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Bill Macfadyen: Somber Salutes Honor Sean Misner All the Way Home from Arizona

NoozWeek's Top 5 includes multiple stabbings, multiple wrecks, a ruthless gang culture, and the Best of Bill

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Firefighter Sean Misner Returns to Santa Ynez, Accompanied by ‘Brothers in Arms’ and Silent Tributes

Sean Misner’s family brought his remains home to Santa Ynez on July 13. Throughout the 500-mile journey from Prescott, Ariz., they were greeted by firefighters and first-responders, passers-by and the curious — all stopping to salute the motorcade as it sped past.

Misner, 26, was a member of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots in Prescott. On June 30, he and 18 crewmates were fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in the mountains about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix when the flames suddenly turned back on them. All perished in the deadliest day for firefighters since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

Sean Misner Memorial Service
Family, friends and firefighters from around the country lined up to carry the ashes and spirit of firefighter Sean Misner into Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s football stadium for a July 15 memorial service. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper and our friend, Dr. Peter Hartmann of Urban Hikers, were positioned along Highway 101 as the procession drove up the coast in a caravan of fire trucks and vehicles, accompanied by California Highway Patrol motorcycle units. It was an extraordinary sight and, of course, it’s one we hope we’ll never see again. Click here for a photo gallery.

Two evenings later, hundreds of well-wishers and firefighters from around the country filled Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s football stadium for a memorial service. Click here for a photo gallery.

Misner was a popular son of the Santa Ynez Valley, and his vast fan club turned out in droves to celebrate his life. As our Gina Potthoff reported, he was called a hero, a gentleman, a sportsman, a devout Christian and a gushing father-to-be.

His heartbroken mother, Tammy, may have been speaking just for herself but her sentiments seemed to be shared universally.

“I love you, and miss you more than words can express,” she said. “I have always been so proud of you and all your accomplishments.”

Misner is survived by his wife, Amanda, and their unborn child, as well as his parents, Tammy and Ron Misner of Santa Ynez.

2. Stabbings Send 4 to Hospital in Santa Barbara; 5 Arrested

A pair of Santa Barbara stabbing incidents sent four people to the hospital in the early morning hours on July 13. Five people were arrested in connection with the second incident, which police say was gang-related.

Sgt. Dan McGrew said the first stabbing occurred just before 1 a.m. in the 400 block of North Milpas Street. The victim was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment.

Around 3 a.m., police responded to a report of a fight in the 200 block of Cottage Grove Avenue, a one-block street between Bath and De la Vina streets hard by Highway 101 west of downtown. Officers arrived to find three stabbing victims, two males and a female. All were carted off to Cottage Hospital.

Lt. Paul McCaffrey told Noozhawk’s Tom Bolton that five people later were arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide, along with gang enhancements. They were booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail.

The footnote to this story is that Tom wrote it while driving back from Palm Desert. He got a phone call with more information, pulled over, set up his iPhone as a hotspot and filed the update. Show me another local news outfit with that kind of dedication.

3. Bill Macfadyen: Josh Canning’s Last Ride a Fateful Decision, Left Friends Stunned

The lead item in my previous column was about the lead story of the last NoozWeek: the July 9 death of Josh Canning. I have to believe it was the reason the column made the Top 5. Either that or it was the Sharknado video I included.

Family and friends of Canning, 44, held a paddle-out in his honor July 16 off of Arroyo Burro Beach.

A motorist suspected of driving under the influence triggered a five-car collision that sent four people to the hospital, one with serious injuries. The wreck on Highway 101 near El Sueno Road shut down the freeway — twice. (Urban Hikers photo)

4. Four Injured in Multivehicle Wreck on Highway 101 Near El Sueno Road

An unlicensed driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI after he wrecked his car on Highway 101 near El Sueno Road in the predawn hours of July 17. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.

Alejandro Morales-Moscaira

According to CHP Officer James Richards, a car driven by Alejandro Morales-Moscaira of Isla Vista hit the right guard rail about 4:30 a.m. and stopped in the middle of the freeway, blocking the northbound lanes. Morales-Moscaira and a passenger, Edward Moscaira-Hernandez, the registered owner, got out of the vehicle before a car driven by Eileen Huddleston, 54, of Moreno Valley, slammed into the darkened wreckage. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.

Richards said a third vehicle, driven by Chandler Guilbeault, 37, of Goleta, came upon the scene and veered to the left to avoid a collision, but he was rear-ended by a fourth vehicle, driven by Kyle Ong, 28, of Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.

Moments later, a fifth car, driven by Margarita Ramirez, 39, of Santa Barbara, crashed into the wreckage of the first two vehicles, Richards said.

Ong was trapped in the wreckage of his vehicle, and had to be extricated by firefighters. County fire Capt. David Sadecki said he was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with serious injuries.

Huddleston, Morales-Moscaira and Ramirez suffered minor to moderate injuries, and also were hospitalized, Sadecki said.

Richards said the unlicensed Morales-Moscaira was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The freeway was closed until about 7 a.m. and then was shut down for several hours late that night so the CHP could complete its investigation.

5. Anatomy of a Homicide: Execution a Part of Gang ‘Justice’ and Enforcement

For the last week, Noozhawk and our partner, KEYT News, have been jointly reporting a series of exclusive stories on the criminal grand jury indictments of 11 defendants in the March torture-murder of Anthony Ibarra. According to the indictment’s transcript, the low-level drug dealer was killed by his fellow gang members for failure to pay “drug taxes” he owed.

Ramon
Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado is the alleged ring leader in a Santa Maria gang’s torture-murder of rogue gang member Anthony Ibarra. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Our Gina Potthoff and Tom Bolton, along with KEYT’s Beth Farnsworth, have done a tremendous job with a very difficult subject. I don’t know which is the more shocking element: the gruesome circumstances of Ibarra’s death or the chilling depravity exhibited by nearly a dozen people.

Gina’s third installment of the series took a look at the latter, a gang culture that views the execution of wayward members as a necessary part of the gang’s “justice” and enforcement procedures. Based on testimony in the grand jury transcript, Ramon “Crazy Ray” Maldonado was just going “by the book” when he organized and led the beat-down that killed Ibarra. By the twisted logic of Santa Maria’s North West gang-bangers, Maldonado was a model — albeit ruthless — employee.

Rather than a raise, Maldonado will get a bonus if convicted: Prosecutors have said they won’t seek the death penalty.

» Anatomy of a Homicide: Killing of Anthony Ibarra a Calculated Attack

» Anatomy of a Homicide: Victim’s Body Reveals Extent of Vicious Torture

» Anatomy of a Homicide: Execution a Part of Gang ‘Justice’ and Enforcement

» Anatomy of a Homicide: Cast of Characters

» Click here for a related commentary.

» Click here for KEYT News’ report on the investigation.

» Click here for KEYT’s second report.

                                                                  •        •        •

My next Twitter Chat is schedule for 4 to 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 24.

Twitter users can use the hashtag #nooztalk to participate, and readers can click here to join the conversation on the Twubs Twitter Chat platform.

                                                                  •        •        •

Queen Elizabeth, a hula dancer and a top-heavy macaw walk into an Instagram video ... and my friend, Patricia Marroquin, was there to capture it on her phone.

(patriciapix video via Instagram)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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