Police and fire personnel spent more than two hours Monday afternoon trying to coax an apparently suicidal and potentially dangerous woman out of a Lower Eastside apartment, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Officers responded to the 1100 block of Punta Gorda Street at about 2 p.m. on a report of a man locked out of an apartment by his roommate, said police Sgt. Riley Harwood.
Crisis negotiators made contact with a 26-year-old Spanish-speaking woman, who had locked herself in the apartment and refused to come out, said Harwood, who added that the woman was talking “gibberish” and suffering from mental-health problems.
The woman had been distraught for the last few days over a child-custody matter, Harwood said, adding that it took nearly two and a half hours before she was removed from the apartment.
At one point, she apparently had turned on the gas, prompting officials to shut off service to the home and evacuate nearby residents, Harwood said.
She lit several items on fire inside the unit, including garbage, towels, photographs and a broom, Harwood said, but was unsuccessful in starting a larger blaze.
She also had a knife, which she held to her own neck at several points, raising concern that she would harm herself, Harwood said.
At 4:19 p.m., while a set of storage drawers and other items were burning inside of the apartment, officers breached the front door and made entry, Harwood said. They quickly put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, and took the woman into custody.
She was taken by ambulance to Cottage Hospital for evaluation of both her mental and physical health, Harwood said.
Investigators are evaluating whether to purse the incident as a criminal matter or as a mental-health issue, Harwood said.