Pixel Tracker

Friday, January 18 , 2019, 8:15 am | Fair 54º


Wanted Man Arrested After Extensive Search on Gaviota Coast

Fitim Burgazi Click to view larger
Fitim Burgazi

Law enforcement agencies mounted a full search for a wanted person in the Arroyo Quemada area on Tuesday, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department revealed Wednesday that the man had escaped from Ventura County’s electronic-monitoring program.  

At least eight sheriff’s units, K-9 units and a county Air Support helicopter were dispatched to the area Tuesday morning, according to Lt. Rob Plastino, and an emergency notification through the 9-1-1 system went out to residents on Arroyo Quemada Lane.

The circumstances of the search and why the extensive search was instigated weren’t clear Tuesday, when Plastino said State Parks personnel encountered a man who said he needed to be left alone and would harm himself. The man then ran off down the railroad tracks, Plastino said.

“Our concern was that he may have something to hurt himself or hurt himself by being on the tracks,” he told Noozhawk at the time.

People living in the area were told to shelter in place while law enforcement teams searched the area around 10 a.m., and K-9 units were searching for the man using clothing that belonged to him, Plastino said.

Information released by the department on Wednesday indicates the man, 38-year-old Fitim Burgazi, was first located at the Arroyo Hondo Vista Point, and told a State Parks lifeguard that he had a weapon and intended to hurt himself.

Responding deputies identified Burgazi, who had a felony warrant out for his arrest after escaping a custody facility, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He also allegedly violated terms of his felony probation.

“We didn’t know he was an escapee until later when, during our search for him, his vehicle plate was run and his name came up,” Plastino said Wednesday.

A perimeter was established and a search started in the Arroyo Quemada area with probation, State Parks, California Highway Patrol and deputies, authorities said.

Burgazi was identified just before he was found hiding in bushes by a sheriff’s K-9 unit, Plastino said.

“When Burgazi was found, he was in possession of a knife and stated he intended to kill himself,” Plastino said in a statement.

He said there was a two-hour negotiation with Burgazi at the scene, before he was taken into custody around 1 p.m.

“Information was obtained by probation personnel that Burgazi’s spouse believed he intended to force law enforcement to shoot him,” he said.

“Burgazi was observed placing the knife to his throat and began a cutting motion, which deputies believed would cause great body harm or death. A pyrotechnic distraction device was deployed in conjunction with less lethal ‘bean bag’ projectiles.”

Burgazi surrendered a few minutes later, without harming himself, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment before being booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail, according to the Sheriff's Department. 

Noozhawk managing editor 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.