press release - 06131701

Buellton Barricaded Subject


Buellton Barricaded Subject

Barricaded Buellton Man Who Threatened to Burn Down Home Arrested After Seven Hour Ordeal


Buellton - June 13th, 2017


At approximately 11:00 p.m. last night, June 12, 2017, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a possible domestic disturbance in the 500 block of Farmland Dr. in the City of Buellton. The suspect, later identified as 53-year-old Michael Lee Johnson of Buellton, reportedly threatened to set the family home on fire with his wife in it. It was also ascertained that the suspect was on active county probation for a crime of violence and was believed to have access to multiple firearms in the residence.


Deputies responded to the residence and helped relocate the spouse and family pet to a safe location Johnson refused verbal commands from Sheriff’s Deputies and appeared to be armed with a knife inside the residence. When establishing containment of the exterior of the residence, deputies smelled the odor of natural gas to be present.  Several adjacent residences were evacuated and an emergency notification was sent to neighbors in the immediate area advising them to shelter in place.


Law enforcement from across the county responded to assist, including the California Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies from neighboring stations, as well as County Fire and AMR. The Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team (S.E.T.) and Hostage Negotiation Team (H.N.T.) were also notified and dispatched to the scene. As deputies continued working to establish communications with Johnson, it became apparent that he had turned on the gas from inside the residence and the house was full of natural gas.  The Special Enforcement Team took action to mitigate the public safety risk by disconnecting utility services from the house.  


Sheriff’s deputies spent the next several hours attempting to contact the barricaded suspect and resolve the situation peacefully.  At approximately 4:30 a.m., they used distractionary devices in an effort to get Johnson to respond and communicate with the deputies.  When there still was no response, at approximately 5:30 a.m. tear gas was deployed inside the residence. About 30 minutes later, just before 6 a.m., Johnson came out of the residence and surrendered.  Deputies detained him and determined he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. First Aid was immediately provided until American Medical Response Paramedics who were staged in the area took over treatment and transported him to the hospital. 


The Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center alerted neighbors that the shelter in place advisory had been lifted.


A search warrant was served at his residence and several firearms and other weapons were seized.


Johnson will be booked in absentia at the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of making criminal threats and attempted arson. His bail is set at $75,000.


The City of Buellton contracts with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.



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