Following reports of a man carrying a rifle down Del Playa Drive and Sabado Tarde Road around 6 p.m. on Sunday, the Nexus spoke with and confirmed the identity and student status of the subject in question on Monday around 1:30 p.m., who confirmed that he is an active duty UC Santa Barbara student serving in the Army but is not a member of the university’s ROTC program.
On Oct. 16, the student, who wished to be identified only as a fourth-year biology major for safety concerns, said he was returning from an undisclosed military base with his personal firearm, a GSG-16 .22 LR, to his apartment in Isla Vista.
When transporting his personal firearm in the open from his vehicle to his apartment, the student said the weapon was unloaded, secured by a gun cable lock and “ready for transport.” According to California law, non concealable firearms, such as rifles, can be legally transported in the open, so long as they are unloaded.
While on the way to his apartment, the student said he believes the rifle caught the attention of a passerby, who then called the police. The student said he was surprised by the reaction to call the police given that he’s transported his personal firearm in I.V. “in the same manner” close to 20 times before with no issues.
In anticipation of law enforcement, the student said he put the rifle back in his trunk and waited for the police to arrive. Three officers from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (SBSO) and Isla Vista Foot Patrol responded to the call, the student said, adding that they spoke with him for no more than 10 minutes.
Once the officers confirmed the student’s rifle was in his name by searching its serial number, he said they let him go, albeit with a warning to be more thoughtful about the way in which he transports his gun in the future given the sensitivity around gun violence in I.V. following the 2014 I.V. tragedy.
“I was doing everything perfectly legal. I talked to [the police] and they said, ‘We just wanted to check up because there was a 2014 shooting,” the student said. “I did not know about this.”
Though the student was not detained or fined and there was never a threat of an active shooter, Noel Rivas, a sergeant with SBSO, told the Nexus around 6 p.m. on Sunday that the subject used “very poor judgement” when he transported his service rifle from his car to his residence by slinging it around his back and carrying it in the open.
“He thought, ‘If I just have the slide open and unloaded, I won’t have any issues,’” Rivas said.
“We got a bunch of calls on it,” Rivas said. “He was strongly urged not to do that in the future.”
Update [10/20/2020, 3:00 p.m.]: This article has been updated to include the student’s account of the situation, who’s identity and military status was confirmed by the Nexus through photographic evidence and confirmation through the student verification system.
Correction [10/20/2020, 03:00 p.m.]: Based off information from SBSO, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the student’s personal firearm was assigned to him as a service weapon and has been corrected to reflect that change.