A recent spate of stabbings by adult gang members in Santa Barbara indicates that local knife violence is not only a problem among youth. On Thursday, a man returning home from an Eastside market was beaten and stabbed numerous times near the Cacique Street footbridge by a group of five men believed to be Westside gang members. According to police spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey, the gang members asked the man and his companion where they were from. When the men replied that they were born and raised on the Eastside, one of the gang members punched one of the men. “As the two started grappling, the gang member spurred a companion into action by shouting, ‘Stick him, stick him,’” whereupon the victim was stabbed in the back, McCaffrey wrote in an account of the crime. “Felled by his wounds,” the account continued, “the victim was set upon by the group of gang members.” The victim was admitted to Cottage Hospital in critical condition — later upgraded to stable — while officers worked through the night to solve the crime, making one arrest.
Eight Westside gang members were also arrested following a March 31 knife attack that left a 41-year-old man lying in critical condition in the 700 block of Wentworth Avenue, with multiple stab wounds to his front and back. Officers first arrested and charged Urria Tapia, 25, with attempted murder and possession of methamphetamine. An investigative dragnet during the succeeding week netted seven additional suspected Westside gang members ranging in age from 17 to 33. Four were arrested for parole violations, one for probation violation, and two for outstanding warrants.