Four gang members charged in stabbing

SANTA BARBARA – Four alleged “Westside” gang members, including two 17-year-olds who may be tried as adults, were arraigned Friday in Santa Barbara Superior Court for a violent stabbing while a fifth co-conspirator is still being sought.

Richard Soto

According to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey, “all the suspects as well as the victim are known to law enforcement as active gang members.”

Robert Aldaz

Robert Aldaz, 18, Richard Soto, 20, Ricardo Pineda, 17, Juan Maldonado, 17, and Juan Villa, 19, are all alleged to have perpetrated a violent stabbing attack on the streets of Santa Barbara’s east side at approximately 9:30 p.m. on March 30. Their 18-year-old victim, a rival gang member, suffered multiple serious stab wounds and was transported from the scene to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where he gave a description of his assailants and their vehicle.

The following day, police made a routine traffic stop of a car matching the description of the suspected assailant vehicle not far from the crime scene. The driver, Aldaz, was observed to have a fresh wound on his hand.

“The officer observed blood stains on the car seats and conducted a search,” McCaffrey told the media on March 31, “and a knife was found in the vehicle.”

All three occupants of the vehicle were detained for questioning, which led to the immediate arrest of Aldaz. Four days later, on April 4, Soto, Pineda and Maldonado were located and arrested. Villa was then identified as an active participant in the assault but has not been apprehended and remains at large.

Santa Barbara police detectives urge anyone with information about this crime or the whereabouts of Villa to contact them at (805) 897-2355.


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