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

John Speier is also accused of causing damage days earlier at his apartment complex in Aurora.

AURORA, Colo. — A man who at one point was armed with a hatchet inside an Aurora Target store prompted an evacuation of that store, according to a spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department (APD).

The man, identified as John Speier, 38, is accused of harassing employees and shoplifting from the store located at 15700 E Briarwood Circle, off Parker and Arapahoe Roads on April 14, APD said.

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According to the 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 around 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 were eventually able to locate Speier in a backroom. In that room, the officer saw scattered clothes from racks on the ground, the affidavit says.

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

One responding 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.

Credit: KUSA

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.

On Tuesday, APD officers responded to the Costco at 1471 S. Havana St. around 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, although no gun was seen, the document says. 

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

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, according to the affidavit, 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 and driver-side rear window and the 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.

Credit: APD
John Speier

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.

Court records show he faces a charge of criminal mischief for damage between $5 and $20,000.

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