The longtime jeweler and Montecito resident who threatened to blow up his house in what detectives thought to be a suicide attempt appeared in court in a County Jail jumpsuit this week for a preliminary hearing. David Tallman, who is now 67, called police at about 3 a.m. on July 7 and made various threats, eliciting a heavy law enforcement response and the evacuation of nearby residents. Visiting Judge Barry Taylor held Tallman to answer on felony counts — arson of structure, criminal threats, resisting an executive officer, and violating a restraining order — and Tallman returns to court for arraignment on January 5.
On Wednesday and Thursday, prosecuting attorney Mary Barron called to the stand Detective Matt Banks, who testified that about 18-20 law enforcement officials responded to the scene that morning and that several others helped direct traffic for the five hours that Tallman barricaded himself inside his house. Tallman was reportedly upset about being evicted, Banks said, and was particularly angry with two deputies — referred to as the “eviction police” and “two pigs” — who had showed up to his house to conduct a welfare check two weeks earlier. During the welfare check, CARES — an acronym for Crisis and Recovery Emergency Services, a mental health crisis team — had also responded to the residence. Barron said she could not elaborate on the circumstances of that welfare check.
At one point during the standoff, Tallman told authorities he wanted those two deputies to come in front of his house and get down on their knees and apologize. Tallman later said he wanted the “two fat pigs 200 pounds each to die,” Banks testified.
The Sheriff’s department sent out reverse 9-1-1 calls to 143 neighbors at about 4 a.m., and the guests at the Montecito Inn evacuated to the All-Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church parking lot. The nearby highway on-ramp was shut down. Banks also read aloud statements from the dispatch log: “David keeps saying he is a master jeweler and he is ready to blow the whole fucking neighborhood.” He repeated several times, “We don’t care.”
Tallman claimed he had an AK-47, weapons, and C-4 inside the house, which Banks said was later discovered not to be true. Tallman also said he would not hurt anyone, Banks testified, and that he if fired a round of ammunition, it would go over the deputies’ heads.
Just after 8 a.m., a fire ignited in the living room. It was later extinguished. Soon after, Tallman was talked out of the house. He was transported to the hospital briefly and taken into custody from there. Later that morning at Sheriff’s headquarters, Banks interviewed the defendant. Tallman said he was upset about being evicted and that his life was falling apart.
During cross-examination, public defender Mark Owens contended that during the conversation, Tallman wasn’t interested in harming anyone but himself, emphasizing statements in the dispatch log that indicated Tallman didn’t want to burn down the neighbors’ houses. He had also spoken to the authorities on the phone about the time he spent in the psychiatric ward, telling deputies, “This will never happen again.”
Owens reiterated Tallman did not want to hurt anyone and had told everyone to put their heads down, adding that if he fired a round, it would go over their heads. Owens asked if CARES was contacted or if anyone responded to the scene; Banks said he did not know.
During his interview with Tallman, Banks testified it was clear that Tallman was suicidal and that he wanted to make a loud noise and kill himself. Tallman also brought up that he had been drinking and told Banks he had consumed a pint of vodka. Banks was not sure at what time he had stopped drinking.
Tallman appeared to be calmer when he was being interviewed, Banks said. “He was upset about what happened to him,” Banks said, adding Tallman said he “fucked up” and acknowledged he threatened to blow up houses and that his words had gotten him in trouble multiple times in the past.
Earlier this year, Tallman was featured in Montecito Journal for his work. The article states he moved to Montecito from Holland in 1970; he was born in Pasadena. He told the paper that December 3 marked 20 years of sobriety for him. A few of his friends were in court both days. He remains in custody on a $250,000 bail. If convicted, Tallman could be facing up to 10 years in state prison.