A gang altercation unfolded spectacularly in the San Andres neighborhood on Friday, Nov. 16. In the end, four men were arrested in connection with a gang assault that officers witnessed in progress. Enrique Moran, 20, Francisco Alcaraz, 20, and Jason Odale, 21, were allegedly driving in a car that Moran had borrowed from his girlfriend without permission. The three picked up a 15 year old and a 19 year old-both gang members or associates-and bought some beer. Then, at approximately 1:40 p.m., they were reportedly on the way to buy some marijuana when they stopped at the USA gas station on the corner of Carrillo and San Andres streets to exchange loose change for paper currency. While Moran and Odale were in the store, Alcaraz allegedly spotted an unidentified youth - whom detectives believe was associated with a rival gang - and confronted him with a butcher knife. Witnesses said that the Alcaraz’s victim ended up on the ground, with Alcaraz making downward stabbing motions with the knife. Somehow, the youth got to his feet and fled on foot down the street.
The five in the car began pursuit of the victim, when they were spotted by Officers Kushner and Cruz, who were patrolling the area. They observed the victim running up San Andres Street as bystanders waved their arms toward the victim. Officer Cruz got out of the patrol car and attempted to contact the fleeing victim. Then, the officers observed the five in pursuit of the victim speeding up San Andres Street from the gas station. Officer Kushner recognized the occupants as gang members from another side of town, and motioned for the vehicle to stop. Instead, the vehicle swerved around him and accelerated away. Officer Kushner followed them as Officer Cruz attempted to contact the still-fleeing victim. Officer Cruz flagged down a motorist in a pickup truck and continued his pursuit in the man’s truck. This unknown driver, with Officer Cruz as passenger, followed Officer Kushner, who was following the suspect vehicle. Meanwhile, police dispatch received phone calls reporting the knife assault at the USA gas station.
Eventually, the suspect vehicle lost control and ran partially off the road at San Pascual and Figueroa Street. Kushner and Cruz detained two suspects at the scene and recovered the large butcher knife from the vehicle. The other three suspects ran away, but police tracked them to a large drain pipe, where they emerged after a while, soaked with the stagnant water from inside. Police were not able to initiate contact with the fleeing victim, and are still searching for him. Anyone with information is urged to contact Sergeant Bernie Gaona, 897-2339.
Last week was a busy one for the Santa Barbara Police Department. On Tuesday, police arrested Santiago Garcia Hernandez, 25, on the 1000 block of San Andres Street after he attempted to sell cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was allegedly in possession of cocaine powder and crack cocaine. Following the arrest, police conducted a two-day anti-drug sweep near the corner of Yanonali and Cesar Chavez streets. Undercover officers arrested eight people in the two days, including Ernesto Ventura for possession of crack cocaine, Jose Garcia for possession of powder cocaine, Henry Paul Rojo for possession of powder cocaine, and Clifford Johnson for possession of powdered cocaine. The other arrests were for misdemeanor warrants and possession of drug paraphernalia. The SBPD plans to work with the Highway Patrol and CalTrans to clear the brush along the freeway that obscures unscrupulous activity from view of the public.