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Bill Macfadyen: Bar Fight Over a Woman Spills into Street, Ends with Injuries and 4 Arrests

NoozWeek’s Top 5 switches gears for a suspicious parking lot death, finds fault in a fatal trolley collision, resurrects the norovirus, and bides the tide

Fight night on Santa Barbara’s State Street.
Fight night on Santa Barbara’s State Street. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

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May the Force be with you, and with the 103,359​ people who read Noozhawk this past week. Here’s my take on your top stories:

1. Santa Barbara Police Arrest 4 Bakersfield Men in Lower State Street Melee

An early morning bar brawl in downtown Santa Barbara spilled out into the 500 and 600 blocks of State Street before police could break up the party.

Several people suffered significant injuries in the Dec. 12 incident. Four men were arrested.

Sgt. Riley Harwood told our Tom Bolton that the fight — mainly involving four guys from Bakersfield and another from Oxnard — began shortly before 1 a.m., apparently over a woman.

One man was slashed with a knife above an eye, a few people were knocked unconscious and several were taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with various injuries.

Harwood said Ricardo Gomez, 23, Christopher Gomez, 20, and Isac Vera, 24, all of the Bakersfield area, were arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

Ricardo Gomez allegedly wielded the knife in the slashing, he added, while Christopher Gomez and Vera allegedly pummeled their opponents and kicked a few in the head.

Daylen Shannon, 24, of Bakersfield, was arrested on suspicion of battery.

Harwood said the street fight remains under investigation, and it’s possible that others will be charged.​

Parking lot mystery in downtown Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)
Parking lot mystery in downtown Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers / Noozhawk photo)

2. Santa Barbara Police Investigating ‘Unusual’ Death in City Parking Lot

A Santa Barbara man was found dead in a downtown parking lot early on Dec. 15, and police say he apparently had been struck by a vehicle under “unusual circumstances.”

The body, lying in front of a pickup truck, was discovered about 12:20 a.m. by a street sweeper cleaning up city Lot 11 in the 500 block of Anacapa Street.

“We are still investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision,” Sgt. Riley Harwood said. “We have not determined if it was an accident or an intentional act ...

“There appear to be some unusual circumstances.”

The name of the 27-year-old victim has not been released, but he reportedly was a bartender at a nearby brewhouse.​

Police are seeking witnesses and video to assist in the investigation.

Signing off at the intersection of Anacapa and Sola streets in Santa Barbara. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
Signing off at the intersection of Anacapa and Sola streets in Santa Barbara. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

3. Pedestrian Found at Fault in Fatal Trolley Collision in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara police have concluded that a pedestrian who was struck by a downtown electric trolley was at fault in the fatal collision.

Officer Jaycee Hunter, the lead investigator in the case, said Ratan ​Bahadur Lamichhane inexplicably stepped in front of the Metropolitan Transit District trolley as it traveled down the 1300 block of Anacapa Street the night of Nov. 23.

Authorities say the 66-year-old Michigan man was walking with his wife and sister-in-law when he crossed Anacapa just south of Sola Street and was hit. He was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, but later died of his injuries.

“The pedestrian unfortunately left the curb about two to three seconds before the bus arrived, and when you calculate out the numbers, it doesn’t give enough time for a bus driver to stop,” Hunter told our Giana Magnoli.

He said the investigation determined that, at 20 mph, the trolley takes about 33 feet to stop, not counting additional distance during the driver’s reaction time.

“Nothing indicates that the MTD driver did anything that contributed to the collision,” said Hunter, who identified the driver as Eric Maas.

According to police, Lamichhane’s family has hired an attorney, and investigators placed signs at the intersection of Anacapa and Sola streets asking witnesses to come forward.

Police say two independent witnesses corroborated what the trolley driver said, which is that the pedestrian ran into the street outside the crosswalk and was struck.

4. Norovirus Outbreak Sickens Hundreds in Santa Barbara County

The outbreak of readers turning to Noozhawk for news about the norovirus outbreak showed no sign of abating for a second week.

Fortunately, the highly contagious infection seems to have run its course, with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department providing no new updates since our Lara Cooper first reported the story Dec. 10.

The norovirus, which causes the sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea, struck several hundred people throughout the county, including more than 100 residents and staff at Samarkand Retirement Community in Santa Barbara.

High surf brings a different wavelength to Santa Barbara’s East Beach. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)
High surf brings a different wavelength to Santa Barbara’s East Beach. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

5. Santa Barbara County Hit By Big Waves During High-Surf Advisory

High surf pounded Santa Barbara County on Dec. 11, with big waves and high tides rolling right up to parking lots along Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Boulevard and submerging the East Beach volleyball courts.

Things could have been worse. In Ventura, violent breakers washed over the Ventura Pier, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the popular coastal attraction.

Ventura officials said the waves took out 15 of the pier’s pylons holding up the outer portion of the 1,600-foot-long structure.

The Ventura County Star reported damage estimates between $400,000 and $700,000.

The pier will remain closed indefinitely.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our top story this time last year? Gusty Winds, Torrential Rains Slam Santa Barbara County.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I always suspected he was a warlock: Photographic Proof That Vladimir Putin Is Immortal.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Judging by the ears, I’m pretty sure this is a Siberian husky and not an Alaskan malamute, but it’s a cleverly original idea so I’m rolling with it. Besides, the dog is a terrific filmmaker. HT to my friend, George Foulsham.

(Marshall Burnette video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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