SAFFORD — A man who reportedly threw a bicycle during a heated argument over an EBT card ended up at Mount Graham Regional Medical Center with a head wound from a machete blow.
According to Safford Police reports, the victim and his attacker agreed on that much. Other parts of the case, including the reputed involvement of a third subject, were less clear.
On Thursday evening, Nov. 8, a Safford officer contacted the victim, who reportedly suffered a cut to the head several inches long, in the emergency room. The victim reportedly said he lent his EBT card to a man named Paul or Ray, who refused to return it. The man was later identified as Paul Lopez, 30.
In the dispute that followed, the victim reportedly added, he threw a bicycle at “Paul or Ray” and a third man carrying a pipe, whose name he gave police, then tried to run. He claimed the two caught up to him and he was struggling with the third subject when “Paul or Ray” struck him with a machete. The victim’s statement led police to the 400 block of 9th Street, near Lopez’s residence.
Arriving at the reported crime scene, officers contacted the alleged second assailant. He reportedly said he had just returned home when he saw Lopez and the victim outside his apartment, and witnessed the victim throw a bicycle at Lopez. He told police that, arming himself with a pipe, he told both men to move away. Lopez then allegedly chased the victim down an alley, and the third man went into his apartment.
According to the man’s statement, the victim returned later and was acting aggressively. The man escorted the victim out of the alley, adding that was his only involvement in the incident.
The reputed second attacker reportedly said he saw no one other than Lopez and the victim, nor did he see Lopez with a machete. He also reportedly said he did not see the victim’s head wound, or any blood, when the victim returned.
When interviewed by police, Lopez allegedly confirmed much of the victim’s account, adding that the victim became aggressive and threatening over the EBT card. It was then he reportedly threw the bicycle, hitting Lopez on the side and back.
After being told to leave by the third man several times, according to Lopez, the victim started to run. Lopez said he gave chase to drive him away, but the victim came back at him.
According to Lopez, there was a struggle between the victim and one of Lopez’s friends, in which the victim was taken to the ground and held down. It was at that point, Lopez allegedly said, that he struck the victim in the head with the machete. Lopez then went home, according to his statement; the victim, he said, followed him back, continuing to threaten him.
Based on Lopez’s alleged admission of chasing the victim and striking him as he was on the ground, as well as his failure to defuse the incident by offering to return the man’s EBT card, he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and booked into jail.