A man wielding a makeshift bamboo shank was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a fire bomb, which authorities found later in his car.

Jose Juan Bernal

Jose Juan Bernal, a 36-year-old Isla Vista resident, allegedly attacked his estranged wife’s boyfriend on September 22 in the 600 block of San Pascual Street, police said. Bernal was initially arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. However, after searching his vehicle, officials found an improvised fire bomb made out of batteries, wiring, toilet paper, and a butane lighter, a press release said. Possession of a deadly device near a public place or private home was then added to his charges.

The homemade firebomb was designed to set itself and other nearby objects on fire, officials said. The Sheriff’s Bomb Squad responded and dismantled the device.

On the morning of the attack, Bernal reportedly followed the victim, who was picking up his coworker on their way to work. A fight broke out between the two men and Bernal stabbed the 35-year-old victim in the chest with his bamboo shank, which had a three-inch piece of metal affixed to it, according to an SBPD media release.

Bernal left the scene and drove to his estranged-wife’s home in the 700 block of West Cota Street. After speaking with her briefly, he attempted to leave but was blocked in his parking space by the victim’s car. The victim told his attacker that he was calling the police and Bernal fled the scene on foot.

At 7:49 a.m. officers from the Santa Barbara Police Department responded to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon, stopping Bernal as he walked towards the Ortega Street footbridge. Bernal was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for the felonies with a $50,000 bail.

The victim was treated by paramedics for a puncture wound to the chest, but declined further care.


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