Santa Cruz County

Busy Labor Day weekend for Santa Cruz police

Two shootings, several hit and runs, more than 1,100 911 calls

Labor Day weekend shootings and crashes in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Two shootings, several hit and runs, more than 1,100 911 calls during the Labor Day weekend kept police in Santa Cruz working.

"It's not unusual to have this many calls for service over a weekend. What's unusual is the number of cases of actual violence," said Joyce Blaschke from Santa Cruz Police Department.

Two shootings on Saturday got police moving within 45 minutes of each other. One incident was at an apartment complex on Chestnut Street, and the second occured when the victim showed up at Dominican Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Police believe both were gang related.

"Honestly, this is the first time we've even heard about it. This is a very safe neighborhood as far as we are aware. And there is a police station right over there. I've always felt completely safe," said Santa Cruz resident Greg Goodman.

But other residents recognize the challenges police are facing in keeping them safe.

"It's an interesting time for police departments everywhere. Hopefully the community can come together and figure out how we can support them and doing what we are hiring them to do," said Santa Cruz resident Kirsten Liske.

Police also responded to several hit and runs, one when a car crashed into Betty Burgers late Friday night.

"Some people say they were getting chased by another car, and when they got to Seabright, they were getting intersected. And then they just lost control and hit into our wall. And other people say they were street racing," said Betty Burgers' manager Armando Ortiz.

The 18-year-old driver was arrested and faces drunk driving and hit and run charges. The manager is grateful it wasn't worse.

"It definitely collapsed everything inside. They didn't do much damage, but fortunately, nobody was here at that time," Ortiz said.

Santa Cruz police encourages anyone with information to call their anonymous tip line at 831-420-5995 or contact the department through its smartphone app.

Here are details on four cases of note:

Betty Burgers crash. On Friday, a car crashed into the wall of Betty's Burgers at 505 Seabright Avenue. The restaurant was closed and no one was injured. Witnesses said four people ran from the car.

During their investigation, officers received a call from the car's driver, who claimed he crashed while being chased by another car, a white Dodge Charger. He said the occupants were trying to shoot him.

The driver was arrested for hit and run and driving under the influence. Gang investigators are following up on the case.

Gunshot victim. Early Saturday morning, police interviewed a gunshot victim at Dominican Hospital. The victim was uncooperative, but officers believe the shooting happened near Seabright Avenue and Hall Street. Detectives believe the shooting may be gang related and are looking into possible connections to Friday's crash at Betty's Burgers.

Drive-by shooting. Also on Saturday, police investigated a drive-by shooting at an apartment complex in the 90 block of Chestnut Street. No injuries were reported. Witnesses reported seeing a light colored sedan speed away from the scene. Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact investigators at (831) 420-5820.

Vehicle pursuit. Late Saturday night, CHP officers and Santa Clara County deputies arrested a Cupertino man, Christopher Ellebracht, 38, after a vehicle pursuit that started on Water Street in Santa Cruz and ended on Highway 17.

Ellebracht is suspected of driving erratically, flashing a bright light at another driver and intentionally running over 15 traffic signs.

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