Héctor Sánchez Castañeda
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an alleged hate crime that occurred Sunday afternoon at Estero Park in Isla Vista. A sheriff’s deputy responded to a local hospital at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Sunday to an alleged assault of a 28-year-old LGBTQ-identifying male and I.V. resident, according to Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover.
The victim was playing basketball by himself when two black male adults approached the court and told him he was not welcome there.
When the victim refused to leave, one of the suspects, described as a 6-foot-1-inch tall black male adult between the ages of 18 and 21 with short dreadlocks wearing black shorts, a grey basketball shirt, and possibly black shoes, proceeded to make derogatory statements toward the victim relating to his sexual orientation. The same suspect then physically assaulted the victim, causing extensive damage that required surgery at the hospital.
The second suspect, described as a 5-foot-8-inch tall black male adult between 22 to 23 years old with long dreadlocks, did not take part in the physical assault, but allegedly stood by as the attack occurred.
Ethan Bertrand, President of the I.V. Community Services District, posted on Facebook information on the incident, which he didn’t learn about until Thursday at a public meeting with stakeholders held once a month. Bertrand wrote on his post that he was “very concerned with the response of the Sheriff’s Office” regarding the release of information.
The Sheriff’s Office decided to “not inform the larger community of this incident,” according to Bertrand.
The victim suffered from a fractured jaw and will have his jaw wired shut for the next six weeks, according to Bertrand.
There has been no public information made available on the Sheriff’s Office social media accounts of the incident since Sunday, something that Bertrand pointed out is uncommon with crimes of this magnitude.
Hoover wrote in an email that the Sheriff’s Office has been “actively investigating the case and following leads to identify and locate the suspect.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division at (805) 681-4150.