On July 21, 2020, Jaime Soto Hernandez allegedly entered a Santa Barbara restaurant in possession of an “AK-47-type assault rifle.” Bystanders called 911 “frantic” as they watched Hernandez aim the gun directly at a woman and pull the trigger. The firearm malfunctioned, the suspect believed to be Hernandez fled, and, nearly three years later, was taken into custody by Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies.
MCSO’s Captain Greg Van Patten told us Santa Barbara Police had reached out to his agency with information that Hernandez had been seen in Ukiah. Yesterday, deputies made contact and took him into custody. After eluding law enforcement for years, he now sits behind bars at the Mendocino County Jail and his bail is set at $1 million.
The booking log entry documenting Hernandez’s arrest describes the charges he was booked for as “attempted murder of a peace officer”. We asked Captain Van Patten about the discrepancy between his alleged actions at the restaurant and the charges described in the booking log. He suggested the conflict could be the result of a “general jail booking entry table that isn’t super specific.”
A press release from Santa Barbara Police Department describes Hernandez’s actions at the restaurant as a form of “domestic assault violence.” Surveillance footage showed he and the woman “exchanged words at a restaurant table” before he brandished the assault rifle and attempted to fire it.
Surveillance photos released by the Santa Barbara Police show Soto walking in the restaurant’s parking lot and patio holding the assault rifle in plain sight.
Multiple agencies swarmed the scene but he was long gone. Investigators did recover a firearm magazine containing twenty-four 7.62mm rounds believed to be paired with the assault rifle he is believed to have carried. The GMC truck he allegedly used to flee the scene was found in Los Angeles later that evening.
Remember, any charges associated with this incident have not been proven in a court of law and the details of the incident are still being sorted out. In accordance with the legal principle of the presumption of innocence, any individual described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty..