STILL SAFE: At a press conference on the steps of City Hall following the third murder of a teenager in the past 18 months, Police Chief Cam Sanchez said the city "is and remains one of the safest cities in the state."

Three teenagers-including the victim’s brother-have been charged as adults with murder and conspiracy to commit murder stemming from the Fourth of July stabbing death of a 15-year-old along Cabrillo Boulevard, not long before the annual fireworks show commenced.

The slain boy has been identified as Emmanuel Roldan. His brother David is one of four people who were arraigned in Santa Barbara Superior Court Monday in connection with the stabbings. David Roldan, Victor Arroyo, and Daniel Cervantes-all between ages 15 and 17 years old-along with 21-year-old Miguel Marquez, have additionally been charged with street terrorism. The decision to charge the three juveniles as adults “was thoroughly considered given the circumstances and gravity of the offense and the facts pertaining to the case,” said Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Smith, who filed the charges Monday.

In addition, the charges have special gang allegations, and Marquez has also been charged with assault with the use of a deadly weapon regarding an attack on a different victim that night. It is alleged in filed court papers that the four suspects were looking for Eastside gang members, suggesting they were Westside gang members thus lending further credence to unconfirmed talk circulating that the victim, who lived on the Westside, was stabbed by one of his own.

The Fourth of July fireworks and festivities taking place along East Beach on a nearly smoke-free Santa Barbara night served as the backdrop to the murder crime scene. The beaches were packed with people there to take in the show, scheduled to begin at roughly 9:30 p.m., though the large crowd apparently did little to deter Santa Barbara’s gang violence.

Police received a call at 8:52 p.m. of a fight near the beach at the 1200 block of East Cabrillo, just east of the Mar Monte Hotel, where 30 to 35 people were rumbling. Four people aged 19 to 25 were arrested in that incident, which police called gang-related. Witnesses report a highly-charged Eastside neighborhood off Milpas around that same time.

Not 25 minutes later, at 9:16, police were called to the foot of Stearns Wharf at Cabrillo and State, where they found a 15-year-old who had been stabbed. Within moments, another call came in, and police arrived at the 200 block of Cabrillo to find 15-year-old Raldon seriously injured from stab wounds and unresponsive. He was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but died from his injuries. A third teenager with stab wounds was taken to the hospital by his parents; he told authorities he was knifed in the vicinity of the other two incidents.

The Roldan brothers are sons of active parishioners at Holy Cross Catholic Church, according to Fr. Ludo DeClippel. The family lives in an apartment complex on Ladera Lane on the lower Westside, one of the poorest parts of town and only a few blocks from where a gang-related murder took place last July. Roldan’s parents-celebrating the holiday on the beach-saw ambulances and police responding to the fracas on Cabrillo, but didn’t find out until later that their son was involved, said DeClippel, who arrived at the hospital after midnight, after the boy had already died. The family didn’t respond to phone calls, but a death notice sent to The Independent for publication described their son as a victim of a “tragic and senseless stabbing incident.” It isn’t known whether Emmanuel Raldon himself was a gang member.

No further information about the murder suspects or the victims has been released by the police department. Police spokesman Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte has been tightlipped regarding the details of the case, citing an ongoing investigation. He declined to confirm whether all three stabbing incidents took place in the same vicinity and then the victims scattered, or if the victims were attacked separately one at a time. Duarte also didn’t reveal whether the victims were involved in an altercation or simply attacked.

In total, 10 people were arrested by police, six of whom were juveniles. Of those 10, three of the adults-Richard Garcia, Edwin Miguel, and Manuel Lira-and three juveniles were arrested in relation to the case, but charges haven’t been brought against them yet. Those arrested were of both Eastside and Westside gangs, Duarte said.

At the behest of the County Probation Department, and in what appears to be a growing trend before major Santa Barbara events, parole and probation violation searches were conducted on July 2 and 3, yielding 44 homes visited and 11 arrests. In each of the past three Fourth’s, gang violence has erupted on or near Stearns Wharf. Last year, there were a handful of gang skirmishes both before and after the fireworks show, leading to the arrest of seven gang members or associates, and an injured knee for Sgt. Ralph Molina, who in trying to break up a gang melee, sustained the injury, which kept him out of work for eight months. There were no reports of weapons used last year, however.

This is the third teenager-involved stabbing murder in less than 18 months in picturesque Santa Barbara, and its occurrence amid thousands of people has once again left the community shaken. In addition to the murders, there has been a bevy of stabbings throughout the city over the past year. From downtown to uptown, Eastside to Westside, dozens of knives have been drawn and used in gang activity. But unlike previous gang slayings, this one was immediately greeted with a unified show of outrage, sorrow, and concern by elected officials throughout the South Coast.

On hand for a press conference in front of Santa Barbara City Hall late Saturday afternoon was Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and four council members, two school boardmembers and school chief Brian Sarvis, First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, and Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez. Sanchez decried the killing as a senseless act and vowed zero tolerance of further gang mayhem.

He also talked about his participation in a broader effort to turn away 83 at-risk juveniles from a life defined by gang culture and its attendant violence. Some have been placed in jobs, others are receiving training in the art of seeking employment, and others are back in school in an effort to achieve a high school diploma.

Despite the disturbing trend of stabbing murders in Santa Barbara, Sanchez said the city “is and remains one of the safest cities in the state.” City Hall, the S.B. school district, and a variety of South Coast non-profits continue struggling to cobble together a series of programs that target those most likely to become enmeshed in gang life and provide attractive alternatives.

The Roldan murder comes as Ricardo Juarez, a then-14-year-old charged as an adult with murder in a March 2006 stabbing on State Street, prepares to head to trial. He is accused of killing 15-year-old Luis Angel Linares after stabbing him during what has been described as a melee in the middle of the afternoon involving dozens of teens. Several were arrested in connection with the murder, which awakened the community to the ugly fact that gang activity was alive and well in its city. Monday Judge Frank Ochoa denied a motion to dismiss murder charges with gang enhancements levied against Juarez, whose trial is anticipated to begin this month.

The murder also comes as preparations are made for a July 17 memorial mass to remember the loss of 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure one year ago. Four months after Linares was killed, Carachure was walking home from his job as a dishwasher, when he and two others were jumped by a group and knifed. All three were taken to Cottage Hospital, but Carachure didn’t survive his stab wounds. Three men and four juveniles were arrested in connection with Carachure’s death. The three adults are scheduled to appear in court next month. Both of those murders have been called gang-related by authorities.

Visitation will take place at Holy Cross Church, 1740 Cliff Drive, Thursday, July 10, from noon to 7 p.m., followed by a rosary service. A funeral will be held Friday, July 11, at 10 a.m. Last Sunday, members of a Westside youth group held a car wash at Holy Cross to raise money for Roldan’s family.


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