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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 1:37 am | Light Rain 59º


Bill Macfadyen: Latest Isla Vista Violence May Be Nothing More Than a Drug Feud

NoozWeek’s Top 5 gets the drop on an elderly alleged killer, checks into short-term vacation rentals, is rained on, and keeps Cody West story going

On the scene in Isla Vista.
On the scene in Isla Vista. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

There were 129,221 people who read Noozhawk this past week. Thanks for not dozing off.

1. Two Arrested, 4 Injured in Drug-Related Shooting Incident in Isla Vista​

Two people were shot and two others were badly beaten at an Isla Vista apartment the evening of May 11, in what authorities are calling a drug deal gone bad.

The interesting takeaway is don’t bring a gun to a skateboard fight, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, the trouble began just after 7 p.m. when Jose Guadalupe Gutierrez, 19, of Goleta, and James Joshua Taylor, 22, of Lompoc, showed up at the apartment in the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road.

Gutierrez apparently was “known” to the two residents, one of whom is a UC Santa Barbara student and the other a recent UCSB graduate.

“While the two subjects were inside the residence, an altercation occurred,” Hoover said. “As a result of the fight, two of the residents sustained ... gunshot wounds.”

One of the homeboys took a bullet to the chest and the other was shot in the abdomen, she said. The gunman, whose identity has not been disclosed, may have managed to shoot himself, as well.

Friends of the residents came to their defense, and they reportedly beat the living daylights out of the assailants. Sources told Noozhawk that skateboards were the weapons of choice.

Sheriff’s deputies and UCSB police quickly responded to the scene, where they arrested Taylor, who was in no condition to try to get away.

Gutierrez did flee, but he only ended up driving himself to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, where Hoover said he tried to convince skeptical emergency-room staff that he had been in a car crash. He was promptly arrested.

Both men were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where they will remain until they recover enough to be transferred to County Jail.

On May 13, the hapless duo was charged with two counts of attempted murder, one count of attempted robbery, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of assault with the personal use of a deadly weapon.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley said special allegations included personal use of a firearm, and that the crimes were committed for the benefit, in association with or at the direction of a criminal street gang.

No arraignment has been scheduled because both suspects are still hospitalized. Gutierrez’s bail was set at $1.6 million, while Taylor, a former Santa Barbara resident, was being held without bail on outstanding warrants for parole violations.

The two guys who were shot are expected to make a full recovery. Their names have not yet been disclosed.

No other charges have been filed, but the case remains under investigation. Undersheriff Barney Melekian had told Noozhawk that the incident was believed to be drug-related. A pistol was recovered at the apartment.

Our Tom Bolton broke the story within minutes of the 9-1-1 call, and we sent out a text alert to our subscribers about a minute later. (Click here to email me your name and cell number if you’d like to receive our NoozAlerts.)

More than 60,000 of you read our story, almost two-thirds of you that night — a deluge that briefly bogged down our servers.

With the one-year anniversary of the Isla Vista massacre less than two weeks away, and the memories of that tragedy lurking just below the surface in the I.V. psyche, it didn’t take much to send the community nearly over the edge.

UCSB students and Isla Vista residents were told to “shelter in place” for almost two hours. Social media — and Fossil Media, which really should have higher standards — erupted with hysterical claims of chaos and carnage.

Fortunately, almost none of it proved to be true, and law enforcement’s overwhelming response had the situation under control in short order.

It would be a shame, meanwhile, if the actions of these four low-life idiots overshadow in any way the heartfelt commemorations planned for next weekend in honor of six real victims of Isla Vista violence.

George Chen, Katie Cooper, Chen Yuan “James” Hong, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, Weihan “David” Wang and Veronika Weiss deserve our community’s full attention.

