Santa Barbara Police arrested three people in connection with the assault of a witness to the fatal February 21 knifing of 22-year-old Baldemar Leal.
According to a police statement issued Thursday afternoon, the witness was assaulted in a restaurant on Thursday, February 26, by two Hispanic men. The witness told police that he remembered seeing the men seated in the restaurant with a woman moments before the attack.
An investigation of this matter then led police to arrest Paloma Elizabeth Rodriguez, 22; Isaac Isidoro Saldana, 20; and Roy Sarabia, 18. Search warrants were obtained for the three suspects’ homes, explained police spokesperson Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte, and information was allegedly obtained indicating that the attack on the witness was committed both to retaliate against him for speaking with police and also to deter other potential witnesses from doing so.
Rodriguez was arrested on charges of intimidating a witness and conspiracy to intimidate a witness. Saldana and Sarabia were each arrested on charges of witness intimidation, conspiracy to intimidate a witness, battery causing serious bodily injury, and a gang enhancement.
Duarte noted that neither the name of the witness nor the restaurant he worked at will be released in order to protect him from further repercussions for his involvement in the investigation.
Leal was allegedly stabbed to death on the 400 block of De la Vina Street around 9:30 p.m. Previous information from police on the murder have noted that though some people witnessed the attack, no one reported it. Leal’s body remained on the street until the following morning. Notably, police have so far refrained from saying that Leal’s murder was gang-related, though the six accused of killing him are all allegedly associated with a Santa Barbara gang.