Just after midnight on a recent Monday, a man pulled his car into the Mega Foods grocery store on Northeast Devonshire in Salem, looking for a friend in the area.
A man he thought was his friend approached, but he turned out to be a stranger.
The stranger pulled open the car door and struck the driver several times “in an underhand stabbing motion,” according to a later police affidavit. “(The victim) was confused initially before he was stabbed in his ribs on the left side of his body.”
Salem police later arrested Roberto Chacon, 34, of Salem, in connection with the Feb. 6 attack and another attempted carjacking.
The affidavit supporting Chacon’s arrest described how the wounded driver was unable to fend off the attacker but managed to speed away. He “took a sharp turn around” and drove toward Chacon, who he described as laughing at him, the police report said.
Salem police arrested Chacon around 90 minutes later after he went across the street to the Walmart Superstore on Northeast Lancaster Drive and tried to get into another occupied car, according to the report.
A Marion County grand jury indicted Chacon on Monday, Feb. 13, on charges of second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and attempted unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, court records showed.
The stabbing victim told police that he left the parking lot and called a friend for a ride to the hospital after he couldn’t immediately find an officer, the affidavit said. He reported that the attacker stabbed him with a narrow, 3- to 4-inch flat blade or tool such as a screwdriver. His injuries included lacerations to his bicep and forearm knuckle.
Around 1:50 a.m. that morning, police responded to “a report of a prowler with a similar M.O.” at the Walmart across the street, the report said. A second driver called to report Chacon was trying to open his car doors.
The caller, who is not being identified but is named in public court documents, told Salem Reporter he pulled into the parking lot around 1:40 a.m. during a three-hour drive from Washington to charge his new electric car. He described in a written account what happened.
Shortly after he plugged in, he returned to his driver’s seat and started the charge. His wife alerted him that a man was approaching the driver’s door from behind. He made sure the doors were locked.
“The man began telling me I needed to get out and fix the plug-in as he attempted to open the driver’s side doors,” the victim recounted. “He continued to position himself near the edge of my driver’s door, intermittently hitting the car and attempting to open my door.”
The victim told the man to leave them alone and that he was calling the police. The man continued to insist the driver get out of the car while trying to force open the driver’s side doors and trunk as he moved to the passenger side of the car where his wife sat.
As he dialed 911 at 1:49 a.m., his wife tried to take a photo of the attacker with her phone, “which he did not like, so he hit the car and ducked while trying to force open her passenger side doors,” the victim said.
Shortly after, he said the attacker “retreated behind the power station transformers from where he’d appeared,” and they saw the first of several Salem police cars arrive. The officers told them they saw a man matching their description across the road in another parking lot.
Chacon repeatedly provided a fictitious name to officers, who noticed blood on his hands and clothing. Police also saw he was standing next to a Leatherman tool with an extended knife blade, according to the affidavit.
The victim said he later noticed a significant amount of blood below his door handle.
The couple had resumed their trip home when police called, asking them to return to the scene to provide more information.
“Upon returning to the lot with multiple police vehicles and professionals we began to suspect something larger was happening,” the victim wrote in his account. “We had no knowledge of prior events and had I decided to follow any urge to get out and confront him rather than call 911 the outcome in this case would potentially be much different.”
Chacon was being held without bail as of Tuesday afternoon at the Marion County Jail, the jail’s roster showed.
Chacon is scheduled to enter a plea on Feb. 22.
He pleaded guilty in Marion County Circuit Court in 2017 to second-degree assault and first-degree burglary. Deputies at that time believed Chacon went to his mother’s home and stabbed her boyfriend “without provocation,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release at the time. The victim suffered injuries to his chest and hand.
Chacon was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison, with six years of post-prison supervision. He was also ordered to pay $6,000 to the victim.
Marion County prosecutors dismissed charges of attempted murder, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of methamphetamine as part of his plea deal, court records showed.
Chacon has previous criminal convictions in Marion County dating back to 2008, including first-degree forgery, unauthorized use of a vehicle, fourth-degree assault and coercion.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.