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Man who was arrested in Aurora Target vandalism pleads guilty

John Speier was also accused of causing damage at an Aurora apartment complex.

AURORA, Colo. — A man charged in two vandalism cases in Aurora, including one in which he was accused of wielding a hatchet inside a Target store, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of criminal mischief.

John Speier was accused of harassing employees and shoplifting from the store at 15700 E Briarwood Circle, off Parker and Arapahoe Roads, on April 14, according to the Aurora Police Department (APD).

He was also arrested for vandalism that occurred April 8 at the Apres Apartments on South Galena Way.

RELATED: Man ran through Target store with hatchet, vandalized stock room, affidavit says

Court records show the cases were combined, and on Monday, Speier pleaded guilty to a single felony count of criminal mischief and was granted a deferred sentence. That means if he completes the terms of his probation, he'll avoid jail time.

Otherwise, he'll serve a sentence of 24 months in jail, according to the court records.

According to an affidavit, the store manager suspected Speier of shoplifting and asked him to leave, but he refused and instead began a "rampage" in the store, damaging items and running around with a hatchet. His actions scared customers and employees, and the store was evacuated, the affidavit says.

Officers with APD responded there about 7:10 p.m. and were told that Speier kept entering "employees only" areas of the store. When officers arrived, the store was empty, and they eventually found Speier in a backroom. In that room, the officer saw scattered clothes from racks on the ground, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Police looking for suspect after shooting victim's death

Speier was on top of a rack and the path to where he was "contained damage everywhere," the affidavit says. There was also liquid on the floor and items with puncture marks. At one point, the affidavit says, Speier threw items toward officers.

One officer reported that he had to move items out of his path to reach the area where Speier was. Speier eventually complied with commands and was taken into custody.

No one was hurt, APD said.

APD said Speier caused more than $5,000 worth of damage to the store before he was taken into custody. He was arrested on charges of criminal mischief.

A couple days before, on April 12, APD officers responded to the Costco at 1471 S. Havana St. about 2 p.m. for a suspicious incident. It was reported that a man had thrown a bottle at someone. It was also reported that the man went into the store and "acted strange," according to an affidavit. Someone heard the man say he had a gun, though no gun was seen, the document says. 

That person was identified as Speier, according to the affidavit. As police investigated that incident, they found a report about prior incidents also involving Speier, the document says.

On April 8, APD officers responded to a welfare check at the Apres Apartments on South Galena Way just before 7 a.m. for a report of a person throwing items from his balcony onto vehicles in the parking lot, the affidavit says.

The next day, Speier damaged a 2013 black Audi parked in the lot. The registered owner reported that the car had "major dents" and a broken rear window, driver-side rear window and windshield, according to the affidavit.

There was a 30-pound weight on the windshield and a 4x4 piece of wood on it, the document says.

APD contacted a witness who identified Speier as the person who caused the damage to the vehicle, according to the affidavit. He was later arrested at a nearby Red Robin restaurant, the document says.

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