By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel: July 30, 2009
When Christina Chavez’s husband called and said a naked man had just attacked their van with a flashlight, she thought he was joking.
Michael Hagar, 38, of Swanzey allegedly used a large Maglite flashlight to smash the lights and windows of two vehicles parked behind the Hannaford grocery store Tuesday evening in Keene.
Hagar is also accused of chasing after bystanders and threatening to pummel them with the flashlight.
He was not wearing pants or underwear during the incident, police and witnesses said.
Later, at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene, Hagar kicked and spat on a Keene police officer and threatened a hospital employee, police said.
He now faces charges of criminal mischief, criminal threatening, simple assault and theft.
The flashlight Hagar wielded during the incident was taken from Chavez’s van, police said.
Christina Chavez said her husband, Abraham, had driven the van to work the day of the incident.
“He called later and said the van just got attacked by a naked hobo,” she said. “I really thought he was playing a prank on me.”
Abraham Chavez said he heard Hagar yelling that the van belonged to him and that it was shooting paint balls at him while he was hitting it with the flashlight, according to Christina Chavez.
All of the van’s windows are gone or shattered and its interior and exterior are spattered with Hagar’s blood.
Hagar cut himself on broken glass during the incident and was also bleeding from the face, police said.
The Chavezes’ van has been deemed a biohazard because of the blood, and they cannot drive it until Hagar is tested for communicable diseases, Christina Chavez said.
“If he’s got hepatitis or something, we may have to claim it as a total loss,” she said. “We don’t have another vehicle, so we have to get a rental car.”
Meanwhile, police are still sorting out the details of the bizarre incident.
They believe Hagar, whose nose was broken, may have been involved in a fight at a homeless camp in the woods behind Hannaford known as “tent city,” prior to the vehicle attacks, Keene police Lt. Jay U. Duguay said.
The homeless camp has existed for decades, but its population has recently grown, Duguay said.
“We have locals out there who have fallen on hard times and others who came to the city to start a new life,” he said. “Ever since I’ve been here, for 20 years, people have been camping there, but it’s certainly larger now than it used to be.”
He said police cannot tell the homeless campers to leave the property because it’s privately owned and the owner hasn’t said they are trespassing. The owner of the land could not be confirmed this morning before press time.
“Hannaford has asked us to do more patrols back there, which we’ve done,” he said. “We’ve also been called out there for assaults, disturbances.”
A manager at Hannaford declined to comment on the situation, citing company policy.
Hagar was arraigned Wednesday at Keene District Court. He was being held at the Cheshire County jail in Westmoreland for lack of $10,000 bail.