In five weeks, there have been seven arrests involving UC Santa Cruz students, including weapons felony charges, three guns confiscated along with knives, clubs and stun guns, and numerous drug-related arrests. Since 4/20, there have been three non-fatal drug overdoses at UCSC.
“That’s a lot for this campus and for the area,” said UCSC Police Department Chief Nader Oweis. “If you read some of the recent arrests throughout the county there seems to be a pattern of dangerous weapons including firearms, batons, et cetera.”
According to the Santa Cruz City Police Department 2015 end-of-the-year statistics, there was a 7 percent increase in crime citywide and a 6.6 percent increase in drug abuse violations in that year.
“Nationally, there is a huge public health issue around heroin and opiate drugs,” Oweis said. “I don’t know that we are seeing some of the [same] violence related issues throughout the nation, but in Santa Cruz we are starting to see more people with firearms or other types of weapons around that are associated with drugs.”
On 4/20 there were three felony arrests. One felony was a weapons charge for having a knife and a club, and the other two were charges of possession of a loaded .45 caliber handgun, possession of a high capacity magazine holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and transporting and selling marijuana.
These are the most recent incidents of recorded drug-related violence on and around UCSC. These three cases happened within less than a week of each other and resulted in the arrest of three UCSC students.
While responding to an LSD overdose at Porter College on May 11, officers were told by another student that Porter College resident Peter Brody, 22, had allegedly threatened the student with a firearm. Brody was arrested at the home of fellow UCSC student John McVeigh on May 12 in Walnut Creek. Brody was booked into the Santa Cruz County Jail on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats, possession of a firearm at a university and misdemeanor charges of brandishing a firearm, possession of ammunition and obstruction of evidence.
McVeigh, a 24-year-old Porter College student, was subsequently arrested for aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime and destroying and concealing evidence, both misdemeanors.
“Because of the types of charges that these two [misdemeanors] are, he is also charged with all of the charges that Brody was charged with,” Oweis said.
A search warrant for McVeigh’s on-campus residence resulted in evidence of drug sales. He has also been charged with possession of LSD for sale and possession of prescription drugs without a prescription, both felonies in addition to two misdemeanors. Both students were released on $25,000 bails.
On May 16 at 7:15 a.m., UCSC PD and Santa Cruz PD responded to a 911 call at Family Student Housing. The suspect, Royal Oaks resident Jovany Becerril, 24, had left the area in a vehicle, and officers were able to locate and stop the vehicle at Bay and Mission, where they found that Becerril was on parole and had a short-barreled rifle and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.
He was arrested and booked on five felony charges for possession of a firearm on university property, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a violent offense and possession of a short-barreled rifle. He was also booked with a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in the Santa Cruz County jail on a $25,000 bail. As of May 26 he is still in custody.
On May 17 at 10:23 a.m., UCSC undergraduate student Landon Zou, 24, was taken into custody after UCSC PD responded and determined Zou was under the influence of heroin and had just used the substance in his vehicle prior to being contacted.
“One of our parking officers who was doing parking enforcement [in the core west parking structure] observed Landon slumped over the steering wheel,” Oweis said. “He requested officers respond to his location and officers came and were able to contact him.”
“He immediately dropped [the substance] to the floor of the vehicle. He was then detained and as he was detained UCSC PD did a search of the vehicle based on what they had seen and they found several items.”
UCSC PD found drug paraphernalia, Xanax pills, heroin, possible methadone pills, a regular stun gun and an expandable baton stun gun.
Zou was arrested and booked on misdemeanor charges for possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a stun gun at a university and possession of a weapon (two stun guns) by an addict. He was also charged with a felony of possession of an expandable baton stun gun. He was booked into Santa Cruz County jail with a $10,000 bail. As of May 26, he is still in custody.
UCSC’s SHOP offers drug and alcohol recovery and counseling programs. These investigations are ongoing and those who have information regarding any of these cases are encouraged to contact UCSC PD at (831) 459-2231