Tuesday, November 04, 2008

PTSD Strikes Again

November 4, 2008

Gunman arrested after standoff on 101 Freeway

A masked gunman who was waving an American flag on a 101 Freeway overpass in Santa Barbara was taken into police custody Monday after an hours-long standoff that shut down the freeway in both directions and caused a rush-hour traffic snarl, officials said.

Edward Van Tassel, a 28-year-old Army veteran who served in Iraq, first surrendered his handgun to police, officials said. As part of the negotiation, Van Tassel asked authorities for a Barack Obama sign, which he posted on a chain-link fence on the overpass along with the flag he was holding, said Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte of the Santa Barbara Police Department.

No shots were fired. The revolver Van Tassel was holding was not loaded, Duarte said. He was arrested by SWAT officers about 11 a.m. without incident.

Van Tassel was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges including resisting or delaying arrest and wearing a mask while committing a crime.

Aaron Jacob Levy, 33, also was arrested for driving Van Tassel to the overpass and participating in the incident. Van Tassel is also believed to have been involved in an incident Friday in which a masked man with a weapon was found at a radio station.

Van Tassel served in the Army from 2003 to 2005, said Sgt. Jim Pfleging of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Officials said Van Tassel appeared to be shouting statements against the war and making comments about veterans' benefits during the standoff.

The freeway -- which had been closed from State Street on the southbound side and from Las Positas Road on the northbound side, causing gridlock throughout the area -- was reopened shortly after the incident ended.

-- Victoria Kim