A seven-week investigation has led to the arrest of two alleged Santa Barbara gang members who allegedly attacked a man with a hammer in a local park in what authorities are calling a hate crime.
David Roberto Ybarra, 19, is facing charges of attempted murder, attempted robbery, participation in a criminal street gang, and commission of a hate crime in connection with the June 22 attack, said Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
A juvenile, Jose Antonio Castro, 17, is being charged with the same crimes, Harwood said.
Castro’s name was released Friday after Santa Barbara County prosecutors decided to charge him as an adult, according to Deputy District Attorney Von Nguyen.
Both suspects were in court Friday for arraignment, Nguyen said, adding that she expected the case to be continued.
The attack at Ortega Park occurred shortly after 10 p.m on June 22, Harwood said.
“Upon arrival, the officers located witnesses and the crime scene, however, the victim had already left the area with a friend,” Harwood said. “Shortly thereafter, the victim was located at his residence suffering from a serious head injury.”
He was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he underwent treatment for approximately a week, Harwood said.
The victim, a 40-year-old Santa Barbara man with no gang affiliation, was attacked while he was playing cards in the park, Harwood said.
“Ybarra, the juvenile suspect, and an associate approached the group, identified themselves as gang members, and told the victim and his companions that they were not welcome in the park because of their Mexican nationality,” Harwood said.
“After hearing someone in the group whistle, which was perceived by the suspects as an insult or challenge, the suspects singled out the victim and approached him. ,” Harwood said. “Ybarra produced a hammer from his clothing and struck the victim on his head in the area of his left temple.”
The two suspects and their companion then fled the scene, Harwood said.
Ybarra was arrested Aug. 9 after being released from Santa Barbara County Jail for a different offense,
He subsequently was booked into County Jail, with bail set at $780,000, Harwood said.
Castro was booked into Juvenile Hall on the same charges two days later, Harwood said.