SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has identified the man shot Thursday as 22 year old, Jose Luis Ortega of Santa Maria. The two other people inside the car have been identified as 34 year old, Jose Rangel Rincon and 35 year old Crystal Georgia Marquez. Rincon and Marquez, both from Santa Maria, were arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department is investigating a deadly shooting involving its deputies and undercover officers with the Santa Maria Police Department.
The Sheriff's Department says it was a joint law enforcement operation involving undercover deputies and Santa Maria Police Officers.
"They were following a known gang member and parolee at large," says Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Drew Sugars.
The Sheriff's Department did not immediately reveal why undercover deputies and officers were following the young man.
The Sheriff's Department says the operation led to the corner of Bunny Avenue and North Broadway at about 8:30 Thursday morning where the undercover cops surrounded the car the suspect was riding in as it was pulling into the 7-11 convenience store on the corner.
"That car came to a complete stop, and the subject jumped out of the car and ran", Sugars says.
Witnesses we spoke with say they heard the law enforcement order to the suspect to get on the ground, and then they heard gunshots.
"When the deputies and the officers came around and saw him, and saw that they he was armed, and at some point, shots were fired", Sugars says about the investigation being led by the County Sheriff's Department, "we're trying to determine who fired the shots, how many were fired, what we do know at this point though that he (the suspect) was armed, he was shot, and he died at the scene."
When the shooting was over, an unidentified Hispanic male lay dead in the alleyway behind the 7-11.
It's the latest deadly encounter for a neighborhood that's seen a fatal stabbing last week and the now infamous Santa Maria Police shooting of its own officer Albert Covarrubias Jr. last January, as well as routine police cases in the area.
Business owners and residents in the area we spoke with point much of the blame for the recent violence and bloodshed on low-cost, budget motels in the area they say are attracting a bad element.
"We have a lot of trouble from that motel all the time", said one local business owner on Broadway near Bunny Avenue.
"I'm going to look for a different place, because its too crazy here", added another woman who lives near the corner of Bunny and North Broadway, "I have grand kids, and these bullets flying offline all over the place, no, no, no, I don't think so, this is a dangerous place, a scary place."
"I just don't think it's a safe area", says resident Terry Brooks, "there's too much violence, too much drugs, and too much killing going on."
No word yet on who fired the deadly shots and how many rounds were fired.
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