Authorities arrest three people in connection with Vista explosions

Two of the suspects enter not-guilty pleas in court


Emergency lights. (Ariel Camilo, FreeImages)


Authorities arrested three people in connection with a series of explosions in Vista, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced May 7.

Two of the suspects entered not-guilty pleas to several felonies during a court hearing on Wednesday, May 11. The third suspect is set to be arraigned on May 17.

The suspects were arrested after a brief pursuit, the department stated in an update. A search of the car that the suspects were in and a house resulted in the seizure bomb-making materials and explosive devices in addition to rifles, handguns and ammunition.

Oceanside News logoThe arrests and search came after the department put a call out to the public seeking information about three bombings, which occurred May 4. The bombings happened between 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. in parking lots and open areas around East Vista Way and East Drive, with no apparent targets, according to the Sheriff’s Department report.

“We thank the public for calling in tips including sharing surveillance video from a security camera that helped identify a black car seen in one of the locations of the blast,” the department stated in its update after the arrests.

After receiving the tips, sheriff’s detectives saw the car in the 1200 block of North Santa Fe Avenue just after midnight Saturday, May 7. The driver took off when Vista Patrol Station deputies tried to pull the car over, authorities said. Passengers threw two explosive devices out of one of the car’s windows during the 2-mile pursuit. The car eventually stopped outside city limits in the 1800 block of Queens Way.

In addition to the arrests, Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit detectives collected the explosive devices that were thrown along the way and neutralized them, according to the department’s report.

A search warrant served for the car and house in the 1200 block of North Santa Fe Avenue yielded the discovery of the bomb-related materials, guns and ammunition, authorities said.

Three children — a 14-year-old boy, 7-year-old girl and infant — were found unhurt at the house and were handed over to relatives by county Child Protective Services, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

“The investigation is continuing, but there appears to be no specific target for the explosions,” the Sheriff’s Department stated. “No one was hurt and no property was damaged in the incidents.”

Authorities identified the suspects arrested as Valentin Castaneda, 25, Juan Jose Castaneda Santiago, 22, and Caleigh Tabler, 21.

Castaneda faces charges of possessing a destructive device near a church and on public streets, possessing material with intent to make explosives, exploding a device with intent to terrify, felony evading and child endangerment, the Sheriff’s Department stated. Castaneda Santiago and Tabler face charges of being an accessory after the fact and child endangerment.

The three were booked into Vista Detention Facility, according to the department’s report.

Castaneda and Tabler entered not-guilty pleas at the May 11 arraignment. Castaneda Santiago’s arraignment is expected May 17.

OsideNews is an Oceanside news site affiliated with the North Coast Current.

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