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Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr. had quite the day Jan. 8. First, the Santa Barbara tough guy allegedly beat up a puppy. Then he allegedly kicked a 61-year-old woman down the stairs after apparently threatening to kill her.
When Santa Barbara police arrived at his house in the 800 block of Bath Street, he decided to go for his full 15 minutes of fame. After a nearly nine-hour standoff, he was taken into custody and slapped with a slew of felony charges.
It’s not yet known what set off the 39-year-old lunatic. Maybe he got up on the wrong side of a wet bed again. Perhaps the puppy disrespected him. Or someone might have finished off the last of his Froot Loops.
Whatever it was, the 4-month-old dog was the first victim, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood, a police spokesman. When the 61-year-old woman — a relative of Mello’s, no less — tried to come to the puppy's rescue, the tirade apparently escalated.
“Mollo responded by pointing a handgun at the victim, threatening to kill her, and then kicking her down a flight of concrete stairs,” Harwood said.
The woman suffered multiple injuries, including a broken ankle, and was taken by other relatives to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, which reported the incident to authorities.
Harwood said Mollo has “a history of violence” that includes guns, and he’s reportedly even a member of one of those fearsome “outlaw” motorcycle gangs, no doubt the one with training wheels and colorful propellers on their helmets.
Police arrived on the scene about 6 p.m., carrying with them a felony warrant charging battery, brandishing a firearm and cruelty to animals. Mollo wasn’t impressed.
About 11 p.m., after hours of futile negotiations, officers fired several rounds of tear gas into the house. Still he didn’t budget. An hour later, the SWAT team moved in.
“They made partial entry into the residence, and had a confrontation with the suspect, who was wielding a machete,” Harwood said. “He was shot with a less-lethal shotgun round, and then retreated and barricaded himself in the upper level of the residence.”
Negotiators were able to re-establish contact and Harwood said they finally convinced Mollo to surrender around 2:30 a.m. Grinning maniacally as he was taken into custody, the lifelong loser seemed to be quite proud of the ruckus he caused, which includes dozens of inconvenienced neighbors and likely tens of thousands of dollars in law-enforcement expenses that the rest of us will be paying for.
Mollo was being held without bail at Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, battery resulting in bodily injury, brandishing a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm and terrorist threats, Harwood said. Additional charges may be filed.
Santa Barbara police are investigating an apparent suicide after badly decomposed remains were found hanging from a tree in a ravine near Franceschi Park on the Riviera.
Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, said a gardener working nearby stumbled on the scene in the 1400 block of Mission Ridge Road while investigating a foul odor the afternoon of Jan. 8.
The remains are believed to be that of an adult male. The cause of death and the circumstances are under investigation.
Click here for free suicide prevention resources that are available 24 hours a day.
Sansum Clinic patients with Blue Shield individual health-insurance plans will be able to keep their doctor, just as someone had promised repeatedly. Unfortunately, they’ll be paying much more expensive, out-of-network rates for the privilege. It’s the thought that counts, right?
The nonprofit Sansum is an in-network provider for Anthem Blue Cross individual plans, whether sold through insurance brokers and companies or on the Covered California insurance exchange that's supposed to buck up Obamacare. Sansum officials were unable to reach a similar agreement with Blue Shield, however, although employer-sponsored Blue Shield health plans are not affected — for now.
“It’s very important for patients to know that if they want to come to Sansum Clinic through the (Covered California) exchange, they need an Anthem Blue Cross plan,” marketing director Jill Fonte told our Giana Magnoli.
A Goleta motorcyclist was hospitalized Jan. 5 after he rear-ended a car on Santa Barbara's Westside.
According to police, the 24-year-old man drove his Honda 600 motorcycle into an Infiniti sedan that had stopped on West Mission Street to make a left turn into a driveway.
The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with abrasions and other injuries, then cited for failing to have a proper license and insurance, said Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman.
Harwood said the Infiniti driver complained of pain after the collision, but she was not hospitalized. The incident remains under investigation.
For more than 60 years, Valentino “Tino” Ziliotto owned Santa Barbara’s Italian Grocery. He was a fixture at the store and deli, and was known far and wide for his skills as a sub sandwich maker. He died Jan. 2 at age 86.
Born and raised in the same Voluntario Street house where he died, Ziliotto leaves behind multiple generations of fans he treated more like family than customers.
David Bolton, executive director of the California Missions Foundation, is one of them. He first met Ziliotto in the late 1970s while attending Santa Barbara Junior High School, a few blocks away from the deli at 415 E. De la Guerra St.
“He was such a nice guy in terms of how he treated his customers,” Bolton told our Lara Cooper. “He would be behind the counter making sandwiches, and his wife, Edith, would be working the cash register.”
Ziliotto’s death is not the only era’s end for the family. His niece, Deanna Morinini, told us that they’ve signed a lease on a new location for the store and will soon be moving to 210 W. Carrillo St., the site of a former Carrows restaurant.
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Can you really resist a polar bear cub taking its first, uncertain steps?
(Toronto Zoo video)
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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.