A Santa Maria man has been arrested on suspicion of making threats against Santa Maria Police Department officers and their families.
Officers were alerted at 9:46 p.m. Friday about social media posts with threats reportedly made by Albert Varelas, 34, of Santa Maria, Sgt. Daniel Rios said.
“During the initial investigation, several more social media posts were made by Varelas and observed by officers in real time involving further threats against SMPD officers and family members,” Rios said. “Varelas’ threats referenced previous police contact and current threats to ‘kill’ officers and family members.”
Further investigation confirmed that Varelas was targeting and stalking officers’ homes in the Santa Maria area, Rios added.
A screenshot of a post recirculated Saturday shows the man claiming he was “out hunting” and had “a list of addresses for all Santa Maria police officers.”
After obtaining a warrant for the arrest of Varelas because of the criminal threats, officers initially were unable to locate him.
On Saturday morning, the Detectives Bureau took over the investigation and tracked the suspect to the Orcutt area near Foster Road and Hummel Drive.
At about 2 p.m. with assistance from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Maria patrol officers, police detectives safely located and arrested Varelas without incident.
Varelas was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of making criminal threats. He remained in custody as of Sunday evening with bail set at $250,000.
Investigators also will be recommending that the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office review the case for possible stalking charges, Rios said.
Anyone with information related to this investigation is encouraged to contact Detective Eduardo Servin at 805.928.3781 x1362 or the SMPD Communications Center at 805.928.3781 x2277.