Santa Barbara police arrested a man on the city's lower Westside on Sunday morning after they say he stabbed the boyfriend of his estranged wife. Officers also found an explosive device in the suspect's vehicle, which the bomb squad was called out to investigate.
Jose Juan Bernal, 36, of Isla Vista was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a destructive device, a fire bomb, and possession of a destructive device near a public place or private home following the fight, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood.
Harwood said the victim, a 35-year old man from Santa Barbara, suffered a puncture wound to the chest, was treated by paramedics and declined further medical attention.
Police first responded to the scene at 7:49 a.m. Sunday, after a call was made reporting an assault with a deadly weapon in the 700 block of West Cota Street.
Harwood said the victim was on his way to work when the incident occurred and had just arrived at a residence in the 600 block of San Pascual Street to pick up a co-worker.
Bernal followed the victim to that location and confronted him there, according to police, where a fight ensued during which Bernal allegedly stabbed the victim once in the chest with a piece of bamboo that had a 3-inch piece of metal affixed to the end.
The victim struck Bernal with his belt and belt buckle to ward off the attack, and Bernal reportedly left in his car and drove to the 700 block of West Cota Street, where he contacted his estranged wife at her residence.
Harwood said Bernal briefly exchanged words with his wife, who refused to open the door, and left to find that his car had been blocked in its parking space by the victim's vehicle.
The victim informed Bernal that he was calling the police and that Bernal needed to stay to speak to the responding officers.
Bernal left on foot and was stopped by officers at the intersection of Ortega Street and Wentworth Avenue as he was walking toward the Ortega Street Footbridge, where he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
His vehicle was searched, and officers found that it contained an illegal destructive device, an improvised fire bomb made with batteries, wiring, a roll of toilet paper and a butane lighter, Harwood said.
"This type of device is designed to create a burst of flame that can be used to set other objects on fire," he said.
Representatives from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad responded, examined the device and then dismantled it.
Harwood said Bernal did not admit that the device was explosive, but instead told officers it was a "homemade heating pad."
Bernal was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail. Bail was set at $50,000.