Following an unexplained, violent meltdown Tuesday evening, 44-year-old Santa Barbara resident Duane Chapman was pronounced dead today, June 2, at Cottage Hospital.
When the incident began at around 5:30 p.m. on May 31, Chapman and his girlfriend were in their second-story apartment, located at 26 Chapala Street, when Chapman reportedly began fighting with her. During the argument, according to Police Department spokesperson Lt. Paul McCaffrey, Chapman — covered in blood — broke furniture and prevented his girlfriend from leaving the apartment.
Hearing the commotion, two neighbors from another unit came in to intervene. The men managed to prop open the door just long enough to allow the girlfriend to escape and hide herself in a downstairs utility closet, said McCaffrey. She sustained injuries to her face, arms, and legs. The men then also took refuge in a neighboring apartment as an unhinged Chapman continued to yell threats.
Chapman then reportedly walked out onto his balcony with a large inflatable exercise ball and proceeded to bounce on it against the railing when he flipped over the top of the fencing and landed on a cluster of patio furniture below. When he got to his feet, witnesses had already begun accumulating around the scene, and the crowd amassed even more rapidly when authorities arrived following multiple 911 calls.
At this point, said McCaffrey, Chapman took out what was believed to be an 8-inch knife and swung it aggressively at the first officer on the scene. He came so close to the officer, in fact, that many onlookers thought he had stabbed him. The officer dodged the attack, however, and commanded Chapman to stop and sit down. Chapman continued to advance.
The officer then tasered Chapman, but he seemed unfazed by the electric shock and stayed on his feet. The officer was forced to tackle Chapman, said McCaffrey, with the help of an onlooker. Additional police officers arrived, and Chapman was handcuffed and taken away by ambulance, still kicking and resisting. He was transported to Cottage Hospital where he was admitted into ICU in critical condition.
Chapman’s girlfriend is in okay shape apart from the injuries to her body, but their apartment remains in shambles and covered with blood, said McCaffrey. While searching the apartment, police discovered approximately a pound of cut marijuana, scales, and related paraphernalia.
The cause of Chapman’s death has yet to be determined and police are awaiting the results of a toxicology report.