Man Assaults Woman with Sulfuric Acid: Cops

The victim told police she did not know the suspect, who threw burning chemicals at her in front of a laundromat

By Wendy Fry and Monica Garske
|  Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012  |  Updated 4:49 PM PDT
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Sulfuric Acid Thrower Under Psychiatric Evaluation

NBCSanDiego

The suspect accused of throwing burning chemicals at a woman outside a laundromat in Golden Hill was later arrested at a nearby gas station.

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A man who allegedly threw sulfuric acid on a woman walking into a Golden Hill laundromat is now being evaluated by psychologists.

The assault happened at 1015 25th Street just before 6 a.m. on Sept. 22. After tossing sulfuric acid at a woman, the suspect fled the scene by car.

The woman was taken to a hospital and treated for second degree burns on her face, arms and back. Officials said the victim was injured pretty badly.

She described the suspect's vehicle to police as an older model, dark blue BMW. She told police she did not know the suspect.

About 20 minutes later, police arrested a 55-year-old man in a dark blue BMW who was causing a disturbance nearby at a Shell Gas Station at 2484 F Street.

The woman positively identified the man at the gas station as the same man who threw the caustic chemicals at her in front of the laundromat. Police said the suspect’s name is Arturo Jose Reyes.

Hazardous Materials officials later identified the chemical substance thrown at the victim as sulfuric acid, police said. Hazmat crews decontaminated the scene at 25th Street following the attack.

Reyes was taken into custody without incident and booked into San Diego Central Jail. He's being charged with assault with a caustic chemical, aggravated mayhem, vandalism and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

According to police, when a person is guilty of aggravated mayhem he or she intentionally causes permanent disability or disfigurement of another person, manifesting extreme indifference to the physical or psychological well-being of another person.

Reyes could face life in prison with the possibility of parole if he’s found guilty. Police said the motive for the assault is under investigation.

"It does appear to be random, and I don't know why he picked her out. After we talk to him, if he chooses to talk to us, maybe we'll find out a little more about that,” explained SDPD Lt. Joseph Ramos.

The name of the victim was not released.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if sulfuric acid makes contact with the skin or eyes it can lead to severe redness, pain, blisters and serious, deep skin burns. If the chemical is inhaled or ingested upon contact, it can also cause shortness of breath, shock or collapse.

On Sept. 26, Reyes pleaded not guilty in court to assault with a caustic chemical and vandalism, authorities said. At that point, his bail was set at $500,000.

On Nov. 26, scheduled criminal proceedings for Reyes were suspended after authorities said Reyes was being evaluated by a psychologist.

He’s now scheduled to appear in court Jan. 8 for a mental competency hearing and then again on Jan. 23 for further proceedings.

Reyes is currently being held at the George Bailey Detention Facility and is not eligible for release or bail.

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