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A Santa Barbara Van Fire May Have Been Part of a Death Wish

Published On: Jan 13 2014 07:53:30 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 13 2014 08:53:13 PM CST

A man accused of stabbing his brother, stealing a vehicle and crashing it through a fence on Old Coast Highway, has new charges after setting his own vehicle on fire over the weekend.


A Santa Barbara man has been arrested on serious felony charges for the second time in a week - including his alleged role in an explosive van fire Sunday.

Robert Beltran was caught by police two blocks from the van fire on Quarantine and Gutierrez Streets Sunday after a pursuit.    Officers say along the way Beltran appeared to be reaching for a weapon.   He was caught and cuffed, on the basketball court at Ortega Park.  A kitchen knife was found in his waistband.

Black smoke from the van fire could be seen for miles.

Fire crews used water and foam to suffocate the flames while police pursued Beltran.

A week ago Beltran was arrested after allegedly knifing a relative, stealing a vehicle, crashing through a fence on Old Coast Highway and running from the scene.

He was jailed with bail set at $90,000,  but after posting the bail, he was back on the streets and apparently did not want a relative to get his vehicle.

"He was concerned that person would get custody of his vehicle," said Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Riley Harwood. "He did not want that to happen, so he set it on fire. Likewise because he didn't want to go back to prison,  he wanted the police to kill him."

Beltran was injured during the ordeal, but police say he was not cooperative at the hospital.

He is back in jail.   Bail is now set at $500,000.



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