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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 2:49 pm | Fair 69º


Police Finally Subdue Man Barricaded in Santa Barbara Home

Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr., 39, is shot with a 'less-lethal' shotgun round before being arrested

An hours-long standoff ended early Thursday after Santa Barbara Police Department SWAT team members entered a downtown home where a wanted man had barricaded himself.

Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr.
Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr.

The suspect, Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr., was finally taken into custody at about 2:30 a.m., Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

Mollo, 39, who was wanted on a felony warrant, had remained holed up in the house on the 800 block of Bath Street since about 6 p.m.

Police fired several tear-gas rounds into the home at about 11 p.m., but Mollo refused to surrender.

About an hour later, they ventilated the structure, and the decision was made for the SWAT team to move in.

"They made partial entry into the residence, and had a confrontation with the suspect, who was wielding a machete," Harwood said. "He was shot with a less-lethal shotgun round, and then retreated and barricaded himself in the upper level of the residence."

Negotiators were able to re-establish contact with Mollo using a "throw phone," Harwood said, and eventually convinced him to surrender.

Throughout the evening, SWAT team members and police crisis negotiators had been talking with Mollo, trying to convince him to come out of the home, Harwood said.

"If he continues to talk and show a willingness to negotiate, time is on our side," Harwood said shortly before 9 p.m., "and we'll do this as long as we need to.

"If the tone of negotiations turns to the negative, we'll certainly exercise other options. I can assure you he's not going to get away."

Mollo was wanted on a felony warrant charging battery, brandishing a fire arm and cruelty to animals, Harwood said.

Mollo had been involved in an altercation with a 61-year-old female relative who was visiting at his residence, Harwood said.

"The incident started when the victim observed Mollo repeatedly punching the family’s 4-month old pit bull puppy and tried to intervene," Harwood said. "Mollo responded by pointing a handgun at the victim, threatening to kill her, and then kicking her down a flight of concrete stairs."

The victim sustained multiple injuries from the fall, and was taken to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, which reported the incident to authorities.

"Mollo is known to authorities in Santa Barbara; he has a history of violence that includes the use of a firearm and is affiliated with an outlaw motorcycle gang," Harwood said.

A warrant was obtained for his arrest, and he was located shortly after 6 p.m. at his residence, Harwood said.

When investigators ordered those inside the house to come outside, four people surrendered, Harwood said, but the suspect refused to comply.

Bath Street remained shut down in the area of the incident throughout the evening, and four homes nearby were evacuated, Harwood said.

Residents of several other homes were told to remain inside.

After police took the suspect into custody, they searched the residence and found the gas had been turned on and a lit candle, Harwood said, although there was no fire as a result.

Mollo was being held without bail at Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, battery resulting in bodily injury, brandishing a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, and terrorist threats, Harwood said, adding that more charges may be filed.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff reported from the scene.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

Santa Barbara police were engaged in a standoff on the 800 block of Bath Street Wednesday night with a man wanted on a felony warrant. (Urban Hikers photo)

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