Richard and Nikki Cardona | Courtesy: Juliana Cardona and family.

A shooting at Pacifica Suites in Goleta left one man dead, just 20 minutes after he arrived at the hospital bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Richard Cardona, a 43-year-old Goleta local, was pronounced dead at 9:40 p.m. on Thursday, February 10.

His family was shocked when they heard of his death. His daughter, Juliana Cardona, said he was a family man who was there even when he struggled with his own dark days. Her mother, Nikki Cardona, and sister, Elisa, were always his priority, along with his brother, Ruben Salazar.

“He was a very loving, open-hearted, funny, loyal family man,” said Juliana. “He would have done anything for his family.” 

Richard Cardona with his daughters, Juliana and Elisa. | Courtesy: Juliana Cardona and family.

According to Santa Barbara Superior Court records, Cardona had been charged with several low-level misdemeanors, including drug possession — something his family said he had been struggling with off and on for the past few years.

“He was battling his own demons but still was always there for his children and family,” his daughter said. “He was my best friend and my everything, and it’s going to be hard without him.”

The night of the shooting, Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of shots fired at the Goleta hotel only to find broken glass and a pool of blood — the shooter and victim were nowhere to be seen. Because of the amount of blood, authorities alerted nearby hospitals that somebody would likely come in with a gunshot wound,

It was later reported that Cardona arrived at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital just over an hour after the shooting, bleeding from the head and in need of urgent care. Twenty minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

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The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office arrested two suspects — 34-year-old Isaiah Alexander and 36-year-old Anthony Torres Lopez Jr. — in the days following the incident. Alexander was charged with felony first-degree murder, along with a host of other charges stemming from previous burglaries and an open case for which he was out on bail at the time. District Attorney Joyce Dudley announced that he will be facing at least five felony counts: murder, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, shooting at an inhabited vehicle, residential burglary, and commercial burglary, for various incidents from February 10-14. He is also charged with special allegations for previously having been convicted of two prior violent strikes, personal use of a firearm, and being out on bail on two separate cases during the commission of the charged offenses. He is now being held at Santa Barbara’s Main Jail on a $2 million bail.

Lopez’s arrest was announced in connection with the crime, but he is not charged with murder. He faces charges of robbery, possession of a firearm, and attempted extortion and is currently being held without bail.

Investigators said that the suspects and Cardona were “familiar” with each other and that this was not a random attack. Both face preliminary setting hearings this week.

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