The late Heidi Good Swiacki with her family, husband Stephen, daughter Ashton and son Christopher. Prosecutors believe she was murdered, but one of the women they suspect is quite a surprise. (HeidiGoodTimes blog photo)
The late Heidi Good Swiacki with her family, husband Stephen, daughter Ashton and son Christopher. Prosecutors believe she was murdered, but one of the women they suspect is quite a surprise. (HeidiGoodTimes blog photo)

2. 2 Women Charged with Killing Solvang ALS Patient

An 89-year-old Solvang woman has been indicted on first-degree murder charges stemming from the 2013 death of her daughter, who suffered from ALS. A second woman is facing the same charges in the case.

89-year-old murder suspect Marjorie Good has been released on her own recognizance. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
89-year-old murder suspect Marjorie Good has been released on her own recognizance. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Prosecutors accuse Marjorie Good and Wanda Nelson of killing Good’s daughter, Heidi Good Swiacki, on March 25, 2013, allegedly by tampering with her ventilator.

Swiacki, 52, also of Solvang, had lived for several years with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

A criminal grand jury indicted the two women May 1, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The grand jury heard from 33 witnesses, including law-enforcement personnel and Swiacki’​s husband, Stephen, and their two children, Ashton and Christopher.

Good had been held at County Jail on $1 million bail, but was released on her own recognizance April 11 after putting in an appearance before Superior Court Judge Gustavo Lavayen.

Nelson was arrested in New York, but was extradited to Santa Barbara County earlier this week.

The arraignment hearing for both women was continued to May 22.

According to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, more than 300 short-term vacation rental units are registered in the city. (Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara illustration)
According to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, more than 300 short-term vacation rental units are registered in the city. (Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara illustration)

3. Short-Term Vacation Rentals Exacerbate Santa Barbara’s Tight Local Housing Market

It will come as a surprise to ... no one, but Santa Barbara has a tight housing market.

Making matters worse — according to the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara — is the market for short-term vacation rental units.

If I’m following the reasoning, the pursuit of profit is tempting landlords at even lower levels to choose to rent to these more well-to-do transient tenants. Left out of this picture are long-term, low-income residents, including those who qualify for Section 8 vouchers.

As our Gina Potthoff reported May 10, city records show that at least 330 short-term rentals are registered with services like Airbnb. Some estimates place the figure at more than 1,000.

The Housing Authority says the city’s rental-occupancy rate has been north of 99 percent for almost two years, which has prevented nearly 100 of its clients from being able to find affordable housing.

Short-term rental owners can’t operate in a residential zone, since it’s considered a business. But many do, obviously, so officials force them to pay for an annual business license and fork over transient-occupancy taxes.

The City Council is expected to consider amending the city’s short-term rental policy in June, and the housing commission will be forwarding a recommendation of its own. Among those under discussion are limits on or even the elimination of short-term rentals.

I don’t know that I care one way or another, or even need to, but our readers sure do. Your comments have been among the best we’ve had. If you haven’t added your voice to the conversation, click here to get in on it.

4. Steady Rain On the Way for Santa Barbara County

Whoa. The forecast called for rain, and rain is what we got. How often does that happen?

It wasn’t much — less than a half-inch May 14 — but it was at least legit, which is unlike recent downpours that have been forecast.

And more may be on the way, with the National Weather Service predicting sporadic showers when a second cold front rolls into the county May 15.

As California’s devastating drought has dragged on, it’s been interesting to see our standards for what constitutes “rain” wither along with our landscaping.

Today, drizzle is the same as steady rain, while turning on your windshield wipers for a couple of swipes is the equivalent of a deluge.

We’ll take what we can get!

5. Bill Macfadyen: Noozhawk Readers Won’t Let Go of Cody West Story

Cody West is still hanging tough.

In the four or five years I’ve been writing this weekly column, I think he’s only the second three-peat, joining last year’s Isla Vista massacre.


                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week, from my peripatetic tour of the World Wide Web ... and beyond: iPhone Quacks the Case of the Missing Ducklings.

                                                                 •        •        •


(True10 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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