Police identify suspect involved in downtown Santa Barbara stabbing

Suspect was found injured inside City Hall


On Wednesday, Santa Barbara police confirmed they arrested 36-year-old Santa Barbara resident Juan Jesus Ortiz in connection with a stabbing that occurred in downtown Santa Barbara on May 23.

Ortiz was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for assault with a deadly weapon after reportedly stabbing the victim several times.

Police say the crime could possibly be drug related.



A reported fight in a walkway at the Paseo Nuevo Mall left both the victim and reported suspect injured.

Both took off in different directions and police were swarming a multi-block area to find everyone responsible, witnesses and gather surveillance video.

The incident occurred about 12:30 p.m.

A man with his clothing covered in blood apparently called for help while on the ground by a business building near Garden and Gutierrez streets. It took several minutes to find him due to his distressed condition. Santa Barbara police say the initial call reported the victim at Vera Cruz Park.

The man was urgently treated at the scene for one or more serious stab wounds and then taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Santa Barbara fire and police sealed off the area for the rescue and search for clues.

During the investigation, police received calls about a man inside Santa Barbara City Hall with a hand injury in the bathroom. Police found that man who is believed to have been in the fight. Surveillance video is being reviewed from a store in the mall to piece together what happened and when.

Sources also say a knife was found inside the men's bathroom at City Hall and some blood was on the floor.

The man inside was taken to the hospital, but was, at times, not cooperative with police while inside the AMR ambulance. That delayed his transport to the emergency room.

Over 20 officers were deployed to the scene where the victim was found, to City Hall,  Vera Cruz Park and the Paseo Nuevo Mall. Police Chief Lori Luhnow also came to the scene. 

An investigating officer said many details are being investigated but an arrest would be made.

Police say the identities of those involved are being withheld due to the on-going investigation. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Santa Barbara Police Department at 805-897-2300.

The police department released the following bullet-point synopsis:

  • Victim and suspect are involved in a verbal altercation in front of the AT&T Store in Paseo Nuevo.
  • The argument turns physical and suspect stabs victim in the back.
  • The victim leaves the area and walks to Vera Cruz Park and calls a family member who in turn calls 911.
  • Victim is found at Office Max suffering from 2 stab wounds.
  • Victim is transported via AMR to Cottage where he is currently in fair condition with non-life threatening stab wounds.
  • Suspect shows up at City Hall with a bloody wound to his hand.
  • Officers respond to City Hall and conduct a search of the premises.
  • The suspect was located, arrested and subsequently transported to Cottage for treatment of a minor injury.
  • A weapon was also recovered at City Hall.
  • An independent witness identified the suspect as the primary aggressor of the altercation at Paseo Nuevo.



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