Crime

Officers met with gunfire serving a warrant in neighborhood near Goleta

Santa Barbara police officers attempting to serve “high risk” warrants at an apartment near Goleta were met with at least two flurries of gunfire Tuesday afternoon, triggering an hours-long incident that ended when the suspect was found dead.

Police SWAT and crisis negotiators arrived at the Positano Apartments at Turnpike Road and Camino De Vida at about 12:45 p.m. to serve search and arrest warrants on the wanted man, according to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesman Anthony Wagner

As the officers approached the apartment, the man — identified late Tuesday night as Francisco Anthony Alcaraz Jr., 32 — began shooting at them and at a Bearcat armored vehicle that they had deployed, said Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

“The officers returned fire,” Hoover said, adding that she did not know whether Alcaraz was hit by their rounds.

Negotiators attempted to make contact with the man, to urge him to surrender, Wagner said, and eventually did talk to him.

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Law enforcement responds to an apartment complex near Goleta Tuesday afternoon after a man reportedly fired shots at officers serving a warrant. No one was injured, police said. Tom Bolton Noozhawk.com

Incident commanders sent a robot into the apartment to survey the scene.

After determining the first floor was unoccupied, the robot was manuevered up the stairs, where Alcaraz was found lying on the floor in a bedroom, according to emergency radio traffic.

The robot was able to grab a hold of Alcaraz, but he did not respond, according to radio traffic.

At about 3:40 p.m., Wagner confirmed to Noozhawk that the suspect had been found dead in the residence.

Alcaraz appeared to have succumbed to one or more gunshot wounds, Hoover said, but it was not immediately known whether he had been shot by officers or had shot himself.

No officers or others were injured, Wagner said.

The Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau will determine the cause and manner of Alcaraz’s death, and the Sheriff’s Department will conduct an investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

Details about Alcaraz, including why he was wanted on the warrant, were not immediately available.

Residents in nearby apartments initially were told to shelter in place, but most eventually were evacuated, Hoover said, adding that a sheriff’s prison bus and MTD buses were pressed into service for that purpose.

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The CHP closed Highway 101 near Turnpike Road Tuesday afternoon due to a law enforcement response in the area. Tom Bolton Noozhawk.com

The incident prompted the lockdown of San Marcos High School across Turnpike Road, where students were kept in their classrooms until the 3:05 p.m. dismissal time, then allowed to leave from the Hollister Avenue side of the campus, said Kelly Moore, safety coordinator for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Students who parked in the school’s Turnpike Road lot were unable to retrieve their cars until after the incident had ended.

Because the unit where Alcaraz was barricaded is on the north side of the apartment complex, authorities closed all lanes of Highway 101 between Turnpike Road and Patterson Avenue, causing major traffic tie-ups on the freeway and other east-west arterials, including Cathedral Oaks Road and Hollister Avenue.

The highway was reopened at about 3:45 p.m.

Most residents were allowed back into the apartment complex Tuesday afternoon, but the County Office of Emergency Management said that some people who live in the building directly affected by the incident were being directed to a temporary shelter.

A sheriff’s forensics team was on scene, and a coroner’s van was seen arriving at about 4 p.m.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at 805.681.4150. To leave an anonymous tip, call 805.681.4171 or go to the sheriff’s website at www.sbsheriff.org/home/anonymous-tip/.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com and managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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