091421 SpaceX Falcon 9

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Monday night, carrying a total of 51 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit. 


Santa Maria man arrested after screwdriver brandished during liquor store robbery 

A Santa Maria man was arrested Monday after allegedly robbing an Orcutt liquor store while armed with a screwdriver and causing a nearby elementary school to lock down. 

The incident was reported shortly before 4 p.m., when Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a theft that had occurred at Far Western Liquor Store in the 3500 block of Orcutt Road, according to spokeswoman Raquel Zick. 

As they responded to the scene, deputies received information that the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Manuel Gauna, was possibly armed with a screwdriver, which he allegedly brandished during the theft and that he was last seen entering the nearby campus of Joe Nightingale Elementary School.

When deputies arrived on scene, they requested that the school lock down and the students remain on campus while they searched for Gauna, according to Zick. 

Gauna was located near Glenwood and Lancaster drives about 10 minutes later and taken into custody without further incident. After his arrest, deputies located a screwdriver and the stolen items in his possession, according to Zick. 

Gauna was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of robbery and an outstanding felony warrant for a probation violation. His bail was set at $100,000.


Operator using propane torch sparks Caballo fire near Los Olivos 

A vegetation fire that erupted and scorched nearly 70 acres north of Los Olivos last week was caused by an open propane flame during an unpermitted burn operation, according to Santa Barbara County Fire Department officials. 

The Caballo fire, which broke out on Sept. 6, escaped control of an operator who was using a propane torch to eradicate weeds near Avenida Caballo and Caballo Lane approximately three and a half miles northeast of Los Olivos, according to Capt. Daniel Bertucelli, County Fire spokesman. It was not immediately clear if the operator was cited as a result of the fire. 

The fire, which was reported shortly after 2 p.m., led to the evacuation of several nearby homes and damaged one barn on Avenida Caballo. No injuries were reported. 

Several hand crews, bulldozer and water tender operators and 16 engines responded, along with four fixed-wing air tankers and three helicopters, according to fire officials. About 200 personnel helped in the effort.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes Monday evening and the fire was fully contained by Wednesday, according to officials. 

A fire permit is required for anyone operating a torch or an open flame in a wildfire risk area, although the County Fire Department does not recommend torches or open flames, according to Bertucelli. 

Anyone with questions regarding how to obtain a permit can contact inspection.services@sbcfire.com or 805-686-5077. Anyone with additional information regarding the fire can contact fire investigators at fireinfo@sbcfire.com.


SpaceX Falcon 9 launch carries 51 Starlink internet satellites to orbit

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 8:55 p.m. Monday, successfully deploying 51 Starlink internet satellites into Earth's orbit, SpaceX confirmed.

The new satellite technology seeks to improve network and broadband signal interface for internet users around the world.

The mission marks the reusable, two-stage Falcon 9 booster's 10th trip to space and back after it reentered Earth's atmosphere on Monday night just minutes after blastoff from Space Launch Complex 4E.

The booster touched down on one of SpaceX’s rocket landing platforms named “Of Course I Still Love You,” located a few hundred miles downrange in the Pacific Ocean, according to SpaceX.

Monday's successful launch clears the way for SpaceX's next Falcon 9 rocket launch, slated for Wednesday night from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, for the world’s first all-civilian human spaceflight to orbit.


Man charged with attempted murder in shooting that injured 2

A 20-year-old Lompoc man was charged with attempted murder Tuesday in connection to a gang-related shooting that injured two men on North M Street Saturday evening. 

The shooting was reported at about 9:30 p.m. in the 500 block of North M Street, according to Lompoc Police Sgt. Vincent Magallon. 

Upon arrival, officers located a 35-year-old male with a single gunshot wound, who was said to be in critical condition Saturday, and a 31-year-old male who also sustained a nonlife-threatening gunshot wound, according to Magallon.

Police did not identify the two victims although one of them, Joseph Maldonado, was identified in a criminal complaint filed Sept. 14.

Police arrested Rafael Vivanco, who was located a few blocks from the scene and was taken into custody after a short foot pursuit, according to Magallon, adding a firearm was found in his possession.

Vivanco was charged with two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and four special allegations that include street terrorism, personal use of a firearm, personal and intentional use of a firearm causing great bodily injur, and a prior strike offense. 

He appeared Tuesday at Superior Court in Santa Maria but did not enter a plea, according to Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Alexander Harrison, who is prosecuting the case. 

Harrison added that Vivanco was charged with street terrorism because it refers to gang activity. A criminal complaint filed Sept. 14 shows Vivanco is a member of Lompoc's Southside F Street gang. 

Vivanco is scheduled to appear for an arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 21 in Superior Court. 


County clinic to vaccinate unsheltered today

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is making an effort to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to unsheltered individuals through a free walk-in clinic from 3 to 7 p.m. today at Good Samaritan Emergency Shelter in Santa Maria.

Van Do-Reynoso, department director, said both the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as the influenza vaccine, will be offered at the shelter at 401 W. Morrison Ave.

As an incentive, everyone who receives the vaccine at the clinic will receive a $25 Visa gift card and will be entered into a drawing for a bicycle, Do-Reynoso said.

Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley is providing the incentives, she said.

Those who need a ride to the vaccination clinic can call 805-680-7962 for information.


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