Santa Barbara Jail Escapee Caught After Air Support, K-9 Search

Nicholas Erickson Led Sheriff's Deputies on 90-Minute Chase, Causing Injury to Police Dog

Odin | Credit: Courtesy Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office

Santa Barbara County’s Main Jail went into lockdown shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday night, when 26-year-old inmate Nicholas Erickson — who was originally booked into the jail on June 18 facing five felony charges, including burglary, vandalism, vehicle theft, and committing a crime while released on bail — escaped the facility, leading a 90-minute chase that included a County Air Support and K-9 units.

According to Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Raquel Zick, the facility was immediately locked down and patrol was notified and began a search within minutes of the escape. Sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter, and at least two K-9 units were called in to assist, along with a Cessna 206 airplane to survey the area.

A resident spotted what appeared to be Erickson near Sierra Madre, between the jail on Calle Real and Cathedral Oaks. Deputies and air support were able to track Erickson as he made his way through the brush toward the residential area on Oak Glen.

The K-9 unit of Sheriff’s Deputy Philip Farley and his German shepherd, Odin, made contact with the suspect, who reportedly “feigned surrender” at first, before failing to comply with verbal demands and fleeing again toward Oak Glen.

Odin gave chase and “tumbled down a hill and fell from an 8-10-foot drop” onto a sidewalk before apprehending Erickson shortly before 8:30 p.m. The suspect sustained minor injuries, and Odin was treated at a local veterinary hospital for a leg injury.

In addition to his original charges, which included previous outstanding warrants for theft and elder abuse, Erickson was re-booked into the jail with new charges of escape (felony), obstruction (misdemeanor), and harming a police dog (misdemeanor). He is being held on $200,000 bail. “Custody staff are conducting a thorough and ongoing internal investigation into this escape,” Zick said. “The method of escape and details that compromise jail security are not available for release.

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