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Local News

Santa Barbara County Fugitive Arrested in Ventura

Juan Miguel Bejar

Ventura police have arrested an Oxnard man wanted in Santa Barbara County who is accused of driving the wrong way on Highway 101 with a stolen vehicle and leading authorities on a high-speed chase.

Juan Miguel Bejar, 30, was arrested Saturday night after a standoff with Ventura’s SWAT team, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Mark Williams said.

Ventura police officers tried to contact Bejar at a residence on the 100 block of West Simpson Block in Ventura.

People inside the residence were uncooperative with police, and officers heard a possible gunshot inside, according to the Ventura Police Department.

Negotiations with the occupants failed so SWAT came in to assist. Bejar came out with other occupants after about two hours and was arrested, police said. No gun was found inside the residence and no one was injured during the standoff.

Bejar was arrested and booked into the Ventura County Jail on warrants from Santa Barbara County and a parole hold, Williams said. The arrest warrants included 11 penal code and vehicle code violations, including robbery, burglary, possession of stolen property, conspiracy and vehicle theft. 

He will be transported to Santa Barbara County Jail later and will be held without bail.

The Sheriff’s Department asked for the public’s help finding Bejar after a Dec. 14 incident when he allegedly stole several vehicles and drove the wrong way on Highway 101 to avoid being arrested.

Deputies responded to the 4100 block of Via Real in Carpinteria around 3:25 a.m. that day when a couple reported its car being stolen from the front of their home. The suspect allegedly threatened to use a firearm, but a weapon was never seen, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

He then allegedly crashed at the scene and got into a stolen green van with his brother and wife inside. A high-speed chase started, but was called off when Bejar allegedly drove onto Highway 101 going the wrong direction at Santa Monica Road.

When deputies caught up to him and cut him off, he fled on foot and eluded deputies, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

His wife, 24-year-old Sandra Lopez, and brother, 28-year-old Jose Bejar, were both arrested and charged with attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department heard that Ventura County had a similar incident Dec. 5, where a suspect and vehicle matching the same description drove the wrong way on the freeway several times while being chased by authorities.

Bejar has an extensive criminal history and was considered armed and dangerous by authorities, Williams said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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