Man suspected of bringing propane tank to The Spoke

The suspect, who was recently fired from the Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, is now in police custody 

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff / Daily Collegian

By Ella Adams and Sophia Gardner

On Friday at 10:35 a.m., Amherst police officers responded to a report that a small propane tank was placed outside of the door of The Spoke. The suspect was identified by a witness. He is also a former employee of of Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, and the owner says he smashed some of the windows of the establishment on Nov. 21.

Around 2 p.m., The Spoke posted a statement regarding the incident on their Instagram. 

“To squash any rumors, this person had been an ongoing problem in our establishment and other businesses in Amherst so we took it upon ourselves to not allow him in anymore for the safety of our customers,” read the post. “In return, this person did not like our decision and retaliated with threats.” 

After police arrived on the scene, they found the suspect a short distance away, according to a statement from Amherst Police. He was taken into custody and arraigned at the Eastern Hampshire District Court, and he will be held at the Hampshire County House of Correction until his next court date on Dec. 14. 

Federico Mendiola, the owner of Garcia’s, says the man is a former employee who he has had incidents with in the past. 

He came in to ask for a job when the restaurant was first opening. Garcia’s gave him an opportunity to work, but after a couple of days of training realized that he was not a fit for the establishment. After the second day, on Nov. 21, management “decided to cut ties with him.” 

Around 8:30 p.m. that night, the suspect came back through the back door and after an exchange with staff, knocked the cell phone out of the owner’s hand and broke a planter. The Amherst Police Department was called and charged him with a misdemeanor. 

Later that night, around 10:15 p.m., according to Mendiola, the individual showed up outside of the establishment with an axe and smashed some of the Restaurant’s windows and glass doors, causing an estimated $6,500 in damage.

“I truly hope that the Amherst Police Department has a better plan to protect the community from cases like this or from this case, because there have been numerous instances where this guy obviously needs to get some help,” Mendiola told the Collegian. 

APD said that the man is not “an immediate danger to the public.” 

APD could not confirm the events at Garcia’s at the time of publication. 

The Spoke declined to comment on the situation.

Ella Adams can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ella_adams15. Sophia Gardner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @sophieegardnerr.