Isla Vista | Credit: Courtesy

On Tuesday, a slew of social media posts from Isla Vista residents began circulating, warning people in the college town to stay vigilant as a suspected stalker was alleged to be following young women.

According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Raquel Zick, Deputy Jaycee Hunter on Monday began investigating stalking incidents in Isla Vista and learned that a suspect, later identified as 25-year-old Samuel Johnson of Santa Barbara, “had stalked several women in the Isla Vista area over the past three months” and had “sent several threatening and unwanted messages to the women and contacted them in person.”

Following the outpouring of attention on social media, Johnson was spotted on the 6800 block of Del Playa sitting on a public bench on May 31 at about 7:45 p.m. by a resident, who phoned 9-1-1. Sheriff’s deputies contacted Johnson and arrested him for felony stalking and misdemeanor hate crimes. He is being held on $300,000 bail in the Santa Barbara County Jail, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Fourth-year UCSB student Hollie Collins came into contact with Johnson this past weekend while she was walking her dog on the 6700 block of Del Playa Road. She described seeing him carrying a file labeled “Top Secret” and said that he was “very obviously” showing off the label to passersby. “I almost texted my housemates about it because it was weird and a little funny,” she said. “But then I was sent that post.”

Several women reported receiving text messages with veiled threats from an unknown number, which they assumed to be that of the arrested suspect. They likened the content within the texts to the misogynistic ravings of Elliot Rodgers — the 22-year-old who killed six people and injured 14 others in Isla Vista eight years ago.

CORRECTION: The date of Johnson’s arrest was May 31, not March 31 as it appeared in an earlier version of this story.

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