Ice Cream Cone Sparks Melee on State Street

A Fracas in Downtown Santa Barbara Between an Oxnard Family and Three Street People Turned Violent Wednesday

Santa Barbara Police on the scene | Credit: Paul Wellman

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Eight Santa Barbara police officers responded to a brief melee on the 700 block of State Street Wednesday involving an elderly couple from Oxnard — both 71 — and their 13-year-old grandson with a romantically engaged couple of street people — both 23-year-old “travelers” — who’d been in town only a few days. The fight started when the Oxnard couple’s grandson discarded the remains of an ice cream cone purchased at Rite-Aid into a trash can at the same time a street person from Santa Barbara — known to police for more than 20 years — was trying to extract recyclable bottles and cans from it. 

Taking offense, the Santa Barbara street person started lobbing F-bombs at the Oxnard couple and their grandson. The grandfather retaliated by launching a few F-bombs back. Among this fusillade of F-bombs, the warring parties moved up the street, maintaining all the while a safe distance from each other. 

This was witnessed by the 23-year-old couple, prompting the young woman — five feet tall, 104 pounds, and reportedly acutely mentally ill — to launch herself onto the Oxnard grandfather’s back. According to city police, she believed an inequitable situation was playing out in front of her between the Oxnard visitors and the Santa Barbara street person and was seeking to redress that imbalance. 

When the Oxnard grandmother intervened, trying to remove the young woman from her husband’s back, the 23-year-old smacked her across the face for her efforts, thus breaking the grandmother’s glasses and inflicting at least one laceration to her face. 

At some point, the 23-year-old’s boyfriend jumped in. As this fracas evolved into a full-fledged melee, several bystanders sought to intervene, one a longtime city employee who works for the streets division. 

By the time the eight officers arrived, the exchange had concluded. Officers found the attacking couple by State and De la Guerra streets and apprehended them without incident.

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