The gunman, Santa Barbara resident Eddie Van Tassel.

Paul Wellman

The gunman, Santa Barbara resident Eddie Van Tassel.

UPDATED: Avoid the 101

Man with Gun Forces Police to Close Highway

A man in Army fatigues with a handgun has caused quite the commotion for morning commuters, as Santa Barbara police are attempting to coax him off the La Cumbre Street overpass Monday morning.

According to Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, just after 7 a.m., police received a call of a suspicious man in the area, and responded to find the suspect waving an American flag and armed with the handgun.

La Cumbre from Modoc through the other side of the freeway has been shut down, as has Highway 101 in both directions, causing quite a backup during rush hour traffic.

The CHP is reporting several vehicles trying to exit Highway 101 via the onramp at Turnpike, while traffic going the opposite direction is reportedly backed up to Montecito. A S.W.A.T team has been brought in to negotiate.

UPDATE: Caltrans highway cameras at Milpas show clear traffic in both directions, though the Bath Street camera still shows backup. Visit to check out the cameras.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Approximately 10 minutes ago, officers arrested the man. They had stun guns readied, but they apparently did not need to use them, according to a KEYT-TV news report. Officers allowed the man to make a statement, which included posting an Obama-Biden sign on the overpass’s chain link fence.

It’s also worth noting that KEYT, the only area TV station broadcasting live coverage of the events on the overpass, was nonfunctional during the final moments of the incident as a result of a transformer on Montecito Street. Around the time the gunman seemed to be surrendering, KEYT cut back to regular programming, the talk show The View. After a few minutes of that, the screen went black with white text counting the amount of time the the station has lacked video. The station return to broadcasting The View about 10 minutes later and has been flickering in and out of commission ever since.

The 101 reportedly is still closed.

FINAL UPDATE: Traffic cleared mid-afternoon; a subsequent article will carry full details of this event.

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