Santa Barbara police confirmed Monday that the 37-year-old man believed to have been assaulted last week by known gang members died Saturday while in intensive care.
Police say that George Ied, a native of Syria, left his workplace at the Mi Fiesta Liquor store on Milpas Street early Tuesday to head to his home on Punta Gorda Street when he was intercepted, savagely beaten and left on the sidewalk to die. What prompted the attack remains under investigation, but Santa Barbara police believe that four men — all with known gang affiliations — are responsible.
Ied was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. A legal cause of death has not been determined.
Police say Ied had no criminal history and was not affiliated with a gang. He had been on life support at Cottage Hospital since the attack early Tuesday.
Officers responded to 1300 Punta Gorda St. on a fight call last Tuesday and found Ied unconscious on the sidewalk. While searching for witnesses and evidence, they noticed a fire burning in the backyard of a home several hundred feet from where Ied was found. Officers contacted the brothers who live there, 25-year-old Ismael Parra and 22-year-old Miguel Parra. The men appeared to have just been in a fight, according to a police statement, and officers discovered charred clothing in the fire, which they say could have been an attempt to destroy evidence.
Police say the Parra brothers are known gang members and were recently released from prison for crimes that were uncovered during Operation Gator Roll, which occurred in 2007, and have returned to the community.
Ismael Parra is facing charges of murder with gang enhancement, committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang, assault on a police officer and battery. Miguel Parra is facing charges of murder with gang enhancement, committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang, violation of probation and resisting arrest.
A third suspect, 23-year-old Steven Santana, who is also a gang member, remains under investigation. Santana faces charges of murder with gang enhancement, committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang, violation of probation and battery.
All three suspects had been drinking, and detectives believe that the trio were in front of the Parra brothers’ home when the victim walked by. Police found blood on one of the men, and another had a weapon, though what type is unknown.
On Monday, police confirmed that a fourth suspect had been arrested in the case. Michael Cardenas, 24, was arrested Saturday after police received a tip that he was hiding in a residence on the 1400 block of Lou Dillon Road.
When officers responded to the area, Cardenas fled into the hilly area at the end of Lou Dillon Road. Santa Barbara SWAT officers were called out because officers believed the man was armed and dangerous, and two canine teams also responded to the scene.
An hour into the search, Cardenas surrendered without incident. He faces charges of murder with gang enhancement and committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Hans Almgren, who will be prosecuting the case, was on his way to the courthouse for Cardena’s arraignment Monday. He told Noozhawk that the other three suspects will be in court Tuesday morning for continued arraignment, and he confirmed the charges facing all four men.
Court files were unavailable for viewing Monday, but each defendant’s name comes up with multiple misdemeanors in the past decade. Ismael Parra has five cases going back to 2003, and his brother Miguel’s four files date back to 2006, including a 2007 felony. Santana has four misdemeanors going back to 2006 and the recently-arrested Cardenas has 13 misdemeanors come up in his name since 2005. Noozhawk will report further on these past cases as information becomes available.
Police Chief Cam Sanchez said Thursday there was no apparent reason Ied should have been attacked, and that Ied had been described as a family man, hardworking and “just making a living.” Sanchez didn’t specify which gang the suspects were involved in, adding that Tuesday’s beating wasn’t the only case the department is looking at in which innocent people have been victimized by gangs and implied that other incidents in the past few weeks had occurred.
“They’re stepping outside their own box to attack innocent people, and we are not going to put up with that,” Sanchez said.
He said the Police Department is set to begin its own increase in operations to deal with the violence, and it will be working to address the fears of those living in that area of town.
“If you were to go right now to that community, they’re in fear,” Sanchez said. “This is not going to be tolerated.”
When asked about a gang injunction last Thursday, Sanchez said the city was not considering that yet. Police are continuing to look for witnesses of Tuesday’s attack, and it’s an open case with many resources attached, according to Sanchez. Until then, officers are pursuing a motive. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was asked about a gang injunction Monday, and said that while the DA’s office is working closely with several governmental and community organizations to create a safer Santa Barbara County, “I am in support of a carefully written and meticulously executed injunction.”