County sheriff's deputies have increased their presence in the San Lorenzo Valley following three racially motivated incidents in recent weeks.

"They've been very responsive to our community's needs," said Robert West, owner of Verrerie Goods gallery in Boulder Creek. "There's definitely been a stronger presence in town, and as a business owner I really appreciate that."

The latest cause for concern among Boulder Creek residents came Saturday night when a deputy stopped a man who was wandering down Highway 9 in Boulder Creek shouting "I've got a bullet for you."

The suspect, who has not yet been charged, of Boulder Creek reportedly was uncooperative when questioned, and yelled racial slurs at deputy Jason Fennely. The man, who had rifle ammunition in his pocket, allegedly told the white deputy he had a rifle buried in the woods.

The suspect was taken into custody on alcohol-related charges and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail.

Earlier this month, Miles Kelly, 21, of Boulder Creek was taken into custody for using racial slurs, hitting passing cars and threatening to kill a motorist. Kelly was charged with criminal threats with a hate-crime enhancement.

That same day, another man was arrested and later charged for possessing weapons. Police say along with a loaded gun, they found a club that was marked with a swastika.

These charges come just weeks after a small group of young, white men began issuing ethnic slurs and threats to Latino workers. Witnesses reported one man was beaten up during the incident.

Sheriff's deputies began increasing patrols in Boulder Creek after the workers were threatened, said Sgt. Greg Landsdowne, who heads the Sheriff's Department's Felton Community Center.

Two deputies are assigned to patrol the San Lorenzo Valley during each shift, he said. Of those two, one is working in Boulder Creek. Coverage is expanded when extra patrol deputies are available, and when Sgt. Landsdowne has an opportunity to hit the streets himself.

"I try to go out there personally one to two nights a week," Landsdowne said. "It's a community issue and this is a priority to us right now."

Contact Terri Morgan at kalexander@santacruzsentinel.com