Carjacker scared off by woman's screams at Chumash Casino

jhickey@thetribunenews.comAugust 6, 2013 

Michael Howard Burritt

An attempted carjacking at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez was thwarted Tuesday when the victim's screams sent the panicked suspect scrambling out of the car, authorities said.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., a woman was getting into her car in the casino's parking structure when a man jumped into it, put a knife to her throat and ordered her to drive, according to a news release by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman managed to open the driver’s side door and yell for help. The carjacker — identified as 46-year-old Michael Howard Burritt of Lompoc — became panicked, crawled over her and ran out the open door. He fled the parking structure and ran into a nearby creek area.

Sheriff’s deputies responded, set up a perimeter and brought in a K-9 unit to help search for the suspect. Burritt was spotted, and after a brief foot pursuit, he jumped into some bushes near Highway 246 just east of Via Juana Road. The K-9, named Gango, located and removed him from the bushes.

Burritt was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery. He had warrants issued for his arrest in several counties.

His wife, 47-year-old Diane Evelyn Burritt, was in the casino at the time of the incident. She was also found to have a warrant out for her arrest. The couple was taken to Santa Barbara County Jail, where Michael Burritt is being held without bail; Diane Burritt’s bail is set at $5,000.

The victim received a small laceration on her hand. Burritt had multiple cuts and punctures on his hands and torso area. No deputies were injured, but K-9 Gango received two puncture wounds on one of his rear legs, likely caused by a barbed wire fence during the pursuit.

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