A Montecito man was in custody on Monday, hours after threatening to detonate an explosive device, which prompted an evacuation order, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
The incident began at about 3:15 a.m at a home on the 1300 block of Virginia Road, east of Olive Mill Road, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
“We have a resident claiming to have an explosive device,” Hoover said at about 8:15 a.m.
A few minutes later, smoke and flames were seen coming from the home, and the suspect surrendered, Hoover said, adding that crews from the Montecito Fire Protection District quickly doused the blaze.
The man, David Tallman, 66, was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for a medical evaluation, Hoover said.
He faces charges of criminal threats and resisting arrest, Hoover said.
A Sheriff’s Department robot was deployed to check the interior of the home, Hoover said, and authorities obtained a search warrant.
“Investigators searched Tallman’s home and found two small acetylene tanks and one oxygen tank which he allegedly used to make jewelry,” Hoover said. “They did not find any firearms or ammunition.”
The incident began when Tallman called 911 and told dispatchers he had several acetylene tanks, firearms and ammunition, and was threatening to use them to blow up his house, Hoover said.
“For the next several hours, the Sheriff’s Department was negotiating on and off with the suspect,” Hoover said.
Virginia Road was closed down during the incident, and authorities briefly shut down nearby Highway 101, Hoover said.
Olive Mill Road also was shut down in the area, although shortly after 9 a.m., all of the closures were lifted, except for a portion of Virginia Road.
Nearly 140 residences in the area were alerted via reverse notification calls through the 9-1-1 system at about 4:20 a.m., and were evacuated to All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Eucalyptus Lane, Hoover said.
Others were directed to shelter in place.
“It was quite a morning,” said Sheri Benninghoven, who with another parishioner opened up the church for evacuees at about 4:40 a.m.
“Two of us went down and opened the doors, put the coffee on, and found cookies, crackers and dog bowls,” Benninghoven said.
By 8 a.m., most of the evacuees had left the church to find breakfast or wait out the incident with family or friends, she added.
Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper reported from the scene.