A Drone Was Used in a Stabbing in Santa Maria on Wednesday
There was a fatal stabbing in Santa Maria early Wednesday morning. According to police, a 51-year-old man was stabbed to death. The victim was pronounced dead after being transported to the Marian Regional Medical Center.
It wasn’t clear what the motive was for the incident. But the department is now investigating the stabbing. Police also arrested two men in connection with the incident. A third suspect is still being sought.
At first, the department didn’t have a clue about the suspect’s identity. However, investigators learned that the incident was a result of a verbal altercation between two male subjects. As a result, the department called in a drone to conduct a search. This is the first time in the history of the Santa Maria Police Department that a drone has been used for a crime.
The department’s drone team is comprised of two Part 107 certified drone pilots. They use DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise drones, which can be outfitted with strobe lights, loudspeakers, and a thermal version. In addition to conducting a Search and Rescue operation, the department’s drones are also used for de-escalation tactics.
According to a neighbor, she saw an altercation take place outside the house. She returned to the scene after hearing what she thought was chaos. Upon returning, she said she saw the suspect, Anthony Arguijo, bleeding from the grass. Later, the neighbor reported seeing the suspect leaning against the garage. Initially, she thought the person was a stranger, but the occupant of the garage answered the door.
When officers arrived, they found the victim with multiple stab wounds to his back. Another victim was in better condition, with only a head injury. During the investigation, the department learned that the victim was a gang member who was involved in a fight. Afterward, officers pursued the suspects into an open field.
Once the suspect was captured, authorities conducted a search of the residence. According to investigators, the search revealed evidence linking the suspect to the stabbing. One of the victims was in “extremely critical” condition, and the other was in “good” condition.
Earlier in the day, the Santa Maria Police Department led Operation Matador, a multi-agency effort to take 17 suspected members of the MS-13 gang into custody. While investigators haven’t released a detailed description of the suspects, the department says they’re hoping to learn more about their crimes.
Several homicides occurred in January, including four cases related to the MS-13 gang. In July, 17 suspected members of the gang were indicted by a Santa Barbara County criminal grand jury. Those defendants are being held at the Santa Barbara County Jail.
The department’s drone policy is intended to protect the civil rights of Santa Marians and preserve the safety of the community. Chief Martin estimates there are up to 1,000 gang members in the city. He said the gangs aren’t very sophisticated and aren’t very sophisticated about leaving their victims out in the open.
In 2015, the city of Santa Maria had 13 homicides. Of those, seven occurred within the city limits and five were related to the MS-13 gang.