Bath Street home invasion
Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

With a full 2½ weeks left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have reclaimed their rightful reign atop the National League Western Division.

They’re on pace to win a ridiculous 113 games, but what counts now are the 11 that come afterward.

Dodger fans want it all, and we deserve nothing less. What’s truly energizing Dodger Nation is that every member of this team is laser-focused on achieving the same thing.

These next two months are going to be exciting.

The opposite of exciting are the Top 5 stories you were reading this past week on Noozhawk. My weekly recap is covering a dark period this time, but I don’t make the Top 5; I just write about whatever is in it.

Even our traffic was off, with an audience of 92,169 readers for the period, according to our Google Analytics.

I apologize for the lack of cheerfulness, but if you read to the end, a baby panda may leave you with a smile.

1. Multiple Suspects Sought in Home-Invasion Robbery in Santa Barbara

Several gun-wielding suspects burst into an apartment near downtown Santa Barbara on Sept. 11 in a sketchy, apparent home-invasion robbery.

As our Tom Bolton was first to report, Santa Barbara police were dispatched around 12:30 p.m. to an apartment building in the 1800 block of Bath Street, between West Islay and West Pedregosa streets.

“It seems there were several suspects who entered an apartment with guns,” Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale told Tom, adding that officers were still trying to interview victims and witnesses and attempting to determine what had been taken.

No one was hurt in the incident, which Ragsdale described as “isolated.”

“There does not seem to be a threat to members of the public,” he said.

I suppose we should all feel reassured about that since police did not provide descriptions of the suspects or note the size of the crew.

2. Major Injuries Reported in Suspected DUI Crash in Santa Barbara

Castillo Street crash

When you hit the wall, the wall wins. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

The driver of a Ford Escape was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after an early morning crash landed him — and two companions — in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on Sept. 9.

As our Tom Bolton first reported, emergency personnel were dispatched just before 1:30 a.m. to the Castillo Street underpass at Highway 101.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said the driver lost control of the SUV and slammed into the wall while trying to turn onto Castillo Street after taking the southbound exit ramp at a high rate of speed.

A back-seat passenger suffered major injuries while the driver and his front-seat passenger had less severe injuries.

All three men were transported by American Medical Response ambulances to the hospital.

Ragsdale said the driver — identified as 25-year-old Ray Timothy Oberholtzer of Santa Barbara — was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving causing injury. He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $100,000.

The names of the two passengers were not released.

Police are investigating the circumstances of the wreck.

3. False Report of Active Shooter Leads to Evacuation of Bishop Diego High School

Bishop Diego High School

A fake report of a mass school shooting at Santa Barbara’s Bishop Diego High School brought a very real response. (KEYT News photo)

Bishop Diego High School was thrown into turmoil Sept. 14 after authorities received a perverse, bogus report of an active shooter on the campus on Santa Barbara’s northside, with nearly two dozen victims.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale told our Tom Bolton that scores of law enforcement officers swarmed the campus at 4000 La Colina Road around 1 p.m. after dispatchers received a 9-1-1 call reporting a gunman with “18 people down.”

While students and staff were swiftly evacuated to the nearby parking lot of Sansum Clinic, at 215 Pesetas Lane, authorities scoured the school only to find … nothing.

No gunman, no victims, no evidence, Ragsdale said.

“There was no threat to anybody, nobody was injured, and we’re seeing zero signs of an active shooter,” he said.

The lockdown was called off about 40 minutes later, but the rest of the day was anything but normal — for those on campus or for family members and friends.

As police, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers gradually withdrew from the scene, Ragsdale said the fake report was under investigation and that FBI assistance had been requested.

“It is believed the caller is not a student or anyone directly associated with the high school,” he said.

Bishop Diego was not the only school to be victimized. A string of fake reports of mass shootings or threats targeted more than a dozen schools throughout California and Texas, including at least one other Catholic school, Mater Dei High School in Chula Vista.

All were determined to be false, but the hoaxes caused widespread chaos with campus lockdowns and large-scale police responses.

4. 1 Dead, 3 Hurt in Rollover Crash on Ballard Canyon Road in Santa Ynez Valley

Ballard Canyon Road crash

Unfortunately, what you can’t see is much, much worse. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

A rollover crash on Ballard Canyon Road north of Solvang took a devastating toll on the Santa Ynez Valley the night of Sept. 12 with one young man killed and his three companions critically injured in the wreck.

