Santa Barbara locals, Central Coast tourists, and traveling passers-by frequently make the trip over La Cumbre Pass to tempt the fate of Lady Luck at the Chumash Casino, located between the Danish-themed town of Solvang and the “cowboy” environs of Santa Ynez.
Just after midnight, at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Michael Howard Burritt, 46, perhaps feeling a little too much “cowboy” coursing through his veins, allegedly prowled the casino’s parking structure and jumped into a car driven by a woman, held a knife to her throat, and commanded her to drive off the premises.
The victim, in an obvious state of considerable alarm, screamed as she opened her driver’s door in an attempt to flee. But Burritt, startled by her lack of cooperation and considerable vocalization, immediately changed plans—if he ever had one—and crawled over the driver, himself tumbling out of the vehicle via her open door.
The victim, observing Burritt’s flight out of the parking area and into a heavily-shrubbed creek, immediately dialed 911 Emergency.
According to Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, “Deputies responded, set up a perimeter, and brought in a K-9 unit to help search for the suspect.” Not long after, Burritt was observed moving through Chumash Reservation land with considerable alacrity, and a footrace ensued.
As such things routinely go, Burritt’s long-distance running ability was no match for K-9 “Gango”, who dogged him down among a thicket of brambles and bushes. Gango managed to overcome Burritt’s resisting arrest as only a dog can, and when deputies caught up with the suspect, he had multiple cuts and punctures on his hands and torso. The gallant canine himself suffered multiple puncture wounds which are believed to have been caused by a nearby barbed wire fence.
Burritt was arrested on charges of carjacking, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and armed robbery. Deputies at the scene learned that Burritt had been in the company of his wife, Diane Evelyn Burritt, 47. She was quickly located still inside the casino, and when identified, was determined to have had a warrant pending for her arrest. Both were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, where Diane Burritt’s bail was set at $5,000, and Michael Burritt was denied bail.
Photos: Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
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