Santa Barbara County – “Just another day in paradise” was at one time the Chamber of Commerce’s phrase for the lifestyle of those enjoying the temperate Mediterranean climate and rolling vineyards sprawling throughout much of Santa Barbara County. But “paradise” seems to overstate the reality of late, as yet another law enforcement officer-involved shooting occurred just after sunset in downtown Santa Maria on July 30th.
A 911 Emergency call alerted authorities to an armed man threatening patrons of a local gas station, whereupon a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s patrol sergeant observed the suspect that dispatch operators had described to him. According to SBSD spokesman Sgt. Mark Williams, “the suspect told the sergeant that he was armed and had guns in his vehicle.”
At that point, the sergeant ordered the suspect to surrender, but Jose Naveja, 71, had other ideas. He jumped back into his car and drove off through city streets. “Other agencies were quickly involved,” Williams reported, including units of California Highway Patrol and patrol officers from the Santa Maria Police Department, all of whom were engaged in what became a “slow speed pursuit”.
Apparently realizing that evasion was unlikely, Naveja brought his vehicle to a stop in the northern area of the Santa Maria suburbs. At that time, reports indicate that he threw several firearms out of his car, then alighted from the vehicle, attempted to pick up one of the guns and brandished it toward the officers, who responded with multiple shots resulting in Naveja’s death.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Detectives are conducting an ongoing investigation to learn further details of the altercation, including the number of shots fired, the number of bullets entering Naveja’s body, and the identities of the officers firing those shots.
This was the sixth officer-involved shooting in the north county area in the past eight months.
Photos: courtesy: www.kcoy.com
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