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To Meet a Madman

He Acted Batshit Crazy, but Nothing Could Be Done


Several years ago I moved out to Maui to work for the summer. Things turned out amazing, and I became a manager for T S Restaurants at Leilani’s on the Beach (they also run Duke’s, Hula Grill, Jake’s Del Mar, etc.) Then things got complicated.

On my day off, out drinking with a girl on a North Shore bay, ironically called Slaughterhouse, by Honolua Bay, we saw a guy caught in a riptide. No help around, so there was no choice. Out I went and almost lost my life in the process, and we both made it back safe, though barely. I do recall thinking that if I have to go, at least it’s doing the right thing. Ended up being called a Hero and eventually got nominated for the Andrew Carnegie Hero Medal, which was cool, but also embarrassed me in a small town.

Our police departments also had no choice. Right now we should talk about heroes and the part they played. Both the S.B. Sheriff’s Office and UCSB Police Department ran out into harm’s way to put a quick end to the shooting spree in Isla Vista.

Not glamorous, but my first job here in Santa Barbara was as a food and beverage manager at SBCC in the cafeteria. Paid the bills; that’s what matters. Part of my job was discouraging shoplifters, and we averaged catching a couple a week.

My face to face with Elliot came about three weeks ago. While records state he withdrew from classes early this semester, I guess he still decided to come by and hang out. He went out the front door with a 20-ounce Red Bull, so naturally I went out to see why he didn’t pay. All our shoplifters’ responses are simple: I forgot, sorry, or I’ll pay now. Standard procedure is we call security, they get a slap on the wrist, and we keep an eye on them.

Elliot’s response when I asked if he paid was “That’s personal.” I was caught off guard because that was so far out of left field. I asked again, and he stormed off. I was in the middle of calling security, when he approached our cashiers and verified that he did indeed pay for it. My thought was, “What the hell, man, why didn’t you just tell us?” I apologized, and he stormed off. Two or three minutes later he came back to demand my name, which I gave, then he stormed off again.

His behavior raised all the red flags, and I even talked to one of our security guys the next day. But the fact is even though he acted completely “batshit” crazy, there wasn’t much we could do. He paid for his items then left.

While we all need to place blame somewhere, I’m at a loss. I just hope this doesn’t haunt me the rest of my life, but it probably will.

Best guess, I call for a $2.5 million increase in security for California’s 80-plus colleges and city colleges to at least monitor students who have access to weapons. Surprisingly simple — but at least it’s something. (Hawaii and Arizona both follow our lead, and it goes from there.)

As for heroes, our deputies did the right thing, at the right time, at the right place. We need to give our thanks.

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