Santa Barbara County Sheriff ’s Deputies responded to multiple gunshots being fired on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road during the early morning hours of Saturday and have taken two suspects into custody in connection with the incident.
At around 1:12 a.m., officers set up a perimeter surrounding the area of 6573 Sabado Tarde, blockading the road while officers advised nearby residents to remain inside their homes. The suspected shooter — 21-year-old Isla Vista resident Thomas Christensen — attempted to f lee the scene by crawling out of a window at the 6573 Sabado residence, but was detained once an eyewitness identified him as the shooter. No one was injured in the incident and Christensen was charged with shooting a firearm with gross negligence and carrying a loaded firearm, a handgun which he does not own. The second suspect, 21 year-old Isla Vista resident Brett Harris, was uncooperative with law enforcement at the time of his arrest — which took place later around 5:30 a.m. — and was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing or delaying a peace officer. Deputies collected several handguns and ammunition from the home and booked them as evidence for the case.
Christensen and Harris were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail and Christensen’s bail was set at $35,000 while Harris’s bail was set at $2,500. After evacuating residents inside the 6573 Sabado complex and escorting them to Embarcadero Hall at around 4 a.m., law enforcement cleared the scene and allowed residents to return at around 7 a.m.
Brianna Franco, a second-year political science and communication major who lives at the complex where the incident occurred, said the shooting began abruptly.
“I was sitting on the couch talking to my boyfriend and all of a sudden, you just hear boom, boom, boom and then a short pause and then I hear it again,” Franco said. “There were at least eight to 10 gunshots, I would say.”
Second-year physics major and witness Gayle Schumacher said officers responded immediately, clearing the street and searching for the suspected shooter.
“The cops responded almost instantaneously and I ran out of my living room and me and all my other roommates were … watching everything unfold and the cops were there in, like, seconds,” Schumacher said. “They were staking out and pulling out their guns and hiding behind cars and all that stuff.”
As law enforcement searched for the shooter, residents were told to remain inside their homes while pedestrians walking through the alley beside the residence were searched and questioned, according to Franco.
“[The cops would tell residents] ‘Just go inside, lock your windows and stay inside.’ If anyone would open their door to see what was happening, basically, cops would just yell at them to go back inside. They weren’t letting anyone outside the building,” Franco said. “Anyone who came through [the alley] would have guns pointed at them and [police officers] would say, ‘Stay there — put your hands up,’ and then they would pat them down as they came by. That happened for about an hour. They weren’t letting anyone in or out, basically.”
While law enforcement officials were able to detain Christensen almost immediately, they arrested Harris hours later since he refused to leave the 6573 residence at the time of the incident. At around 5:30 a.m., a Special Enforcement Team set off two flash bang grenades, forcing Harris to finally leave the residence.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of November 19th, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.