With not much to go on besides a body lying in the street discovered Sunday morning and statements from witnesses who saw an assault take place the night prior, Santa Barbara police arrested three men and three women-all Santa Barbara residents-in connection with the alleged stabbing murder of 22-year-old Baldemar Leal.
While police have suggested the incident was not gang-related, all six arrested for the murder and conspiracy to commit murder – Michel Flores, 30; Imelda Guevara, 30; Lilliana Arryaga, 18; Andrew Balderaz, 35; Jonathon Alonzo, 20; and David Martinez, 21 – are involved or associated with an area gang, though Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte declined to say which one. He also didn’t reveal where they lived, but did say in a press release that detectives will ask the District Attorney’s Office to review the investigation to consider filing gang enhancement charges. Leal, who had lived in the Santa Barbara area for roughly nine years, died from stab wounds to the upper torso in the same block, the 400 block of De la Vina Street, where he had moved in just days earlier. Though witnesses saw an assault taking place at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, no one called the police to report it. Leal’s body was discovered just before 7 a.m. Sunday. Though police believe some of his alleged attackers knew him, and though he had been arrested by police in the past, there is no indication Leal was involved with an area gang. It isn’t known how many times Leal was stabbed, or when investigators believe Leal died. No weapon has been recovered, and no drugs were found at the scene.