Murder suspect in Santa Maria standoff shoots himself

Crime tape surrounds the white van where an Oakland murder suspect was holed up Friday morning at a truck stop on Betteravia Road in Santa Maria.
Crime tape surrounds the white van where an Oakland murder suspect was holed up Friday morning at a truck stop on Betteravia Road in Santa Maria.

A murder suspect from Oakland who had been barricaded in a white van at a truck stop near Santa Maria was airlifted Friday to a Santa Barbara hospital after shooting himself.

The incident occurred at a truck stop on Betteravia Road, just east of Highway 101, according Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Department and Santa Maria police received information about 4:45 a.m. that the suspect, whose name was not released, was in the area, and he was in a white van at the truck stop, Hoover said.

The sheriff’s hostage-negotiation team contacted the man via his cellphone and tried to get him to surrender peacefully, Hoover said, adding that the man was believed to be armed.

“Unfortunately, after several hours, at approximately 9:15, two shots were fired. They came from the suspect inside the vehicle,” Hoover said.

“At no time were shots fired by deputies or officers,” she said. “The suspect injured himself.”

A Calstar medical helicopter was dispatched for the gunshot victim, with the aircraft landing on the Betteravia Road overpass to pick up the patient.

A short time later, the copter lifted off for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with the suspect on board, according to emergency radio traffic.

The man was sought in connection with a homicide that occurred about 10 a.m. Thursday in Oakland.

A 30-year-old man was killed in the homicide that the East Bay Times said occurred in a live-work building.

“Other than that, we don’t have any additional information to release,” Hoover said Friday morning. “The victim in that case, the family has not been notified, so we’re unable to release the name of the victim.”

The incident involved “a great collaboration” between the Oakland Police Department, Santa Maria police, the CHP and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Hoover said.

“They all worked together throughout the night to pinpoint where the suspect was and to locate him here in Santa Maria,” Hoover added.

Hoover said law enforcement officers used “investigative means” to locate the homicide suspect, but she declined to elaborate.

The truck stop and adjacent Pappy’s Restaurant were evacuated, along with several big rigs parked in the area, and a Bear armored vehicle was on scene.

“This definitely was a potentially dangerous situation,” Hoover said. “We had a suspect wanted for a homicide yesterday who is barricaded inside his vehicle, and he was known to be armed as well. There was a concern for the immediate area.”

Employees and a delivery person inside Pappy’s Restaurant were told to shelter in place, a cook said.

The incident occurred before the popular restaurant was due to open at 6 a.m.

About 9:40 a.m., several of the semitrailers were allowed to leave the area.

Betteravia Road was shut down from College Drive to Telephone Road, as were the freeway ramps in the area.

There was no information on the suspect’s condition.