[UPDATE, 4:21 pm]: Information relayed to The Independent by Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars has shed light on details surrounding this afternoon’s incident in Goleta. Dispatchers received a call just after 1 pm of an aggressive panhandler in the area around Camino Real Marketplace, said Sugars, and as deputies responded they learned the subject might be carrying a gun.
Three deputies tracked the suspect to the field along Hollister Avenue and, upon seeing he was indeed in possession of a firearm, ordered him to drop it. He refused, and opened fire on the deputies with a “high-powered pellet gun,” said Sugars. One was hit in the face, and another was struck in the arm. Though the injuries are not life-threatening, said Sugars, they may require surgery.
All three deputies were able to return fire with their guns, striking the subject. He was taken into custody and transported to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, though his condition is unknown at this time.
The two deputies as well as the young male shooting victims were taken to Goleta Valley Hospital where they are being treated for their wounds.
[UPDATE, 4:04 pm]: The Independent has learned, after speaking with authorities on the scene as well as the victims themselves, that two young men were shot in the head by a man wielding a BB handgun earlier this afternoon. One of the victims was transported to a nearby hospital with a shot to his forehead, and the other is being treated at the scene for a minor wound to his face.
The victims said they were eating ice cream near the Camino Real shopping center when the suspect — who appeared to be homeless, they explained — approached them and asked for money. They refused, and the man immediately pulled out a gun from his backpack.
A third person with the victims took off running, but the other two — believing the firearm was an air-soft gun — stood their ground. The suspect quickly opened fire, they said, then started to run away. The two young men gave chase while authorities rushed to the scene.
Sheriff’s deputies, said the victims, pursued the suspect into the open field along Hollister Avenue across from the Jack in the Box. He was purportedly firing at the officers as he fled, and refused to drop his weapon.
At this point officers reportedly opened fire on the man, though it is not clear if they used lethal force or deployed rubber bullets or a tazer. The victims, though, said they heard gunshots from down the road. The suspect survived the exchange and is being treated at a nearby hospital.
The field is still cordoned off by yellow tape and the southbound lanes of Storke Road are currently blocked. After the situation was brought under control, one of the victims said he was glad to be safe. “It was a big relief,” he said. “I feel the relief now. At the time it was really scary.”
[ORIGINAL STORY]: Numerous sheriff’s deputies are responding to a call of an armed man near the Camino Real shopping center in Goleta.
Just after 1 pm, dispatchers received word of an altercation involving a man with a BB gun. Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Drew Sugars had no additional information, but the man reportedly opened fire. It isn’t clear if injuries have been reported.
As of 3:15 pm, multiple sheriff’s and CHP units remain on the scene, and they may still be searching for a suspect.
More coverage will be provided when details become available.