Crime

More details released about fatal officer-involved shooting in Goleta

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

A man who was shot to death by Santa Barbara police officers at an apartment near Goleta last week was wanted in connection with a gang-related shooting, according to a statement released Wednesday afternoon by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

Francisco Anthony Alcaraz Jr., 32, “was a documented gang member from the Santa Barbara area, and was wanted for attempted murder due to his involvement in a suspected gang related shooting,” said Kelly Hoover, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

As officers approached the unit at the Positano Apartments at Turnpike Road and Camino De Vida at about 12:45 p.m. on May 7, Alcaraz “shot at them from the second story stairwell of his apartment and then from an upstairs rear bedroom window,” Hoover said.

Armed with a .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun, Alcaraz fired six rounds at the officers, one of which struck an officer in the pant leg, Hoover said.

Another round struck an armored SWAT vehicle where officers were taking cover, she added, but none of the officers was injured. Five officers shot back at Alcaraz, firing off a total of 58 rounds, Hoover said.

“An autopsy revealed that the suspect was struck four times, and that he died as a result of his injuries,” Hoover said. “Preliminary indications are that none of the gunshot wounds were self-inflicted.”

Due to the ongoing investigation, Hoover said she could not provide details about the shooting Alcaraz was allegedly involved with.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the officer-involved shooting, and “once the investigation is complete, it will be forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for review,” Hoover said.

Alcaraz lived in Lompoc, Hoover said, but was known to frequent the apartment near Goleta where his wife and four children resided.

“The warrant, a planned SWAT operation, was served at a time when Alcaraz was determined to be alone inside the apartment,” she said.

As the incident unfolded, police commanders attempted to contact Alcaraz, and eventually 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., authorites confirmed that Alcaraz had been found dead in the residence.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court records show numerous criminal cases involving Alcaraz dating back to at least 2006, including probation violations, weapons and drug charges, and spousal battery.

He was sentenced to state prison for 2 years and 8 months in May 2017, with credit for time served and good conduct.

Hoover said she did not know when he was released from prison.

During the May 7 incident, residents in nearby apartments initially were told to shelter in place, but most eventually were evacuated.

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.

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 arteries, including Cathedral Oaks Road and Hollister Avenue.

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

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