Yuma police officers testify in accused machete wielder's trial
The jury in the trial for a machete-wielding man who allegedly chased and threatened several former co-workers heard from Yuma police officers on Friday who responded to the scene and took the suspect into custody.
Through his questioning, prosecutor James Eustace, of the Yuma County Attorney's Office, tried to paint the jury a picture of how events unfolded the day of March 9, 2010, when Vincent Arroyo Jr. allegedly committed the offenses.
Sgt. Eric Egan, who was patrolling on his motorcycle near the Yuma Palms Regional Center that day, said he decided to respond to the call at Associated Citrus after hearing radio traffic about a vehicle fleeing from law enforcement.
Egan said when he arrived on scene he saw Arroyo get out of his car and start bashing the windows of another vehicle in the same parking lot with a machete.
“I drew my weapon and began yelling at him to drop the machete, but he ignored me and went inside the building,” Egan said.
Office Ernesto Rangel, an 11-year veteran of the force, testified that it was about that time he arrived back on scene and that he and Egan went inside the building after Arroyo. Rangel explained earlier in his testimony that he had been dispatched to Associated Citrus in reference to a call reporting someone having made threats with a machete.
Rangel testified that while there, talking with plant superintendent Greg Perez, he saw Arroyo drive past the company in a red Dodge neon.
“I went out on to the street and yelled at him several times to stop, but he didn't,” Rangel said. “I also alerted other officers to (Arroyo's) presence in the area.”
Rangel testified that he then got back in his patrol car and started to go after Arroyo, who by then had turned back around and sped back past him into the company's parking lot.
Egan, during his testimony, said he and Rangel entered the building seconds after Arroyo but did not see him. He said they did not go very far inside the room they were in because they did not know if there was another way out of the building or if Arroyo was still somewhere inside waiting for them.
Several moments later Egan said he heard over the radio that Arroyo had been spotted by other officers outside the building walking through the company's fenced-in yard. At that point he said he ran out of the building he was in and got back on his motorcycle, riding it to the opposite side of the lot, which was the direction Arroyo was heading.
Once there, Egan said he went into another building, but he didn't see Arroyo anywhere inside.
Meanwhile, Rangel said he and other officers began walking along the yard outside the fence following Arroyo, eventually coming to the same building that Egan was now in.
Rangel said Arroyo went into the building through one door while he and other officers entered it through a different door on the opposite side. Moments later Arroyo exited the building back into the yard.
At that point Egan, Rangel and the other officers, moved in to arrest Arroyo. Egan said as he entered the yard again, another officer who had jumped the fence, had used an electronic stun gun on Arroyo.
“I assisted in tackling him and taking him into custody,” Egan said.
However, during cross-examination defense attorney Zach Dumyahn asked both Egan and Rangel if at any time did they witness his client get close to or chase anyone with the machete.
“No I did not,” Egan said.
“Correct,” Rangel said, “But he was looking for someone.”
Dumyahn, in continuing his questioning, also asked both of the officers if they ever saw his client raise the machete above his waist any other time than when he was using it to bash out the car windows, to which they replied they had not.
When asked by Eustace if Arroyo had said anything after he was taken into custody Rangel said that Arroyo told officers that no matter happened he would come back to finish what he had started.
Arroyo, who has been in jail since March 9, 2010, has been charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.