SANTA BARBARA — The peaceful Santa Barbara neighborhood known as San Roque — inhabited by a demographic of young families and retirees — experienced an unusual turn of events Wednesday afternoon when a naked adult male was reported by witnesses to be standing in the middle of a quiet residential street.
When one of the witnesses informed the man — who wasn’t actually completely naked as he was indeed wearing a red hat — that 911 was being contacted, the suspect quickly climbed into a nearby car and drove off. The reporting witness followed in his own car, reporting that the suspect was traveling at a high rate of speed and failing to obey area stop signs.
Two hours later, responding Santa Barbara Police Department investigators located the registered address of the suspect’s vehicle, but the suspect was not present. Shortly thereafter Santa Barbara County sheriff’s dispatchers received calls about a nude male committing various lewd acts in front of a local area preschool.
In front of the preschool, additional witnesses confronted the suspect as before, and he once again fled in his car. Minutes later, the speeding vehicle was spotted by patrol deputies. Fleeing at a high rate of speed and weaving through afternoon traffic, the suspect failed to yield to lights and sirens, at which point pursuing deputies were called off the pursuit for public safety reasons.
Moments later, however, the suspect, now identified as Michael Jon Helman, 47, had turned up a cul-de-sac street and discovered that his return escape route was now blocked by a sheriff’s patrol vehicle.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael McGrew reported that Helman then drove his vehicle straight at pursuing deputies, crashed into a residential fence, and then repositioned his car in a second attempt to strike the officers who were now on foot beside their patrol unit. At that point in time, officers fired Tasers at Helman, immobilizing him.
Helman was placed under arrest and was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony evading, assault with a deadly weapon, felony resisting arrest, possession of cocaine and assorted drug paraphernalia, and possession of pornographic contraband, not to mention indecent exposure.