Monday, September 25 , 2017, 10:33 am | Fair 74º


Local News

Suspect Fatally Shot by Deputy on Highway 101 Had Criminal History

Santa Maria man's offenses dating back to 1998 were for nonviolent crimes and drug cases, according to court records

A burglary suspect who was shot to death by a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputy this week had a lengthy criminal history, according to local court records, but nothing that would foreshadow such a violent end to his life.

Matthew Lyell Berg, 47, of Santa Maria had a string of criminal cases locally dating back to 1998, but all were nonviolent, and most were for misdemeanor drug crimes, according to records in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Berg was fatally shot by a deputy Monday afternoon after he attempted to ram a patrol car, according to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars. He was declared dead at the scene on the southbound Highway 101 bridge over the Santa Ynez River near Buellton.

The incident began about 12:45 p.m. Monday in the 2900 block of West Highway 154 in the Santa Ynez Valley, where a burglary was reported and a car driven by Berg was seen leaving the residence.

Deputies quickly located the suspect vehicle, and after a high-speed pursuit that included Berg driving the wrong way on Highway 101, the incident culminated with the suspect being shot.

Court records show that Berg was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance in 2012 and 2010, and for trespassing in 2011. All were misdemeanor cases.

Earlier cases dating back to 1998 involved burglary, and possession or being under the influence of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors, records show.

The most serious case involved a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamine — in 2000.

Details about the outcomes of those cases were not immediately available.

The officer-involved shooting remains under investigation, with the results expected to be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office once completed, probably in several weeks.

The deputy involved has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >