A view of the entrance to Santa Barbara's South County Jail. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

One minute before 7 a.m. this Wednesday, a nurse for the Veterans Administration was assaulted in the Public Health Department parking lot by a man recently released from County Jail. 

The nurse, not named, was going to work when she was grabbed by a stick-wielding assailant. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the assailant was Nicholas Sutton, age 31. The victim said Sutton swung a stick at her, grabbed her coffee, threw it to the ground, and attempted to grab her purse. He also threw rocks at a passing bus. 

Sutton then reportedly broke the stick in half over his leg and made stabbing motions toward the victim. She managed to run away and did not sustain any physical injuries but was badly shaken up. 

Sutton, described as a “transient,” was arrested 20 yards from where the initial contact took place after a short pursuit. He is now being held on $100,000 bail and facing felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on elders, vandalism, and throwing substances at a vehicle. The charges for which Sutton was most recently incarcerated were not available, nor was how long he’d been held.

The jail is part of the sprawling campus of county government buildings including County Public Health, which the VA offices adjoin. The VA clinic reportedly has a security guard posted inside, but not outside.

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