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Suspect Fatally Shot by Deputy on Highway 101 Had Criminal History

Santa Maria man's offenses dating back to 1998 were for nonviolent crimes and drug cases, according to court records

A burglary suspect shot dead by a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy after ramming his patrol car on the Santa Ynez River bridge near Buellton had a criminal history, but mainly for nonviolent drug offenses.

A burglary suspect shot dead by a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy after ramming his patrol car on the Santa Ynez River bridge near Buellton had a criminal history, but mainly for nonviolent drug offenses.  (Oscar Flores photo / KEYT.com)

By Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor | @tombol |

A burglary suspect who was shot to death by a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy this week had a lengthy criminal history, according to local court records, but nothing that would foreshadow such a violent end to his life.

Matthew Lyell Berg, 47, of Santa Maria had a string of criminal cases locally dating back to 1998, but all were nonviolent, and most were for misdemeanor drug crimes, according to records in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Berg was fatally shot by a deputy Monday afternoon after he attempted to ram a patrol car, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars. He was declared dead at the scene on the southbound Highway 101 bridge over the Santa Ynez River near Buellton.

The incident began about 12:45 p.m. Monday in the 2900 block of West Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, where a burglary was reported and a car driven by Berg was seen leaving the residence.

Deputies quickly located the suspect vehicle, and after a high-speed pursuit that included Berg driving the wrong way on Highway 101, the incident culminated with the suspect being shot.

Court records show that Berg was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2012 and 2010, and for trespassing in 2011. All were misdemeanor cases.

Earlier cases dating back to 1998 involved burglary, and possession or being under the influence of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors, records show.

The most serious case involved a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine — in 2000.

Details about the outcomes of those cases were not immediately available.

The officer-involved shooting remains under investigation, with the results expected to be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office once completed, probably in several weeks.

The deputy involved has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 07.07.12 @ 10:56 PM

I WAS RIGHT!!! for nonviolent crimes and drug cases, according to court records! This man had mental issues, & he was shot for no reason! & officer on leave with pay?
Its long over due that the officials get educated from ADMHS!Its time ADMSH do something good. Rather than spend their money on endless “lunch” meetings, & raises that are given to one another!  Long over due… What will happen as more get people get released & don’t have a treatment program to attend; where they can get help! Not on a waiting list! How many more will die? SAD…BECAUSE THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO TO SEEK HELP!

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