Man wields stolen crucifixes in rampage through downtown Ventura, police say


A man went on a rampage across Ventura’s Main Street using perhaps the most unlikely of weapons Thursday, after police say he allegedly broke into the gift shop of a historic Spanish mission and attacked pedestrians with stolen crucifixes.

Calls began flooding into the dispatch center about 6 a.m., with reports of “a person out of control” in the 200 block of East Main Street downtown, police said.

Witnesses said the man, later identified as 35-year-old Forrest Brantley, broke into the San Buenaventura Mission, founded in 1782, stole two crucifixes and headed outside.


He then allegedly tried to rob someone of their cell phone in the mission parking lot but was denied, thwacked the person with a crucifix and headed east.

Two more people who came across Brantley were also attacked, police said.

Then Brantley spotted a 75-year-old man sitting in his vehicle, smashed open the window and hit the man in the face so hard he had to be hospitalized, police said.

But his tear across downtown wasn’t finished, authorities said: Brantley allegedly shattered the window of a thrift shop and stole a bicycle, then rode east to the next block.

By this time he had gathered a following of witnesses who were calling police. He hit yet another person with a crucifix and was arrested about four blocks later when he reached Chestnut Street, police said.

Brantley was booked on suspicion of three counts of attempted robbery, two counts each of commercial burglary and vandalism, and one count each of assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.

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