A man suspected in two San Luis Obispo County shootings was arrested in a residential neighborhood on Thursday afternoon, amid a massive law enforcement response that involved multiple agencies and lasted into the evening.
It started around 1 p.m., when the Grover Beach Police Department was called to the scene of a reported shooting at the 7-11 on Fourth Street and Grand Avenue.
According to Grover Beach Cmdr. Jim Munro, a 7-11 employee was found shot at the convenience store.
The victim — who has not been identified by police — was alert and responsive before being transported to a local hospital for treatment, Munro said.
Nancy Cameron said she was doing laundry in the laundromat next to 7-11 when she heard what sounded like a gunshot. She rushed to the convenience store and saw the shooting victim fall after a second shot rang out.
She applied pressure to a bullet wound on the person’s neck, and Cameron said the person was coherent and talking as they waited for emergency personnel to get there.
“It was scary,” Cameron said of the ordeal. “All of sudden it happened. I never saw the guy. I just heard the ‘pop-pops.’”
Second shooting reported at SLO fast food restaurant
Meanwhile, police said the shooting suspect, described as a white male with a light brown beard driving a black Ford Mustang with a racing stripe, fled the area before officers arrived — kickstarting a manhunt that would span part of southern San Luis Obispo County.
This is the suspect in the #Shooting at 4th St & Grand Ave 7-11 Store. He fled the area in a black Ford Mustang CA license # 6EZE426 He is armed with a handgun. Last seen in Nipomo. If you see him call 911 If you can identify him call GBPD at (805) 473-4511 pic.twitter.com/ZRhJMUQNMo
— Grover Beach Police (@Grover_BeachPD) August 17, 2023
The man was believed to be armed with a handgun and considered dangerous, police said.
At 3:27 p.m., another shooting was reported — this time at the Panda Express parking lot in the 1500 block of Froom Ranch Way in San Luis Obispo.
In a news release Thursday night, the San Luis Obispo Police Department said witnesses observed a man shooting at a vehicle that was driving away.
A passenger in the vehicle was struck by a bullet and injured in the process and transported themselves to a nearby hospital, police said.
The suspect in that incident was believed to be the same person suspected in the Grover Beach shooting, according to the release.
Suspect in SLO County shootings arrested in SLO neighborhood
Then, at approximately 4:20 p.m., police received a tip from a resident that the suspect vehicle from the Grover Beach shooting had been spotted in the 1900 block of San Luis Ranch Road, according to the release.
Officers and deputies from the San Luis Obispo Police Department, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, California State Parks, California Fish and Wildlife and California Highway Patrol responded and located the suspect vehicle.
After a brief search, the suspect was located nearby and surrendered, police said.
He was identified as Joshua Arnold, 41, of Visalia.
Arnold was seen being escorted away from a home on Legacy Lane near San Luis Ranch Road in handcuffs.
Police officers in body armor responded to the scene, along with an armored vehicle.
A black Ford Mustang matching police’s description could also be seen parked on the street where the arrest occurred. Soon after the man was taken into custody, police were observed breaking the window on the vehicle as its alarm sounded.
Law enforcement presence stretches into the night
After the arrest, the Police Department cautioned the scene was “still active” and urged the public to stay away from the area.
Armored cars remained, and numerous law enforcement agencies continued to assemble at the scene.
According to the release, when Arnold was arrested, he was not carrying a weapon, but police were advised that two other people were inside the residence and possibly armed.
The San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT team responded and worked to secure the area and determine whether there were armed individuals inside the residence.
Around 5:55 p.m., a shelter-in-place order was issued for residents in the blocks surrounding the San Luis Ranch neighborhood.
Just after 6 p.m., law enforcement could be heard using a bullhorn to say “come out with your hands up” in front of a home in the area.
“We have you surrounded. Please come out with your hands up,” police continued to say in both English and Spanish as a helicopter circled overhead.
When reached for comment Thursday evening, San Luis Obispo city communications manager Whitney Szentesi said police were “in the process of confirming whether or not there are additional suspects” involved in the shootings.
Ultimately, the home was found to be empty.
A handgun was later recovered at a nearby model home that the suspect had reportedly entered prior to being captured by police, according to the release.
At 8:15 p.m., the shelter-in-place order for residents in the area of San Luis Ranch was lifted and police cleared the scene, the San Luis Obispo Police Department tweeted.
Arnold was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, attempted carjacking, felon in possession of a handgun and felon in possession of ammunition, according to the release.
“The Police Department is very grateful for the support of our partner agencies and community members whose efforts greatly assisted in the swift apprehension of this very dangerous criminal and justice for two innocent victims,” the Police Department said.
The shelter in place is now lifted and SLOPD is clearing the scene. A suspect of the shootings today in SLO and Grover Beach is in custody. No other suspects are in the residence on San Luis Ranch Rd. We appreciate the community's patience. More info will be made available soon.
— San Luis Obispo Police Department (@SLOCityPolice) August 18, 2023