A Mexican carniceria on Santa Barbara’s Eastside was recently the victim of a string of what the shop owner’s family says are racially motivated acts of vandalism, one of which was captured on the store’s Ring video footage, and another which left the shop’s front window shattered.
“I’ve been here for 30 years,” said Javier Lomeli, owner of Carniceria La Nueva, located on Haley Street. He said it was the second time he’s experienced these types of incidents, after the shop’s glass front doors were broken and replaced about five months ago. “I don’t know why — if they have something against me or Spanish-speaking people.”
The latest incidents started a little over a week ago, when a woman Lomeli described as a Caucasian “transient, about 50-60 years of age,” was trying to peel off the vinyl decals on the store’s front window. Lomeli says the same woman was later captured on the shop’s video doorbell camera a few days later, again attempting to remove the vinyl and shouting obscenities at the video camera and employees from Lito’s Mexican Restaurant next door.
On the footage obtained by the Independent, the woman is seen peeling the lettering from the window, while the Lito’s restaurant manager is asking her to leave. She can be heard shouting, “This is America, not Mexico,” and “You f—ing liars.” She then takes a few steps toward the restaurant employees, and says, “You’re all foreign murderers.”
“She yelled: ‘Go back to Mexico!’” Lomeli said.
Then last Sunday, after Lomeli had left for the day and was at home enjoying an afternoon barbecue, his son Rene Lomeli said the family received a notification that someone had thrown an object at the storefront window, shattering the glass.
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“I drove to the store and took pictures but didn’t catch anyone nearby,” Rene Lomeli said. The glass was shattered, but luckily the object did not completely break the window, he added. The store’s camera did not capture the incident or suspect.
Carniceria La Nueva had already been through a tough few years, starting with a fire in 2018 — when the shop was named Carniceria La Bodeguita — that left the building repairable but cost Lomeli an estimated $50,000 worth of damage and lost equipment. “I lost everything,” Javier Lomeli said.
When the Lomeli family rebuilt and reopened the store with a brand-new name, Carniceria la Nueva, it was thrown into a two-year pandemic that made it difficult for any small business to thrive.
“It’s not easy in the past couple years,” said Lomeli, who has had to take more time off recently after being diagnosed with cancer. “I’m just tired of this.”
A report was filed with the Santa Barbara Police Department, and a police spokesperson said the incident was being investigated. But no details were released as to whether the incidents were related or if they are being pursued as a hate crime.
Lomeli says police sent him a photo of the woman in question for identification but that he has not heard about any leads since last week.