As our Tom Bolton was first to report, emergency personnel were dispatched around 10:20 p.m. to the single-vehicle crash near Roble Blanco Road, a little more than a mile north of Highway 246.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. Scott Safechuck said the four occupants required extensive extrication from the wrecked BMW M3 sedan, which had landed on its roof under a tree about 20 feet down an embankment.

The driver — identified by the California Highway Patrol as 19-year-old Roberto Garcia Jr. of Solvang — was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

The CHP said three passengers — 19-year-old Viviana Figueroa of Solvang and two 18-year-olds, Georgia Jensen of Buellton and Emely Suarez of Solvang — suffered moderate to major injuries and were transported to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria.

According to authorities, Garcia was driving north on Ballard Canyon Road when he missed a curve and went over the embankment.

The circumstances of the wreck are under investigation by the CHP, which said alcohol and drugs do not appear to be factors.

Garcia was a second-year student at Santa Barbara City College, according to SBCC officials. All four graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

A funeral Mass and Rosary for Garcia are scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 16 at Mission Santa Inés, 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang, with burial to follow at Oak Hill Cemetery, 2560 Baseline Ave. in Ballard. Arrangements are by Loper Funeral Chapel in Solvang.

5. Incident with Despondent Man on Highway 101 Bridge Ends Peacefully

West Micheltorena Street overpass

Crisis averted. (Peter Hartmann / Noozhawk photo)

A 34-year-old man undergoing an apparent mental-health crisis was safely removed from a bridge over Highway 101 near downtown Santa Barbara the morning of Sept. 10.

As our Janene Scully first reported, the California Highway Patrol, Santa Barbara police and Santa Barbara firefighters were dispatched to the West Micheltorena Street overcrossing around 12:30 a.m.

Police Sgt. Doug Klug told Janene that the man was standing outside the bridge fence, and that officers talked him into moving to a safer place. They then connected him with mental-health services, he said.

The man’s identity was not disclosed.

Authorities said the freeway was closed for about a half-hour during the incident.

Click here for suicide prevention resources that are available 24/7.

Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Access Line counselors can be reached at 888.868.1649, and the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is always available by calling 9-8-8.

•        •        •

Good Reads

Here are six more stories that are worth your while:

» Goleta Beach Restaurant, Set to Open in January, at Center of Lawsuit Against Its Operators — What’s going on at the long-vacant Goleta Beach restaurant, you ask? Quite a lot, and not all of it good. Staff writer Serena Guentz goes over the menu.

» Solvang Says ‘Velkommen Igen’ — Welcome Again — as Danish Days Returns — After a two-year forced hiatus, North County editor Janene Scully says, Solvang is all set to serve up the aebleskivers and more as Danish Days returns this weekend.

» Fourth Santa Barbara County Farm Day Provides Peek Into Ag Operations — Too few locals, two few Americans, understand where our food comes from. Janene Scully reports on Santa Barbara County Farm Day plowing new ground to change that. Noozhawk is proud to be a sponsor.

» Mark Patton: Remembering the Team That Saved Bishop Diego Football — Sports columnist Mark Patton retraces the roots of Bishop Diego High’s extraordinary gridiron dominance from the days of the Killer Cardinals.

» Foresters Invite Community to Title Celebration Party on Sunday — Fresh off their third straight National Baseball Congress championship — and their record-setting 10th title — the Santa Barbara Foresters are throwing a community celebration. Sports editor Barry Punzal has the lineup.

» Dos Pueblos Mock Trial Team Returns to International Empire Competition — South Coast high schools just seem to reload their powerhouse mock-trial teams each year, and Dos Pueblos High is no exception. In making the case for the school’s Empire tournament team, Jacob Molina proves the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If you know you know.

•        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Burglary at Mesa Home Presents New Challenge to County Fire Department Information Officer.

•        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I’m waiting for it to go live over Montecito: How Is Starlink Changing Internet Connectivity?

•        •        •

Best of Bill’s Instagram

Thanks to the @dodgers, the world has returned to normal in my Instagram feed. We’re not done yet, though.

•        •        •

Watch It

Panda-monium, or drama queen?


A post shared by Ted (@thehilarious.ted)

(@thehilarious.ted video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.