Two Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Deputies and two citizens are recovering from wounds following an incident in Goleta today in which a man opened fire with a weapon that appears to be a high-powered pellet gun.

Just before 1pm on Saturday, January 15, 2011, Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of an aggressive panhandler at the Goleta Marketplace. While responding to the call, the Sheriff’s deputies were informed that witnesses had reported the man had a gun. Minutes later, deputies spotted the adult male subject in the vacant lot on the east side of Storke Road just north of the Hollister Avenue intersection.

Three deputies emerged from two patrol vehicles and ordered the man to drop a handgun that the man was holding. Witnesses say the man ignored the order and began firing the weapon that has since been inspected and appears to be a high-powered pellet gun. The pellets hit two deputies; one deputy was hit in the face and the other was hit in the forearm. The two deputies were taken to Goleta Valley Hospital for their injuries which do not appear to be life threatening.

After the man opened fire, all three deputies were able to return fire with their service firearms hitting the suspect more than once. The subject was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for emergency treatment. The extent of his wounds is not known at this time, nor has his identity been confirmed.

During the investigation, it was learned that the suspect had shot two citizens as he walked from the Goleta Marketplace to the intersection at Storke Road and Hollister Avenue where the final confrontation took place with Sheriff’s deputies. One citizen was treated at the scene; the other citizen was taken to GVCH for what do not appear to be life threatening injuries.

Multiple personnel from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident. The California Highway Patrol also assisted by directing traffic at the intersection as Sheriff’s detectives and other personnel gathered evidence.

If more information becomes available, it will be distributed via an updated news release.

— Drew Sugars is a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.