SPANISH FORK — Spanish Fork police arrested a man last week who they say has been using a wrist rocket to blow out windows at local businesses.
The Spanish Fork man is the latest to be arrested in connection with a series of window blasts that has plagued Spanish Fork businesses and government offices since April, said Police Chief Dee Rosenbaum.
The arrest came after a long investigation and ongoing surveillance ended last month when a detective observed another man shoot out a window of the Mi Rancherito Restaurant on Main. That man, a 41-year-old from Spanish Fork, was in a car with a 29-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman.
The restaurant had replaced seven windows before the detective arrested the first man, said Liz Solorzano, an employee at Mi Rancherito.
"It was like a game, but they didn't have a pattern," Solorzano said. "We were just going to let them shoot out all the windows so we could board them up until they caught them."
Due to a lack of evidence, the police were only able to arrest the 41-year-old male following the surveillance effort. Since that time, detectives said they have been able to obtain enough additional information to connect the 29-year-old man to the crimes.
Detectives began investigating after numerous windows at a number of businesses were blown out during the months of April, May and June. Additional damage included slashed tires, nails thrown in driveways and graffiti — resulting in damage totalling $20,000.
Kevin Dunn, owner of Big O Tires in Spanish Fork, said his windows were hit on four separate occasions.
"After the second time, I didn't even care about the money, I just didn't want to put one in and have another shot out," Dunn said. "I can't understand the motive — that's probably the most baffling part of the whole thing."
Dunn said police found steel pellets larger than the size of normal BB pellets near a flower bed outside his windows.
Along with the Mi Rancherito Restaurant and Big O Tires businesses, windows were also shot out at Boothe Bros. Music, Trails End Cafe and the State Liquor Store, Rosenbaum said.
At least one shooting at both Mi Rancherito and Boothe Bros. Music happened during business hours, employees said. Customers were still eating at Mi Rancherito when one window was blown out.
"That kind of lowered our business," Solorzano said. "Whenever (the windows) were boarded up, people thought we were closed."
Windows at the Spanish Fork Police Station, fire station and city offices were also damaged in the wrist rocket shootings, Rosenbaum said.
Scott Huff, 29, Spanish Fork, was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of 38 instances of criminal mischief, three instances of making a threat against life or property and one instance of stalking. The threats and stalking allegations refer to statements and actions police said were made against the investigating officer.
Police said the 24-year-old woman also is being investigated for alleged criminal mischief.
Contributing: Laura Sanderson.