June 28

Man fatally shot

The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office is investigating an officer involved in a shooting in Santa Maria that left an at-large parolee dead. The incident began at 8:15 a.m. near Bunny Avenue and Lincoln Street, where deputies and officers with the Santa Maria Police Department, who were working on a joint investigation, began following a vehicle with a passenger who was a known parolee at large. As the vehicle approached North Broadway, it suddenly stopped and the parolee, Jose Luis Ortega, 22, jumped out of the car and began running westbound. Within moments, there were multiple gunshots fired. At least one bullet hit the parolee, killing him at the scene. No one else was injured. Authorities say that the man was armed with a handgun at the time of his death.


June 29

An unlikely story

At 9:51 p.m. a deputy turning onto Highway 154 from Edison Street saw a vehicle without its headlights on driving his direction. He stopped the vehicle. The driver, 24, of Santa Maria said he was test-driving the vehicle and had just gotten off work and was headed to the Chumash Casino. He later told the deputy he recently purchased the vehicle, but he could not provide the vehicle’s insurance and registration. He claimed he lost his driver’s license and handed the deputy a photocopy of a license. The deputy searched his vehicle and found nothing illegal. A computer check showed the man’s license was suspended, that the vehicle’s registration expired in 2006 and that the registered owner was under the name of a different man. The driver claimed he was unaware that his license was suspended. His tags were for 2011. The deputies began to tow the vehicle and inside found less than 1 ounce of marijuana inside a glass jar. The man didn’t have a medical marijuana card. He said he bought the vehicle on June 25 for $1,500 from a friend, but he didn’t have the friend’s contact information. He was cited and released on the scene.


June 30

As clear as glass

Deputies were dispatched to the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Solvang on a report of someone breaking glass in the rear parking lot. Upon arrival, they contacted a desk clerk, who said at 12:20 p.m. he received two phone calls from guests stating they heard breaking glass in the rear parking lot of the business. After the clerk received calls, he exited the lobby to the back parking lot and saw a male standing amid broken glass. He also saw the man, 26, of Tempe, Ariz., drop a large object to the ground. The deputy walked to the lot and saw a vehicle with its driver’s-side window broken, as well as glass on the ground. He shined his flashlight on the man and saw the suspect drop several items on the ground, including a GPS vehicle mount, a sunglass case and a plastic bag. He asked the man what he was doing and the man said he intended to sleep. The deputy didn’t believe him and handcuffed him. He noticed the man was swaying and spoke with a thick speech. Later, he smelled alcohol on the man. He found two phone chargers in the man’s pockets, as well as phone cables. One of the vehicle’s owners spoke with the deputy and confirmed that his glove box was opened and appeared to be rummaged through. The center console of his vehicle was also open. He pointed out damage to his driver’s-side door that appeared to be hit with a metal sewer cap, causing an estimated $1,000 in damages. He noticed another vehicle with similar damage but couldn’t locate the owner. The deputy arrested the man and booked him into Lompoc City Jail.


July 1

Unlocked and looted

A man who serves as the video director for the Chumash Casino called authorities after he found several tools from his truck missing. He said he walked to his truck at 1:30 p.m. and found the unsecured tailgate down and his large metal Stanley toolbox missing. He said it was filled with numerous expensive tools. He said the suspects likely lifted the handle to open the tailgate. Because the vehicle had spray-on bed liner on the surface, the deputy could not search for fingerprints. The man noticed before deputies arrived that the access road had a bush that was trampled and that there was a trail of plowed dirt leading to the highway. He also said the toolbox would have required at least two suspects to lift it out of his truck and drag it to the embankment. The case was suspended, pending leads.


July 2

Suspect killed

An officer-involved shooting following a vehicle pursuit near Buellton left a Santa Maria man dead. At 12:42 p.m., a woman called 911 to report that she had returned to her home and suspected someone had broken into her residence and may still be inside. As deputies were responding, an adult male, identified as Matthew Lyell Berg, 47, of Santa Maria was seen leaving the residence and driving away in a small green car. A deputy saw the vehicle speed west on Highway 154 and head onto southbound Highway 101 before exiting at Avenue of Flags in Buellton. Berg then stopped his vehicle on the bridge over the Santa Ynez River. When another sheriff’s deputy heading south in the southbound lanes approached his vehicle, Berg rammed his vehicle into the patrol car. The deputy fired multiple shots that left the man dead at the scene. No deputies were injured during the incident. The sheriff’s deputy was put on paid leave pending an investigation of several officer-involved shootings since June 4.


July 3

Cow carcass

A worker at the San Lorenzo Seminary called to report a cow had been poached on the property. Deputies responded and met with the worker, who said he was alerted to the dead cow when a passerby reported smelling a foul odor on the northwest side of the property. The carcass was located in a ravine south of a dirt road, about 1.5 miles north of Baseline Avenue. Many of the animal’s bones were strewn about, and the cow appeared to have been skinned and butchered. The deputy was unable to determine how the cow was killed. Later, the deputy called the lessee of the property who runs the cattle. The man said he’d been told of the cow a week before but forgot to report the incident. He said there were tracks leading from the dirt down the ravine to the area where the cow was left. He estimated the cow cost $1,300. He could not provide any suspect information. The case was suspended, pending leads.


July 4

You’ve got no mail

At 3:56 p.m. a woman called the Sheriff’s Office to report that her mail had been stolen. She said in late June she retrieved two-thirds of her mail from a full box. She returned and found the remaining mail – including numerous important documents such as bank statements and medical information – missing. She said she recently fired her mother’s caretaker and believed she may have been involved. The deputy was unable to contact the caretaker and advised the woman to contact her bank and take the necessary precautions to determine her personal information was secure.


July 5

Cuts like a knife

Deputies were dispatched to a report of a loud party in the lower Chumash reservation. Upon arrival, a deputy saw a man leave the party and enter the backseat of his parked vehicle. As the deputy approached the vehicle, the man turned on the interior cabin light. The deputy peered in the vehicle and plainly saw that the man was preparing tinfoil from which to smoke marijuana. When the man, 20, of Santa Barbara saw the deputy, he flung the hashish and tinfoil onto the floor mat and tossed a pocketknife onto the rear passenger floor mat. The deputy grabbed the man’s arm and removed him from the vehicle. The man admitted he was cutting cannabis for consumption and said he had a medical marijuana card but it expired. The man was arrested and booked into Lompoc City Jail.