G Street. The two occupants fled prior to police contact. Officers located a 17-year-old documented gang member who was believed to be an occupant of the vehicle. A loaded handgun was found following a search of the vehicle and the juvenile was arrested at the scene.
Around 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 6, police responded to the 600 block of North 4th Street on reports of shots fired. Later that day, the suspect vehicle was found in the 200 block of East Pine Avenue. The driver, 27-year-old Oscar Diaz, and two other juvenile passengers were identified as documented gang members. Officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop of the suspect vehicle as Mr. Diaz led officers on a pursuit that ultimately ended in the alley near the 400 block of North K Street. Officers arrested a 17-year-old passenger for resisting arrest. Mr. Diaz was able to flee from the area in the vehicle. On Nov. 9, officers located and arrested Mr. Diaz in connection to the shooting and felony vehicle pursuit.
At approximately 11:04 p.m. on Nov. 11, police responded to the 500 block of North M Street on a report of shots fired. While officers were on scene they contacted 18-year-old gang member, Emmanuel Hernandez, and a 15-year-old juvenile gang member in the area. Officers found both of these subjects to possess loaded handguns. Further investigation revealed that a victim had attempted to transport himself to a San Luis Obispo area hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound. Mr. Hernandez and the juvenile were both arrested for numerous gang related firearm charges, including assault with a deadly weapon.
Around 2:40 p.m. on Nov. 16, police attempted to stop a vehicle in the 400 block of North M Street for an alleged traffic violation. The vehicle immediately fled the area. Officers were able to locate the involved vehicle in the 300 block of South K Street. Shortly after, officers also located a 17-year-old gang member in the area. The juvenile was found to be the driver of the vehicle. The juvenile was also found to possess a loaded handgun and was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and possession of the firearm.
— Mitchell White
SBPD taking part in “Slow the Fast Down” campaign
SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara Police Department will participate in a new statewide initiative to encourage drivers to “slow the fast down” and understand the dangers of speeding.
The campaign runs through Nov. 29.
“We are seeing changes in driving behavior, and the number of people traveling at excessive and extremely dangerous speeds is alarming,” Sgt. Michael Brown, police spokesman, said in a statement. “COVID-19 puts the value of protecting lives in perspective, and practicing safe driving is one simple way everyone can keep themselves and others safe.”
Police hope that education about shared responsibility and behavior changes will create an environment that is safe and equitable for all road users, Sgt. Brown said.
Shared responsibility is a key component of the city’s Vision Zero strategy, which aims to eliminate all serious and fatal collisions from city streets. Education and enforcement actions are an integral part of the four-pronged approach to Vision Zero, which focuses resources on Evaluation, Education, Enforcement and Engineering to prevent traffic-related serious injury or death in the city.
Excessive speeding went way up during the beginning of stay-at-home orders in March. Between March 19 and April 30, California Highway Patrol officers issued 4,000 citations for speeding over 100 miles per hour, more than double (113%) from last year despite a steep decline in traffic volume.
Between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31 of this year, CHP officers issued 4,851 citations for speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour, a 93% increase when compared to the same period last year.
“The road is not a racetrack,” Sgt. Brown said. “The freeway is not the Autobahn. Follow a safe, legal speed.”
Speeding remains one of the main causes of crashes: in the federal fiscal year 2017-18, speed was a factor in approximately 31% of all fatal and injury crashes in California. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
— Mitchell White
Fire department shares winter safety tips
As temperatures drop and residents spend more time at home this winter, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department issued a set of tips to ensure residents protect themselves and their loved ones from any fire hazards.
Residents are reminded to have their furnace checked. Though some believe they can do so themselves, authorities said it is often safer to invest in hiring a professional to come and inspect your furnace annually.
“It’s always better to know when something is not working properly than to have it abruptly break down in those cold winter months when you need heat the most,” officials said.
In addition, locals are advised to check on their chimneys and vents, as fireplaces can produce creosote which is capable of igniting.
“If your family lights the fireplace often, you most likely need an annual chimney inspection to make sure there are no hazards capable of starting a fire,” officials said. “It’s important to always remember that when burning wood, use dry, seasoned wood which produces more flame with less smoke.”
Fire officials also make note of the importance of testing your smoke alarm and ensure that batteries are fresh and will last through the winter. Smoke alarms should be placed in the hallway outside the bedroom, in each bedroom, and on every floor regardless of whether there is a bedroom on that floor, officials said.
Residents are also reminded to cover their fireplaces with a screen to protect any sparks from leaving the fireplace, while also keeping kids and pets at least three feet away from a burning fireplace.
Authorities also issued warnings on lit candles and space heaters. Candles can easily be knocked over by kids or pets, and residents are reminded only to light candles when they are alert and able to watch them. Space heaters require a good amount of space to be used without any fire hazards.
“Just like fireplaces, children and pets should not sit closer than three feet in front of a space heater,” officials said. “Avoid placing heaters near curtains, tablecloths or other flapping fabrics.
“Always make sure your space heater has an automatic shut off switch, which forces the heater to shut-off as soon as it reaches a dangerously high heat level.”
For more information, visit www.sbcfire.com.
— Mitchell White