A wanted felon who has eluded law enforcement for weeks was arrested Friday after allegedly leading officers on a bizarre chase, driving his vehicle the wrong way on Highway 217, and eventually fleeing on foot to swim into the middle of the Goleta Slough Lagoon.
Binisio Nicolas Pereda, 26, of Lompoc, was arrested on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon, felony evading and felony resisting, and for multiple outstanding felony warrants, according to Lt. Butch Arnoldi of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Arnoldi reported that Pereda has been borrowing vehicles from friends in various cities throughout the county and fleeing when stopped by law enforcement.
“Last week, the Santa Barbara Police Department attempted to conduct a traffic stop, and Pereda backed up and almost struck a police officer,” Arnoldi said, adding that the incident was one of several over the past few weeks.
Friday’s incident that led to Pereda’s arrest began around 12:30 p.m., when he fled in his vehicle after sheriff’s deputies tried to conduct a traffic stop on South Fairview Avenue, near the Santa Barbara Airport, Arnoldi said.
Pereda allegedly failed to yield and led officers on a vehicle chase, exiting onto Highway 217, driving the wrong way up the exit/off-ramp toward Highway 101.
Officers from other agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, the UCSB Police Department, the county Probation Department, the Santa Barbara Police Department and the county’s Air Support Unit and Canine Team, responded to the area Pereda had last been at Ward Drive and Hollister Avenue.
Several witnesses reported they had seen Pereda’s vehicle and directed deputies to a mobile home park on Ward Drive. Staff there told deputies that they had seen the suspect abandon his vehicle and flee on foot near the freshwater lake in the area.
A law enforcement dog tracked the suspect to the lagoon, where air support spotted him swimming. Several officers responded to the area and were able to talk the suspect into swimming to shore and surrendering.
Pereda was taken into custody without further incident and handcuffed on the shoreline. He was then transported by ambulance to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for medical evaluation and clearance.