A homeless man has been charged with six counts of first-degree criminal mischief after allegedly damaging five cars and two Department of Motor Vehicles office windows in Astoria this week.
Police received a report just after 6 p.m. Monday from the owner of a damaged Cadillac SRX on Hamburg Avenue near the Port of Astoria. When Officer A.J. Duryea arrived, he found the front window of the car totally shattered and a large piece of concrete resting on the substantially damaged hood, according to an affidavit.
Marco Vargas, a Bornstein Seafoods employee, was driving home from work. Stopped at an intersection across from Englund Marine & Industrial Supply Co., Vargas saw the man throw what appeared to be a large rock through the windshield and, from 30 feet away, could hear the shattering.
“I had never seen anything like that,” Vargas said. “It was just awkward to me why he would do it. It threw me off.”
Based on an encounter from a few weeks ago, Duryea suspected that Rodrigo Banda Espinoza, a 39-year-old homeless man who sleeps in the area and works at Da Yang Seafoods, had damaged the vehicles.
Duryea located two other similarly damaged cars — a Kia Sorento near Pier 2 and a Port Security Ford F-150 near Port offices — before eventually locating Espinoza as he was smoking marijuana on a park bench near the west end of the Astoria Riverwalk.
Espinoza allegedly admitted to damaging five cars, including the ones Duryea had already located. After Duryea arrested Espinoza, Vargas identified him as the man who had smashed the Cadillac.
Espinoza then pointed out to Duryea two other cars — a van with government license plates at the DMV and a white car on Gateway Avenue — that he allegedly damaged. Duryea estimated that each of the five cars sustained at least $1,000 worth of damage.
Espinoza was taken to the Clatsop County Jail on the five charges as well as a misdemeanor warrant out of Marion County. He was released from jail Tuesday.
On Wednesday night just before 5 p.m., police arrested Espinoza again after he allegedly threw two rocks through the double-paned DMV windows. When employees ran to see what caused the commotion, they saw him at the sidewalk throwing his arms up and gesturing toward them. An Oregon State Police trooper later arrested him at the Roundabout.
Espinoza told them he threw the rocks “because a voice in his head told him to,” according to the affidavit. The damage was estimated to be more than $1,000.
Espinoza was also convicted of third-degree criminal mischief for an incident in Clatsop County in July.