Santa Barbara police arrest three suspects for murdering two teens

Omar Montiel-Hernandez and Angel Castillo


Law enforcement officers in Santa Barbara County arrested three alleged gang members Thursday morning who are suspected of murdering two teens earlier this year.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on Jan. 3, multiple people called 911 to report a shooting on Liberty Street near Canada Street in Santa Barbara. The shooting left four people injured, two of whom later died from their injuries. Angel Castillo, 17, and Omar Montiel-Hernandez, 18, later succumbed to their injuries.

On Thursday at about 8:30 a.m., Santa Barbara police officers and sheriff’s deputies served warrants at two locations in Carpinteria and at a home under construction in Summerland. Authorities arrested Angel Eduardo Varela, 26, Oscar Martin Trujillo-Gutierrez, 25, and Emilio Perez, 18, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department. 

Police took each of the suspects into custody on warrants for murder with enhancements for committing more than one murder and committing a murder to further the activities of gang. The suspects also face enhancements for using a gun in association with a criminal street gang, committing a felony in association with a criminal street gang and attempting murder with premeditation and deliberation.

Authorities booked Varela, Trujillo-Gutierrez and Perez in the Santa Barbara County Jail, where they are being held without bail. 

Police say they are still in communication with the families of the victims. Castillo loved his family, especially his little brother, and dreamed of owning an auto body shop.

Montiel-Hernandez looked out for his younger siblings. When he turned 18, Montiel-Hernandez told his mother it was his turn to start taking care of her, and he would often tell her “life is beautiful” in Spanish.