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Bill Macfadyen: An Alleged Burglary Escalates to Police Chase and Death, But Why?

Best of Noozhawk 07.06.12 follows a dangerous fall, a tragic swim, fireworks galore and a growing feud on Lower Milpas Street

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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Suspect Shot Dead on Highway 101 Was Santa Maria Man

Property crimes are spiking throughout Santa Barbara County but a July 2 break-in at a Santa Ynez Valley home escalated into a truly dangerous situation that left the alleged suspect dead and thousands of motorists stuck in snarled traffic.

A West Highway 154 resident returned home at midday Monday to find a burglar inside her house. She called the Sheriff’s Department, the suspect fled, a deputy responding to the scene spotted him racing toward Highway 101 through Los Olivos, and the chase was on.

Rather than pull over, Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton reported, the suspect drove south on Highway 101 to Buellton, exited at Avenue of the Flags and continued on to Santa Rosa Road. Once there, he re-entered the freeway, driving north against traffic in the southbound lanes. Sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol units shadowed him on the northbound side until the suspect stopped his car on the Santa Ynez River bridge.

According to authorities, a deputy drove toward the vehicle from the north and, as he approached, the suspect rammed the sheriff’s patrol car. At that point, officials said, the deputy drew his weapon and fired several shots, killing the man.

The suspect was later identified as Matthew Lyell Berg, 47, of Santa Maria, who, court records show, had a long history of nonviolent crimes and drug offenses — but apparently nothing that would indicate why he would take the actions he did. The investigation is continuing but the layers of questions surrounding the incident are likely to remain unanswered.

Southbound traffic was rerouted on to Highway 154 for more than four hours until the freeway was reopened around 5 p.m.

2. Pair Remain in ICU After Fall From Cliff

A couple was critically injujred when they apparently fell off a 30-foot cliff at Santa Barbara’s Shoreline Park in the early morning hours of July 1.

Sgt. Riley Harwood, an SBPD spokesman, said Adam Kirkes, 23, of Santa Barbara, and his companion, Emily Peterson, also 23, of San Clemente, were found on the beach below the cliff by a passer-by early Sunday. After an emergency response that included the Harbor Patrol, city firefighters and other rescue personnel, the two were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Police say foul play is not suspected in the incident, but alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

3. 8-Year-Old Boy Drowns in Santa Ynez River Pool

An Oxnard boy on a Fourth of July family outing to the Santa Ynez River drowned in a popular river pool near the Live Oak day-use area off Paradise Road, authorities said.

Edwin Jijada, 8, was found about 45 minutes after he disappeared in the pool, which is 15 to 20 feet deep with very poor water visibility. Paramedics were unable to revive him and a county Fire Department official said he was pronounced dead at the scene.

4. Patriotic Pride Bursts Fourth at South Coast Independence Day Festivities

The red, white and blue of Independence Day took on an unwelcome shade of gray as a heavy marine layer blanketed Santa Barbara County’s South Coast. But the gloom couldn’t dampen the Fourth of July enthusiasm or muffle the booms of fireworks shows that lit up the skies over Goleta and Santa Barbara.

Noozhawks Tom Bolton, Alex Kacik, Patrick Kulp and Giana Magnoli were out and about, covering everything from the Montecito Fire Protection District’s annual pancake breakfast and the 17th Annual Montecito Fourth of July Parade to the Spirit of ‘76 Foundation’s 50th Annual Fourth of July Parade in Santa Barbara, to the Goleta Valley Historical Society’s 38th Annual Fourth of July celebration at Goleta’s Rancho La Patera & Stow House, to the Goleta Rotary Clubs’ Goleta Fireworks Festival and the Santa Barbara SPARKLE fireworks show at West Beach.

For the second year in a row, we supplemented our Independence Day coverage with a Storify report following your tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube uploads. Click here to check it out and see if you were mentioned.

» Click here for Noozhawk’s Storify coverage of the fireworks, parades and Fourth of July celebrations.

» Click here for Noozhawk’s slide show of Independence Day photos.

» Click here for a slide show from Noozhawk reader Fritz Olenberger.

5. Milpas Community Association Lodges Complaint Against Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter

In the culmination of a simmering dispute with the Casa Esperanza homeless shelter on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside, the Milpas Community Association has alleged that the facility is not complying with the city conditions required for its operating permit. MCA officials want the Planning Commission to re-evaluate that permit by the end of August.

According to the association’s complaint, filed July 2 with Community Development director Paul Casey, Casa Esperanza staff have not been patrolling the neighborhood around the shelter at 816 Cacique Street and the facility hasn’t reached out to the community as required.

Casey told Noozhawk that the Planning Commission doesn’t have the authority to revoke the conditional-use permit for Casa Esperanza, which faces a biannual status update in September.

Casa Esperanza executive director Mike Foley says he had not received a copy of the Milpas Community Association’s complaint, but added that his staff will be responding to the allegations.

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Noozhawk is excited to be a sponsor of this year’s 70th Annual Man & Woman of the Year awards, which will be revealed at a dinner celebration Oct. 11 at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

It’s a privilege for us to be asked by the Santa Barbara Foundation to join KEYT and KDB 93.7 Classic Radio in promoting the prestigious awards, which highlight the community’s spirit of volunteerism. You’ll be seeing more about the program on Noozhawk in the next two months.

In the meantime, the Santa Barbara Foundation is now accepting nominations for Man and Woman of the year. Click here for more information or to make a nomination.

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Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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