By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Santa Barbara police officers are searching for suspects who escaped capture following an incident Monday evening that involved a shooting and car crash that left a person in critical condition and caused a tree to catch on fire.
The initial SWAT team-led search for the suspects came up empty-handed, despite officers reportedly deploying multiple rounds of less lethal munitions.
At about 5:20 p.m., 911 callers reported gunshots on Eucalyptus Hill Road near Salinas Street. Additional callers said a vehicle collided with a tree, causing the tree to catch on fire, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Officers arrived at the scene and found an adult male who had sustained significant injuries while inside the car that struck the tree. The victim was reportedly struck by gunfire, though in a press release, police only confirmed that shots had been fired in the immediate area and that a suspect or suspects were still nearby.
Emergency personnel transported the victim to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Meanwhile, a SWAT search for the suspect or suspects ensued.
Scanner traffic suggested, during the search, officers fired pepper balls at a shed in the backyard of a home, where a suspect was believed to be hiding. SWAT officers also reportedly used a robot, and they received assistance from a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office helicopter and K-9 units. Still, they failed to apprehend a suspect.
Authorities issued a shelter-in-place order that remained in effect in the area until 11 p.m.
Police say the incident was not a random act of violence. The police department’s criminal investigations team is handling the case.