Police arrested a 23-year-old Santa Barbara man early Sunday morning for felony battery resulting in great bodily injury. Tyler Lopez, a flight equipment technician with the United States Marine Corps, is accused of punching 26-year-old Alexander Milovich in the face at around 1:15 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot. The blow broke Milovich's nose and caused him to fall so hard he hit his head on the ground and sustained a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain.
Sergeant Riley Harwood said the victim and his companion had left The James Joyce bar downtown and were walking to their car. As the two approached, they encountered Lopez and three other individuals sitting in their own vehicle in the parking lot. A few words were exchanged, said Harwood, before Lopez allegedly exited his car, approached Milovich, and hit him. Milovich's friend called 911 and provided police with a description of the suspect's car and its license plate number.
An officer responded to the scene and found Milovich “unconscious and convulsing with a seizure, with blood on his face and on the ground,” Harwood said. Milovich was transported to Cottage Hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit with serious injuries.
A different officer quickly located the suspect vehicle a few blocks away and, after calling for backup, conducted a high-risk traffic stop. All four occupants were detained, including the driver, 31-year-old Santa Barbara resident Nicolas Ramirez. He was cited for DUI and possession of marijuana and released. An unloaded .22 magnum revolver, nine rounds of ammunition, and one spent cartridge casing were found inside the car before it was towed.
Milovich's friend was brought to the scene of the traffic stop and positively identified Lopez as the person who struck Milovich. Lopez was booked into County Jail with bail set at $50,000. He's scheduled to appear in court on February 22. Milovich and Lopez didn't know each other before the incident, said Harwood.
Lopez, a Dos Pueblos High School graduate, is based at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. It's not known if he has served on any overseas tours or why he was in Santa Barbara last weekend.
Due to Milovich's brain injury, he was initially unable to provide police with a statement. He was later interviewed at his home February 8 but couldn't recall many details of the night he was hurt. He's being cared for by his family and is expected to make a full recovery, said Harwood.
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