Law enforcement and child protection teams from Santa Barbara County worked last week to find three young children believed to be in danger. Their search took them from Guadalupe to Santa Maria to Bakersfield, where they arrested the children’s father.
Santa Barbara County Child Welfare Services asked the county’s Compliance Response Team for help in separating the children from their father, 26-year-old Angel Lopez. The sheriff’s office says Lopez is a Los Angeles-based gang member who lives in Guadalupe and was recently accused of violently attacking the kids’ mother in front of them. Lopez was also on Post Release Community Supervision for car theft and was wanted on a felony no-bail warrant at the time authorities set out to find him.
On Tuesday, April 10, CRT – a team of sheriff’s deputies and probation officers – began actively searching for Lopez, his children and their mother throughout Guadalupe and Santa Maria before their investigation revealed Lopez skipped town, possibly with the mother of his children helping him avoid arrest.
CWS said, based on the recent alleged attack and Lopez’s history of domestic violence and drug abuse, his two-year-old, one-year-old and one-month-old children "needed to be taken into protective custody."
On Wednesday, April 12, CRT tracked Lopez to Bakersfield, where sheriff’s officials say he was in hiding on the 400 block of Quincy St. Lopez reportedly refused to cooperate and threatened to shoot at law enforcement if they tried to take his children away from him.
Early the next morning, CRT helped arrest Lopez after he came out of a home. His three children and their mother were found nearby. The children were taken into protective custody and back to Santa Barbara County. They are now in emergency foster care. The mother was "provided with CWS contact to facilitate future reunification with her family," according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
Lopez was arrested on his warrant and for threatening an officer. He was taken back across the county line and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.