Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blotter features drunk driving and sting operations


Drunk drivers, domestic disturbances and sting operations kept Santa Barbara police occupied in recent days.

June 13, 8:17 p.m. — Police arrived at the intersection of San Andres and Micheltorena streets after receiving reports of an injury traffic collision. Authorities discovered a 49-year-old Santa Barbara woman had rear-ended another car. As they arrived on scene, officers watched as the woman drove onto Micheltorena Street, apparently planning to park along the curb. After nearly hitting a parked ambulance, she pulled over into a bush before finally stopping. Upon approaching the Lexus sedan, authorities immediately noticed a heavy odor of alcohol. Police arrested the driver for felony DUI and booked her into jail in lieu of $100,000 bail, a figure enhanced due to injuries suffered in the collision. The occupant of the rear-ended vehicle was taken to the hospital after complaining of lower back pain.

June 14, 9:32 p.m. — Emergency dispatchers received a 911 call from a 44-year-old woman who said she was having trouble with her husband over a custody dispute. After being transferred to a Santa Barbara police dispatcher, the woman hung up. Officers arrived at the address she had given to find the woman had left, but her former husband and his 14-year-old son remained. The man told police she had moved out more than a year ago after becoming involved in illegal drug and alcohol use. A week earlier, however, she had arrived at the home unannounced and attacked him with a frying pan. Police arrested her at that time, booking her for assault.
As officers continued talking to the man, the suspect called. He handed the phone over to police, who tried to talk to the woman but only got rambling complaints from the woman, apparently intoxicated, about what a bad person her husband was before she hung up. Authorities learned she had been incessantly calling since being released on her prior assault arrest and leaving profane messages.
The following day, at 3:53 p.m., police received a call from the woman’s former mother-in-law complaining that the suspect had been pounding on her door and refused to leave. By the time authorities arrived, the suspect had left. The 79-year-old victim said the suspect had been harassing her by phone since the day before and banged on the door for five minutes before leaving. She told police she was scared and afraid she wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. Police notified neighbors to be on the lookout for the suspect’s car.
Later that day, at 6:55 p.m., neighbors called to report spotting the car. Officers found it parked one block away with the 44-year-old suspect in the driver’s seat. As they approached, police noted a strong odor of alcohol and an open bottle of tequila in the passenger seat, nearly empty. The suspect was unsteady on her feet, had glassy and bloodshot eyes, and urinated on herself while talking to police. Authorities arrested her for reporting a false emergency, making harassing phone calls, elder abuse and public intoxication. Officers also requested bail enhancement to $100,000 due to her apparent out-of-control behavior.

June 17 — Authorities confirmed the body of a 39-year-old man discovered in Thornbury Park behind a condominium complex along Miramonte Drive had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A resident discovered the body while walking along a trail through the hilly terrain on June 15. Police noted at that time that a handgun had been recovered near the body and were investigating the incident as a suspicious death, but later ruled it a suicide.

June 17, noon to 8 p.m. — Santa Barbara police staged an undercover tobacco operation and cited seven clerks for selling cigarettes to two girls, aged 15 and 17, involved in the sting. Working in two teams, plainclothes officers entered stores with an underage decoy to observe what took place. The decoy approached clerks and asked for cigarettes. If the clerk asked for identification or age, the decoy presented her actual identification or gave her true age. If the clerk sold cigarettes to the girl, she exited the store and handed off the cigarettes and receipt to a waiting uniformed officer. That officer entered the store to cite the clerk and take photographs of evidence.
During the operation, officers targeted 40 locations and cited clerks at Cantwell’s Market (1533 State St.), AM/PM (1935 State St.), Longs Drug Store (3939 State St.), 7-Eleven (3430 State St.), USA Gas (8 S. Milpas St.), Circle K (200 S. Milpas St.), and Chevron 1085 Coast Village Rd.)

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