A former Montecito resident is facing attempted-murder charges after he allegedly deliberately struck a 27-year-old man with his vehicle outside a Westside party in September, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Avery Anthony Morris Jr., 29, was arrested earlier this month in connection with an incident in which he allegedly ran down the Santa Barbara man with a car following an argument at a party, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.
At about 10:40 p.m. on Sept. 13, emergency personnel were dispatched to a report of a hit-and-run traffic collision involving a pedestrian on the 500 block of West Gutierrez Street, where they found a man lying in the street suffering from multiple serious injuries, including a head wound, Harwood said.
The victim, whose name was not released, was treated at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and numerous witnesses reported that Morris intentionally struck the victim with a car and then fled the scene.
Morris and the victim are acquaintances, Harwood said, and prior to the incident had been attending a party together.
Morris was asked to leave the party after offending the host, and Morris allegedly became angry at being told to leave and started arguing with the host.
The argument escalated to Morris threatening that he had a gun and punching another partygoer as he walked by, Harwood said.
Morris was escorted outside by the victim, but other partygoers, angry at his behavior, began kicking Morris’ vehicle, a black Audi S6 registered to his girlfriend, which was parked on the street.
Morris went to his car and left the scene, repeatedly threatening that he had a gun and was going to kill people at the party, and also repeatedly stated that he was a member of the Los Angeles-area Bloods street gang, Harwood said.
Morris returned a few minutes later, exiting his vehicle and stating that he had a gun and held his hand to his waistband, which prompted several party-goers to run for cover, Harwood said.
He returned to his vehicle and drove away, but returned a second time, speeding down the street and striking the victim standing on the roadway, Harwood said.
Witnesses stated that Morris tracked the victim with his car and hit him as he attempted to dodge the collision.
Witnesses told police that the suspect’s name was “Avery,” and that he’d been driving a black Audi.
A police records check indicated that someone named Avery had been cited for being an unlicensed driver while driving a black Audi S6 in February 2012.
Morris was then identified as the suspect in the September case, and was found to be on felony probation for resisting an officer by threat or violence, with his address of record being on the 1400 block of Schoolhouse Road in Montecito.
However, officers discovered Morris had moved without notifying the Santa Barbara County Probation Department of his whereabouts, Harwood said.
Detectives obtained an arrest warrant on Nov. 6 for Morris for attempted murder — with a bail amount of $1 million — and learned that he was in Pasadena.
On Nov. 19, he was transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, and booked on suspicion of attempted murder.
Detectives also learned over the course of the investigation that Morris has claimed membership in the Bloods gang in other incidents.
As a result, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has been asked to consider filing an additional felony charge against Morris for active participation in a criminal street gang.