Jun 28, 2012 10:36 PM by Nikki Ibarra, KSBY News

Locals react to officer-involved shooting in Santa Maria, say crime is becoming too common

UPDATE: We now know the identity of the man who was shot and killed in Santa Maria Thursday morning.

Police say he is 22 year old Jose Luis Ortega, from Santa Maria.

Ortega was killed after an officer-involved shooting this morning in Santa Maria.

Police said the dead man was a gang member in his 20's, and a wanted parolee.

The Santa Maria Police Department, as well as the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, were following him as part of a joint investigation.

It happened around 8 Thursday morning, behind the 7-Eleven at the corner of North Broadway and Bunny Street.

The armed man was shot by police as he jumped out of his car and ran behind a truck.

Investigators are still figuring out how many shots were fired.

KSBY has been reporting on a lot of violent crime in that area in the past few months.

Just last week, a man was stabbed to death on Bunny Street and North Broadway.

Back in January, less than a block away, Officer Albert Covarrubias Jr. was killed in an officer-involved shooting.

Irene Aguiniga moved here from Los Angeles just about four years ago, hoping to get away from what she calls, 'big city crime.'

"I just came over here to raise my kids and now it's starting to get like this and it kind of wants to make me kind of go somewhere else and I don't want to because I love Santa Maria," said Aguiniga.

Aguiniga was driving down Broadway Thursday morning to take her fiance something to eat, when she suddenly came across police cars and yellow tape.

"It's kind of scary. Now it's like, it's coming over here with me," added Aguiniga.

That yellow tape went all the way to a woman's house. She spent the morning clearing it from her yard, so her kids can play.

But for many in this neighborhood, violence is becoming all too familiar. "It's been happening a lot. I was just wondering what was the next time. And, here it is," said Cassandra Diaz of Santa Maria.

Diaz lives on Bunny Street, and she said at night, she tries to avoid this area as much as possible. "Yeah, I don't know what to think no more. It's not safe anymore," added Diaz.

But Johnathan Brislane, who's lived in Santa Maria for 43 years, tells his kids to avoid this corner all together. "When I was growing up, I used to be able to go all over Santa Maria with no worries but now I want to keep them in doors, where I know they're safe," said Brislane.

And with this being the third shooting or stabbing in 6 months, Aguiniga is thinking twice about her decision to move here. "You come out of your house thinking it's safe to come out, and you see this and it makes you not want to come out," Aguiniga added.

Santa Maria Police Chief, Danny Macagni, said he knows the area of North Broadway and Bunny is considered a 'hot spot', but he said, his men and women are already heavily patrolling the area.

The results of the sheriff's investigation will be sent to the Santa Barbara District Attorney's office to determine if the shooting was found legally justified.


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