Buellton Barricaded Suspect

A 53-year-old man engaged law enforcement in a seven-hour standoff that started late Tuesday and ended just before 6 a.m. Wednesday at a home in the 500 block of Farmland Drive in Buellton.

Multiple felony charges have been filed against the Buellton man who was involved in a seven-hour standoff Tuesday evening after threatening to burn down his home while his wife was inside. 

Michael Lee Johnson, 53, is charged with attempted arson, making criminal threats and possession of a firearm prohibited due to conviction. Johnson's arraignment was set for Thursday, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office, but no pleas were entered. His arraignment was continued to Friday morning. 

According to county sheriff's spokesperson Kelly Hoover, the suspect remains hospitalized. 

At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies responded to a possible domestic incident in the 500 block of Farmland Drive, where Johnson allegedly threatened to burn down the residence while his wife was still inside. Johnson was believed to be on active county probation for a prior violent crime, and had access to multiple firearms in the residence, according to the county Sheriff's Office. 

Johnson's wife and family pet were located and safely ushered out of the residence, but officials said the suspect refused to give in to deputies who gave him verbal commands to come outside. Johnson was reportedly armed with a knife inside the residence as the standoff ensued. 

As deputies continued to negotiate with Johnson, it became apparent that he had turned on the gas from inside the residence, filling up the house with natural gas. 

Several surrounding homes were evacuated, and an emergency alert was sent out to neighbors in the immediate area advising them to shelter in place, after a natural gas smell began wafting from the home. To ensure public safety, utility services to the home were disconnected. 

Deputies continued to try and resolve the situation peacefully but Johnson had barricaded himself inside his home and would not respond. Finally, at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday officials used distractionary devices in an effort to get a response and further communicate with him, which also failed, according to the Sheriff's Office.

At about 5:30 a.m. with no response from Johnson, deputies deployed tear gas into the home. Finally, about half an hour later, Johnson came outside and surrendered. Deputies were able to detain him and discovered that he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He was transported to the hospital to receive treatment for his injuries. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


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