On April 18, an arrest in Ventura led Camarillo detectives to an apartment in the 4800 block of Sandyland Road, where they located two runaway juveniles, one of whom had a seven-month-old infant. Detectives also found drug paraphernalia used to ingest controlled substances, a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, ammunition, three unsecured and fully loaded handguns and one partially built semi-automatic handgun in areas accessible to the juveniles.
In Ventura, Camarillo police had arrested Elizabeth Figueroa, 36, of Carpinteria, on a felony warrant for being under the influence of a controlled substance with a firearm after they concluded an investigation of a runaway juvenile incident. Evidence at the Sandyland Road apartment suggested that Christopher Welch, 44, of Ojai, was living there as well, and he was subsequently arrested in Ventura on numerous charges, including felony child endangerment and possession of illegal assault rifles. Following the apartment search in Carpinteria, Ventura County Child Protective Services took custody of the runaway juveniles and the infant, and transported them back to Ventura County.
Welch was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail, and he soon posted bail and was released from custody. The Camarillo Special Enforcement Detail and the Ojai Police Department then served a search warrant at Welch’s residence in the 1800 block of Country Place in Ojai. A search of the residence revealed 28 assorted rifles, shotguns and handguns, high-capacity magazines and several silencers. Detectives confirmed several of the AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles seized fit the criteria of being considered an “assault weapon” in violation of California Penal Code. In addition, possession of a silencer is illegal in California.
The search of the residence also resulted in the seizure over 15,000 rounds of various types of ammunition. All the firearms and ammunition were seized as evidence, and on April 21, Welch was again arrested and booked into the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Welch’s bail was set at $250,000 with a pending court date.