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4 Arrested in Alleged Gang Assault, Police Chase

Assailants pursuing stabbing victim crash car while fleeing officers. Four of the five are captured after a short manhunt.

An alleged gang assault on Santa Barbara’s Westside led to a police chase and the arrest of four men Thursday afternoon.{mosimage}

Taken into custody were Francisco Alcaraz, 20; Enrique Moran, 20; Jason Odale, 21; and a fourth suspect. According to Santa Barbara police, Moran, Alcaraz and Odale took Moran’s girlfriend’s car without her permission and picked up two other acquaintances, a 19-year-old and a 15-year-old, both believed to be gang members.

According to police, the carload of young men stopped at the USA gas station at Carrillo and San Andres streets to exchange their loose change for paper bills in order to buy marijuana. While at the station, Alcaraz, armed with a large butcher knife, saw a man he believed to be a member of a rival gang and confronted him with the knife, police said. {mosimage}

"Witnesses described the victim falling down and Alcaraz standing over him, stabbing downward,” said police Lt. Paul McCaffrey, a department spokesman.

The victim managed to get up and ran north on San Andres Street, with the suspects following him their vehicle. Police officers in the area saw the victim running up the street and were alerted to the situation by witnesses and passers-by. As Officer Cruz tried to intercept the victim, the man’s pursuers drove by. Despite Officer Kushner’s efforts to stop that car, said McCaffrey, the driver simply swerved around him and sped away.{mosimage}

Kushner, in the police car, followed the suspects’ car. Cruz, who was still on foot, flagged down a pickup truck, and with the driver followed Kushner. The driver of the fleeing car lost control and ran off the road at San Pascual and Figueroa streets, and the officers were able to capture two of the suspects and recover the butcher knife.

The other three suspects fled but two were found by police in a large drainpipe beneath Highway 101. The fifth suspect escaped, but was later found in a residence in the 300 block of East Anapamu Street. He was questioned and released.

Police are still looking for the assault victim. Anyone with information should call police Sgt. Bernie Gaona at 805.897.2339. The police would also like to thank the driver of the pickup truck who assisted the officers.

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