The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. arrested 23-year-old UCSB senior Keith Keiper in connection with the Molotov cocktail attack on the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station on New Year’s Day.
Keiper, who is believed to have acted alone, was arrested on Jan. 25 and pled not guilty to charges of felony arson of an inhabited structure at his arraignment yesterday morning. He is being held in the Santa Barbara County Jail on $250,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 2.
According to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office statement released yesterday, Keiper launched an incendiary device at the front of the IVFP station on Trigo Road shortly before midnight on Jan. 1, causing minor damage to the building.
The New Year’s Day attack came less than two months after a Nov. 15 firebombing of the IVFP station, in which an unknown suspect threw two similar devices and shattered a patrol car windshield.
According to SBCSD Public Information Officer Drew Sugars, detectives are still searching for a suspect tied to the November case.
“As you know, there are two cases: the Nov. 15 attack and a Jan. 1 attack,” Sugars said. “Although both attacks are similar, they are two separate cases. We have one person in custody from Jan. 1 but because we are still looking for the person from Nov. 15, the investigation is open there. Because of that, we are not able to reveal a lot of the details from the second one.”
According to Sugars, the Santa Barbara Police Dept. arrested Keiper — a transfer student from Mira Costa College in Oceanside — on Oct. 5 during the Occupy Santa Barbara demonstrations. Keiper was charged with two misdemeanors for refusing to leave De La Guerra Plaza after hours and refusing to fill out a citation, but authorities say the outcome of that case remains uncertain.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young and Stephan Franklin, the assistant dean of students and director of judicial affairs, both declined to comment on the case.
Marshall Getto, an Occupy SB protest organizer, said the local movement is entirely unaffiliated with Keiper’s attack on the police facility.
“I do not personally see any connection between this incident and the Occupy Movement at all,” Getto said.
According to Getto, the Occupy SB general assembly’s foremost statement of purpose is a declaration of non-violence and demonstrators have maintained their commitment to peaceful assembly.
“Definitely firebombing anything does not fit that description,” Getto said.
Although no personnel were injured in either incident, Sugars said the type of attack is capable of severe collateral damage.
“It gives you an idea of what could happen when you throw essentially a firebomb like that, and fortunately nobody was hurt, but people could have been,” Sugars said. “We did have deputies inside the building at the time, and across the street we have fairly dense housing. It was a very dangerous act, what this person did.”
The FBI issued a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the responsible party in the November attack, which remains in effect. The Sheriff’s Dept. urges anyone with information to contact the Anonymous Tip Line at (805) 681-4171 or the FBI at (805) 642-3995.