Santa Barbara County – While it’s common knowledge that not all criminal activity is the product of masterful planning or even rational thinking, the felonies allegedly committed by Stephen Howland, 62, a transient frequenting northern Santa Barbara County, on the night of May 6th may clearly qualify for some mental health evaluation at some future date.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, Howland—who had been granted permission by a Cuyama homeowner to bed down in a backyard workshop shed—awakened his sleeping host inside her residence with noise he was making while “breaking off wood from the fence to fuel a fire he had started in the backyard.” Apparently Howland was a skilled outdoorsman, as “the flames were four feet high” by the time they approached the residence structure, at which point the homeowner promptly attempted to douse the flames with a garden hose.
Apparently enamored of his bonfire and willing to protect it at any cost, Howland summarily smacked her in the head with one of the fence boards and threatened her with a pellet gun he had in his possession. At that point, the battered homeowner called out for help with the suggestion that someone call 911 Emergency sooner rather than later, and Howland took that as his cue to flee the scene on foot.
When SBSD deputies arrived, they discovered Howland in a nearby open field, “carrying a crowbar in one hand and a 17” knife in the other hand,” both of which he refused to surrender when ordered to do so. His failure to accede to repeated requests from deputies to drop the crowbar and the knife prompted deputies to use non-lethal tactics to eliminate any threat. When Howland “threw a knife in the direction of the deputy,” a non-lethal bean-bag round was fired, and Howland was immediately subdued and taken into custody.
Howland was found to be in possession of multiple knives, and explained to deputies that he had acted this way only because he thought “people were chasing him.” Transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, Howland was booked on charges of arson and assault with a deadly weapon, with his bail set at $100,000. Presumably people are no longer chasing him and his mental health evaluation will soon follow.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
Lompoc Record: Cuyama transient suspected of arson, assault
EdHat: Cuyama transient arrested
KCLU: Man arrested with knife, crowbar