SAFFORD – Authorities were dispatched to Mount Graham Regional Medical Center emergency room on Thursday, November 8, 2018 at approximately 7:30 pm, in reference to a man who was being treated for a head injury caused by a machete. The man apparently had a five to six inch laceration to the back side of the crown of his head.
The officer first spoke to a family member who was there with the victim. She reported that the victim showed up at her house holding his shirt over his head. She said the man had been evasive in his responses to where it happened and who was involved.
The officer met with the victim, who was somewhat reluctant to talk about what happened. According to the police report, the man’s statements were disjointed, hard to understand and didn’t have any sequence to the events. The officer and the family member had to prompt the man to put the sequence of events in order.
The man apparently went to an associate’s house – later identified as Paul Lopez – where something took place that the victim refused to comment about. The victim then gave Lopez his EBT card with the understanding that Lopez was going to get something to eat. Later, when the man asked for his EBT card, Lopez allegedly refused to give it to him. A confrontation took place and the man said that Lopez and a second man came at him. Lopez was apparently carrying two machetes and the other man had a pipe. The victim said that he threw his bike at the two assailants and ran. He apparently fell as he was running and the two men set on him. While the victim was wrestling with other man, Lopez allegedly struck him in the head with the machete.
The victim told the officer that the events took place in an alley near Thriftee market. The man said that he had been wearing a beanie that should still be by the canal in that area. Another officer was dispatched to look for the crime scene, and the beanie was located.
Authorities also found Lopez sitting outside his apartment. The man who the victim claimed had accosted him with the pipe was at a nearby apartment. The alleged pipe-wielding man told authorities that he had not been involved in the fight. He said that he had just pulled up in front of the apartment when he saw the victim throw a bicycle at Lopez. He said that he retrieved a pipe from his house and told Lopez and the victim to move away from his apartment.
Lopez told the officers that the victim was hanging out at his apartment and Lopez asked him if he could use his EBT card to get $5.00 worth of “munchies.” After some time had passed, the victim asked Lopez whether or not he was going to get the food. Lopez responded that he was not going at that time. According to Lopez, the victim became aggressive and started yelling and threatening Lopez about getting his EBT card. According to Lopez, the victim then picked up the bicycle, motioned toward the machete Lopez was holding and said, “You going to use that knife on me?”
Lopez said that the victim then threw the bike at him, hitting him on the left side of the back. Lopez said that he chased the victim down the alley in an attempt to drive him away, but the victim allegedly kept coming after him. Lopez said that the victim tried to tackle one of Lopez’s friends, whom he referred to as “D,” but the man took the victim to the ground. According to Lopez, “D” was on top of the victim, trying to get him to stop moving when Lopez hit him in the head with the machete. Lopez said that he walked backward to his house to keep an eye on the victim. Lopez returned to his apartment and locked the door. He said the victim remained outside telling Lopez he was going to hill him.
When authorities asked Lopez if he ever attempted to give the victim back his EBT card, Lopez said that he couldn’t because of how the victim was acting. When asked if the victim had anything else in his hands after he threw the bike and ran down the alley, Lopez said that he couldn’t tell because it was dark.
Lopez admitted that he had several machetes and allowed the officers inside his apartment and showed them the machete he used in the incident. He also directed them to the EBT card that was still in the apartment.
There were three other people in the apartment. Two of them had outstanding warrants and were arrested.
Lopez was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon based on:
- Lopez’s admission that he had the victim’s EBT card and did not attempt to give the card back, which could have de-escalated the situation,
- Lopez’s admission that he chased the victim down the alley, when the victim was apparently running away from the altercation, and
- Lopez’s statement that “D” was on top of the victim trying to get him to stop moving when Lopez stuck him on the head with a potential use of deadly force.
Lopez was booked into the Graham County Jail without incident.