Violence sends Santa Barbara jail into lockdown

SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara County Jail remains on strict lockdown following this weekend’s third incidence of deadly violence in as many weeks.

Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Drew Sugars says the most recent episode featured the slashing of an inmate that sent him to the hospital with injuries requiring multiple stitches. Sugars further described the incident as “a fairly serious gang fight involving 18 individuals,” one of which was the injured party.

Specifics of the particular weapon involved have not been released simply because it has not yet been identified.

Once inmate order was forcibly restored, investigators discovered various other makeshift weapons, including pieces of finely sharpened plexiglass and clubs made of compressed and rolled newspapers.

Earlier recent violence involved an attack by Roberto Barrera, currently held on murder charges, and Arturo Pimentel, held on felony parole violation and possession of a weapon, both of whom are alleged to have jumped and beaten another man in the jail showers.  Both face additional charges of assault with intent to produce great bodily injury.

Roberto Barrera

Arturo Pimentel

This attack closely followed yet another prior assault between inmates that sent the victim to the hospital with broken bones.

Following the complete facility lockdown, sheriff’s deputies and custody personnel this weekend spent in excess of 24 hours conducting close personal searches of all inmates, and made detailed inspections of all inmate custody and cell areas. These searches revealed a number of makeshift weapons, all of which are now held as evidence of custody rule violations.

When questioned about the cause of the recent outbursts of physical violence, Sugars indicated that with the severity of street crimes currently being prosecuted in the courts, the inmate population in Santa Barbara now reflects the nature of those perpetrators.

“Ten percent of our inmates are facing murder and attempted murder counts,” he said, “and plenty of them have already done state prison time.”


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