Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to reports of an attempted sexual assault of a female early Tuesday morning and an unrelated bomb scare in the neighboring area shortly after.
SBCSD personnel were dispatched to an apartment complex on the 6500 block of Seville Road at approximately 1:25 a.m., where a victim was allegedly held at knife- point while taking out her trash. According to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff ’s Department press release, the victim broke free from her attacker and received treatment for a laceration on her leg at a local hospital.
SBCSD Public Information Officer Drew Sugars said suspects in similar cases typi- cally avoid assaulting the victim in public.
“Generally, our calls can be involving people who know each other or a situation where someone entered a residence that might have been unlocked or something like that, but to actually have someone outside try to grab [a victim] — that is not typical at all,” Sugars said.
According to an SBCSD press release, the suspect was identified as a Caucasian male of college age, approximately 5’10”, wearing jeans and a dark sweatshirt.
Kim Equinoa, Assistant Dean of Students at Student Life and Women, Gender and Equality acting director, said numerous campus resources are available 24 hours a day for students and community members in crisis situations.
“During this time, students may feel a heightened awareness of their surroundings and their emotions,” Equinoa said in an email. “We encourage students to seek services in our community if they wish … Ultimately, know that there are many campus and community staff members available to talk and help connect students to services. We encourage students to utilize resources to feel secure in their community.” During investigators’ search for evidence, Sugars said law enforcement agents noticed a metal pipe with PVC caps on both ends that resembled a homemade bomb.
According to Sugars, deputies evacuated residents in four surrounding apartment units and took other precautionary efforts to ensure the potential explosive could not harm civilians.
“The way it was constructed and put together with the PVC caps on the end suggested it could be an explo- sive device,” Sugars said. “We always err on the side of caution, and that is when we called in the bomb squad and checked it out and found that it was, indeed, not a bomb — and that was fortunate for everybody.”
Chelsea Ochoa, a third-year culinary arts major at Santa Barbara City College, said she exited a Seville apartment complex through a bedroom window.
“[Around 3 a.m.] they told us that there was a bomb at the front door and we had to evacuate immedi- ately,” Ochoa said. “[We communicated with officials] through the back bedroom window, furthest away from the front door. After 30 minutes, the fire department came and they had a ladder.”
Officials relocated residents to Embarcadero Hall for about two and a half hours, according to Ochoa. The tenants returned to the caution-taped apartment around 5:45 a.m.