Santa Barbara Police Department | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

A Santa Barbara man has been charged with a number of crimes after a string of incidents over a three-day period in which multiple women — all aged 21 to 24 — were assaulted, spit on, and grabbed by the suspect, who authorities said appeared to be targeting female victims.

According to a statement from Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale, just before 7 a.m. on the Lower Westside near Gutierrez on October 5, a 24-year-old female victim reported a battery. The victim said she was walking to her vehicle when the suspect, unknown and unprovoked, approached her and spat on her face.

Roughly 30 minutes later, officers responded to another battery a short walking distance away, Ragsdale said, in which a different 24-year-old female victim was approached by an unknown male suspect who “grabbed her by the arm and shoved her into a vehicle she was preparing to enter.” As the victim tried to flee, the suspect allegedly also spat on the vehicle.

Both victims described the same suspect, and officers found a man in the area that matched the descriptions. They detained and identified the man, 39-year-old Santa Barbara resident Nathaniel Terrance Hunter, who after investigation was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges for the two incidents.

The next day, October 6, officers were investigating an incident that occurred early in the evening on October 4 in the Amtrak parking lot, where a 21-year-old female was confronted after parking her car. The suspect allegedly “made demands and advanced toward her,” and when she tried to move away from him, the suspect spat in the victim’s face. After investigating this incident further, Ragsdale said, it was determined an attempted robbery had occurred, and the suspect was identified by the victim as Hunter.

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At this point, Hunter was out of custody, and at 6 a.m. on October 7, an officer observed another incident in progress where a subject, later identified as Hunter, was “standing in the street in what appeared to be a confrontation with a female driver of a vehicle,” Ragsdale said.

Hunter was reportedly blocking the driver from moving, and dispatchers broadcast a police radio report of a subject blocking the street at the location.

The officer at the scene attempted to direct Hunter out of the street from a distance, when he allegedly “challenged the officer to fight, threatened him, and began approaching.” 

Backup arrived and attempted to arrest Hunter, Ragsdale said, when he “violently resisted” before being taken into custody. Two of the officers involved reportedly sustained minor abrasions in the altercation.

Hunter was booked on numerous charges stemming from the four cases, including multiple counts of battery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $500,000.

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