Masked Gunman Demands to Place Flag, Obama Sign on Overpass

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A masked gunman waving an American flag on a 101 Freeway overpass shut down the freeway for hours just west of downtown on Monday as police negotiated with him.

Authorities took the gunman into custody at about 10:30 a.m. The freeway remained closed until late Monday morning.

Crisis negotiators reached an agreement with the unidentified man in which he would give up after being allowed to attach a Barack Obama campaign sign and the flag to the overpass railing, said police Sgt. Jim Pfleging. The man was believed to be a service veteran, he said.

Police Sgt. Lorenzo Duarte said the unidentified man, wearing a ski mask and brown fatigues, was waving the flag with one hand and had a handgun in the other when officers arrived on the La Cumbre Avenue overpass just after 7:10 a.m.

No shots were fired. A police special weapons and tactics team and a crisis negotiation team used a bullhorn to communicate with the man. Nearly three hours into the siege he put the handgun on the ground but police did not immediately move in.

As for the man's motive, Duarte said, "The reason appears to be anti-war, but I don't know the specifics."

The freeway was shut down in both directions and the California Highway Patrol reported at 10 a.m. that traffic was backed up at least three miles in each direction.

The La Cumbre overpass links the exclusive Hope Ranch and La Cumbre Golf & Country Club on the south to the La Cumbre Plaza shopping mall and State Street to the northeast. Santa Barbara is 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

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