A stabbing in the lower Westside of Santa Barbara was not gang-related, Santa Barbara police say, but a disagreement between two former friends which turned violent. Police have a 14-year-old suspect in custody, while the 14-year-old victim is in good condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, recovering from two stab wounds to the torso. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Police determined the suspect’s identity not long after the stabbing, which occurred at 3:35 p.m. on Thursday. They contacted the suspect’s parents, who allowed police to search their residence. The teen wasn’t home. He, along with his mother, turned up at the police department at about 9:30 Thursday night, where he was questioned and booked into Juvenile Hall.
The two teens know each other, and had at one time been friends, according to police. The victim was recently suspended from La Cumbre Middle School, while the suspect was recently suspended from La Colina Junior High. “Recently, there was a falling out due to the suspect’s belief that the victim had stolen some money,” said Lt. Paul McCaffrey of the Santa Barbara Police. The victim denied being the money thief, which allegedly wasn’t good enough for the suspect, who badgered the victim, telling him the day before the incident to watch his back. The suspect made another threat earlier Thursday, that time with a small hammer in hand.
A final front was made Thursday afternoon, and the victim agreed to a fight with the suspect – no weapons allowed. According to police, the victim was winning the fight when the suspect pulled a knife and stabbed the victim twice in the back. While the suspect fled, the victim made it to the house of a friend, who called for help.
While the victim is a known associate of a gang, and the suspect has been known to associate with gang members, police say the incident was an argument and falling out between friends rather than gang-related.
Still at issue, however, is the gang attitude pervasive in many of the city’s youth. “The broader issue of youth violence and running around with negative influences,” McCaffrey said. “A lot has to do with the gang mentality.”