July 2 – Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County law enforcement marked a third deadly officer-involved shooting in less than a month, when a simple 911 Emergency call from a homeowner to report a daylight residential break-in quickly devolved into a high-speed freeway pursuit that ended with the suspect ramming a black-and-white, and officers responding with deadly gunfire.
A female resident of Buellton returned home from a shopping trip just after noon on July 2nd to discover evidence that her home had been broken into. According to Drew Sugars, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Public Information Officer, the woman “feared that someone was still inside the house” when she dialed 911 to report her suspicions. Responding deputies spotted a lone male suspect driving away from the residence.
Deputies summarily pursued his vehicle onto the southbound lanes of U.S. 101. Shortly thereafter, the suspect vehicle exited the freeway at a high rate of speed and was soon traveling against the flow of traffic “the wrong way, northbound, in the southbound lanes,” on a heavily-traveled access road, Sugars reported. By that time, both CHP and SBSD units were in pursuit with multiple chase vehicles approaching the Santa Ynez River Bridge, where the suspect vehicle came to a halt.
At that time, yet another Sheriff’s unit approached the suspect vehicle, whereupon the suspect accelerated abruptly and rammed into the front of the black-and-white. The deputy quickly alighted from his patrol unit and opened fire, killing the suspect, later identified as Matthew Lyell Berg, 47, of Santa Maria.
The officer-involved shooting forced the closure of the freeway for the following twelve hours, creating a major traffic diversion and high levels of pre-holiday congestion throughout the neighboring coastal roadways.
The deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.
Photos: courtesy City of Buellton, Santa Barbara County Jail Booking, KCOY-TV
Lompoc Record: Deputy on leave following fatal shooting