The man shot by a Santa Barbara homeowner Wednesday after trying to break into the family’s home on the 900 block of West Pedregosa Street remained under constant guard at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Thursday, and police are not yet releasing his name.
Detectives want to interview people associated with the man, described only as a 33-year-old white male who lives in the same neighborhood as the victims, as well as the suspect himself before the name becomes public, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.
Police received disturbance calls from two homes on the 900 block of West Pedregosa Street at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, and upon arrival found that one homeowner had shot the suspect in the right leg.
The homeowner, a 54-year-old man who lives at the residence with his wife and son, heard the man knocking on his front door and muttering something about money. After being told to leave, the suspect forcefully kicked the front door, moved to the back and began breaking through a set of glass French doors by kicking and hitting them with a lantern from the patio, police said.
The homeowner fired a warning shot through the door with an M-1 carbine rifle that he owned, but when the man didn’t stop, fired a second round that hit him in the leg.
“He was really shaken by the incident,” Harwood said of the homeowner. “When our detectives were talking to him here at the station, it really seemed like genuine emotion he was experiencing.”
Authorities say the suspect, who had no prior relationship with the home’s residents, approached another home first, and that resident warned him to leave. When he left, smashing through a gate to approach the other home, the woman called 9-1-1 and said the suspect was acting strangely, as if in an altered state of mind.
The suspect was arrested on suspicion of burglary, vandalism and prowling and taken to the hospital, where officers are guarding his room until he can be taken to the County Jail. The wound was serious, Harwood said, and the suspect is likely to stay in the hospital through the weekend.
The Crimes Against Persons Unit is investigating the incident. Harwood said the homeowner is considered a victim, not another suspect.
The Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida sparked interest in — and outrage about — “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow people in certain states to use force in self-defense if they have a reasonable fear of a threat, without having to “retreat” first.
California does not have such a law; instead, the penal code’s “castle doctrine” assumes people have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury” if they’re in an occupied home and someone unlawfully or forcibly enters the home, making it justifiable force used against the intruder.