Police shoot and kill bystander while firing at suspect in Santa Barbara County

A map showing the location of Guadalupe, Calif., near Santa Maria.
(Los Angeles Times)

A police officer in Guadalupe, Calif., shot and killed a bystander while firing at a suspect over the weekend, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office officials said.

The shooting happened around 9:40 p.m. Saturday in the small town of Guadalupe, 10 miles east of Santa Maria, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Sunday.

Officers with the Guadalupe Police Department responded to Birch and Obispo streets after a suspect wanted on an outstanding felony warrant was spotted, authorities said. A bystander — 59-year-old Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado — was sitting in his car when police began firing at the suspect. It was not immediately clear what prompted police to open fire.


Olvera-Preciado was struck and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

“At this early stage of the investigation, the details that are available for release are that an officer fired his service weapon at the wanted suspect, but instead struck an uninvolved resident who was sitting in a vehicle in the 100 block of Obispo Street,” the statement read.

The suspect, who has not been identified, was later arrested and is being investigated by the California Department of Justice, according to sheriff’s officials.

In a statement Monday, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office announced an independent investigation and review of the shooting were underway, in accordance with AB 1506, which requires state prosecutors to investigate police shootings that result in the death of an unarmed civilian.

“Alongside local authorities, the California Department of Justice is investigating the incident,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said. “Once the investigation has been completed, it will be turned over to the California Department of Justice’s Special Prosecutions Section within the Criminal Law Division for independent review.”

Guadalupe Police Chief Michael Cash met with Olvera-Preciado’s family, the police statement said.