Armed intruder false alarm puts Santa Barbara City College on lockdown

Abbie Leffler, Staff Writer

A suspect identified as Fernando Perez Huerta was taken into custody by the Santa Barbara Police Department following a lockdown at Santa Barbara Community College in the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 29. 

The school was put on lockdown after the Santa Barbara Police Department informed campus security that they believed the wanted person may be armed and dangerous, and in the wooded area behind the college library. The reports of a possible armed intruder surfaced and caused panic throughout the college community and the surrounding neighborhoods. 

The police said the incident stemmed from a no bail warrant. The man in question, Huerta, had failed to appear in court several times. The man ran away from law enforcement when they tried to serve the warrant and that prompted a search into the surrounding community and parts of the community college for the man. 

Huerta is a convicted felon and has been found carrying a firearm in the past, so that was concerning while the police department continued their search. Fortunately, when they finally detained the man he was found to not have a firearm on him. It caused more panic when SBCC referred to Huerta as an “armed intruder,” but they wanted to be as cautious as possible with the situation to ensure the safety of the students on campus. 

Huerta was arrested and detained by the police department around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a neighborhood a couple of blocks from the city college. He was taken into custody near the corner of Del Sol and La Marina.

Santa Barbara City College first sent a notification to the campus community around 5:45 p.m. saying “Armed intruder SBCC Main Campus Cliff Drive, take appropriate action, RUN HIDE OR FIGHT!” Later on they clarified that the college was on lockdown due to the police investigation that was happening. The initial notification painted a bleaker picture than what was actually happening. 

Huerta fled on foot when deputies attempted to apprehend him, which made the search more difficult. Sheriff’s personnel asked for mutual aid from the Police Department, the California Highway Patrol and the city Harbor Patrol in the search for Huerta. 

In addition to the warrant, Huerta was booked in Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of resisting arrest, trespassing, and loitering. As of Thursday, Oct. 30, he was being held at the county jail without bail. 

Reports of the gunman on the community college campus were essentially false and led to a “hysterical” reaction, according to a spokesman from the Santa Barbara Police Department. The police department never instituted the college lockdown. The lockdown was merely a precaution instituted by the college due to the police search for the wanted suspect and was lifted after police arrested the man in question. 

The campus lockdown was lifted by 6:46 p.m. and thankfully no one was harmed. The situation was taken care of pretty quickly, but it was still a scary evening for a lot of Santa Barbara residents and students. 


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