The main drag of the City of Santa Barbara closed down Thursday afternoon while police officers disarmed a man in a purple Lexus SUV who had pointed his gun at the driver behind him. About 75 people witnessed the altercation, said Anthony Wagner, spokesperson for SBPD, and they all agreed that Chris Michael Bair, 34, had pointed his Glock at an older man, who had not threatened him, during an argument over parking on State Street.
Bair had apparently confronted the other man, who was driving a silver Porsche, after jumping out of his SUV, which was parked in a red zone in front of Rocket Fizz at 1021 State Street. He and the man for whom he is a bodyguard — an Orange County attorney who was sitting in the front passenger seat — were waiting for four teenage girls in the store, said Wagner. The Porsche driver had apparently taken exception to the SUV parking on State Street, and the altercation ensued.
Bair made a “criminal terrorist threat,” according to Wagner, apparently shouting, “I’m going to kick your ass” and pointing the gun at the Porsche driver, who was about 10 yards away, and then announcing, “I have a concealed carry.” The standard for pulling out a weapon is the same for those with a concealed-carry license as it is for police officers, said Wagner; it’s only warranted if your life is threatened. Bair claimed he feared the Porsche driver’s cane, which witnesses said was only used to steady the older man. The Glock was found to be fully loaded with a 40-caliber bullet in the chamber.
Police arrived within minutes, shutting down the entire block, which holds Montecito Bank & Trust, attorney firms, and Saks. They took down both Bair and his client at gunpoint, forcing them to lie in the street while Bair was disarmed. He had holstered his gun by then. Wagner said this all occurred while the police department was also responding to a Montecito burglary suspect, who was running down the train tracks near the Music Academy, and an injury-accident on Cabrillo Boulevard. “That was quite an hour,” he said.
Bair was booked into County Jail on $50,000 bail on a misdemeanor brandishing a gun and a felony making terrorist threats. His Carry Concealed Weapon license, issued in Orange County, is likely to be revoked if the felony sticks. It’s also likely, said Orange County Sheriff’s spokesperson Carrie Braun, that the sheriff would suspend Bair’s license for violating the “good moral character” requirement until the felony allegation concludes.