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.