UCSB Student Arrested After Assaulting I.V. Pastor

Paul Gusman / Image Courtesy of Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

Héctor Sánchez Castañeda
Isla Vista Beat Reporter

University of California, Santa Barbara third-year geography major Paul Gusman was arrested after forcing entry to Father Jon-Stephen Hedges’ house in Isla Vista and physically assaulting him, according to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. Saturday morning, Gusman began hurling his body against Hedges’s front door, the report states. After Hedges opened the door to see if someone needed help, Gusman assaulted him, reportedly punching him in the face over 30 times.

Hedges’ wife, Khouria Melissa Hedges, called 9-1-1 and officers arrived to find Gusman, who “appeared under the influence of a controlled substance(s) and possibly intoxicated,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Gusman has been booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail and is being held on $500,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for May 10.

After receiving treatment at Cottage Hospital, Hedges was released and is now recovering from his injuries, according to KEYT.

Authorities believe the attack was random and that Gusman did not know Hedges previously. Hedges, a UCSB alumnus, is a volunteer chaplain with the Sheriff’s Office and serves as assistant pastor at St. Athanasius Orthodox Church.

UPDATE Tuesday, May 10, 2:28 p.m.:
On Tuesday, May 10, Gusman pleaded not guilty to felony charges of first degree residential burglary, assault with personal use of deadly weapon, dissuading a witness by force or threat and elder abuse.

Gusman’s attorney stated that two Lieutenants from the Army National Guard attended the arraignment with plans to support and monitor Gusman, should he be released from jail, according to KEYT.

Gusman’s next hearing is scheduled for May 12.

The Bottom Line will publish more information regarding this case as it becomes available.