More than a week after 32-year-old Francisco Alcaraz Jr. was killed in a shootout with police, the public is no closer to knowing what led to the midday gun battle that forced the evacuation of a Turnpike area apartment complex and lockdown of nearby San Marcos High School. Authorities have only stated that officers were attempting to serve a “high-risk” arrest warrant on Alcaraz, and that he died from “multiple gunshot wounds.” No other information has been released.
A person who lives near where the shooting took place said Alcaraz’s wife resides there with the couple’s four young children. Alcaraz often visited but wasn’t friendly with the other residents. He was “not the kind of person you’d wanna hang out with,” the neighbor said. The neighbor, who did not want to be identified, was home when Alcaraz was killed and said the shots rang out moments after police announced they had a warrant for his arrest. “It happened all really really fast,” they said. They huddled inside her apartment for 40 minutes before they were evacuated. “It felt like forever.”
Carlos Galindo lives a few doors down and said he’d see Alcaraz’s wife in passing but didn’t know her well. “She kind of kept to herself,” he said. “No one really knew who she was.” Galindo described a SWAT team descending on the area as Alcaraz and officers exchanged multiple volleys of gunfire. “I felt pretty safe since the police were there,” he said. “I wasn’t that scared.” Another neighbor said he had no contact with law enforcement during or after the incident and only learned what had happened through social media. Galindo said a number of evacuated residents were kept out of their homes through the night and into the next morning.
Alcaraz was an alleged member of Santa Barbara’s Eastside gang. According to court records, he was indicted in 2008 during a citywide crackdown on organized crime called “Gator Roll.” He was sentenced to a year in County Jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty to felony assault and gang enhancement charges. Since then, he’s had multiple contacts with police and cycled in and out of prison, mainly on probation violations, including for drug possession and spousal abuse. Alcaraz was known on the streets as “Stranger” and had reportedly risen up the ranks of his gang, graduating from “soldier” to “shot-caller.”
Alcaraz’s wife has reportedly been evicted from her apartment, and her family is asking for donations through a fundraising website to help with housing and funeral expenses.
Sofia Mejias contributed to this report.