SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Residents in a Santa Barbara neighborhood were evacuated from their homes after a standoff began between police and a man later found to be wielding a machete. The standoff lasted 8 and half hours.
Nicola Zeno Mollo Jr., 39, ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody at about 2:00 in the morning.
Mello was sought by police after a relative was hurt midday Wednesday and taken to the hospital. The victim told investigating officers Mello had been repeatedly punching a 4 month old pit bull puppy, and pushed her down a flight of stairs when she tried to intervene. The relative told police Mello also pointed a gun at her.
SBPD officers went to Mello's home at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of Bath Street with a search warrant. Due to previous encounters with Mello, police brought the SWAT and Crisis Response teams to the scene.
Others in the house obeyed police orders to leave, but Mollo barricaded himself inside, shouting to officers he was armed with an AK-47 assault-style rifle. That later turned out to be false.
Police closed the 800 block of Bath Street to foot and vehicular traffic and began to communicate with Mello via a cell phone, attempting to get him to surrender, which was not successful. The closest neighbors were evacuated. Others were ordered to stay inside their homes.
After an hour and a half with no communication, police fired tear gas through windows into the home. Officers then waited another hour, using a loudspeaker to order Mello to surrender.
Getting no response, SWAT team officers entered the home, where Mollo confronted them armed with the machete. He was shot by a non-lethal projectile by police and retreated to an upstairs portion of the home. Another cell phone was thrown into the upstairs room where Mello was barricaded and negotiations began again.
At 2:25 a.m. Thursday, Mollo went outside and surrendered. He was smiling and appeared to be in good spirits as he was placed in a squad car and taken into custody.
Officers who went in to search the home afterward found natural gas from a kitchen stove with a candle lit. Officers believe Mello may have intended to harm police officers who entered the house after he left.
Police also believe Mollo swung the machete at police in an attempt to be fatally shot.
Mollo now faces charges including assault with a deadly weapon, battery resulting in bodily injury, brandishing a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, and terrorist threats. He is being held at the Santa Barbara County jail with no possibility of bail.23840114