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Man accused of crashing car into Pueblo Mall and making bomb threat enters insanity plea

In World
April 25, 2024

Editor’s note: Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not have mental illnessesaccording to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

A Pueblo man pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Wednesday after driving his car into the Pueblo Mall food court and allegedly making a bomb threat in November 2023.

Mario Arellano, 30, is facing 15 charges, including multiple counts of attempted murder and assault on a peace officer.

On the order of Judge Amiel Markenson, Arellano was remanded to the Pueblo County jail until a sanity evaluation can be conducted, which will likely occur between late August and November, according to information provided by the court.

Markenson noted that Arellano’s bond is not being revoked and he will be re-released on bond when the evaluation is completed and the court is notified.

Pueblo law enforcement investigate after an incident at the Pueblo Mall where a vehicle drove through the west side doors on Tuesday, November 14, 2023.

Pueblo law enforcement investigate after an incident at the Pueblo Mall where a vehicle drove through the west side doors on Tuesday, November 14, 2023.

Lindsey Wright, an attorney representing Arellano in the case, asked for a stay on admittance for evaluation, arguing that Arellano was out on bond and following strict bond requirements. Markenson overruled the objection, stating he believed Colorado legal guidelines for an insanity plea provided him with no room for discretion in the matter.

The incident occurred on Nov. 14, 2023. According to an arrest affidavit, before driving into the mall, Arellano allegedly called Pueblo police and told dispatchers, “I think I lost my mind. I’m about to start murdering people.”

“I think I finally snapped. I need a (Crisis Intervention Team) trained officer because I’m having a mental breakdown. I’m losing my mind,” he allegedly told dispatchers.

Officers responding to the scene heard gunshots on the west side of the mall and saw a silver Kia leaving the parking lot near where the shots were coming from. Police pursued the driver, later identified as Arellano, who led them on a chase before allegedly crashing through the food court doors.

Arellano refused multiple verbal commands to get out of his vehicle, according to the affidavit, and attempted to roll up the driver’s side window. Officers then “breached the window,” according to the report.

As officers were trying to take Arellano into custody, he began yelling that he “didn’t want a white person to touch him” and that he “hated white people.” He also said he had planted bombs around the mall and was planning to blow the mall up, according to the affidavit.

Officers noticed what appeared to be a pressure cooker in the rear seat of the Kia Soul driven by Arellano.

A bomb squad member spoke with Arellano, who at that time was in the back of a police vehicle. Arellano allegedly told the bomb squad member that his entire car was a bomb.

Arellano said he controlled the alleged planted bombs with a cell phone and was hooked up to a heart monitor that could also set the bombs off. Arellano alleged he had a “team of people around the world” who would “wreak havoc” if anything happened to him.

However, he later stated at UCHealth Parkview Medical Center that he was “off his medication” and “says a lot of things he doesn’t mean when he is not taking his medication.”

He said that when police showed up to the mall, he got scared and drove his vehicle away from people and into the mall. He said that he “hadn’t slept in several days and was hearing voices and having hallucinations.”

Pueblo police allege that Arellano has an “extensive criminal history,” including convictions for several counts of assault, one count of burglary, and one count of arson of a public building that endangered life. Police noted Arellano is flagged in the police department database as having emotional and behavioral issues with violent tendencies.

A review in Arellano’s case has been scheduled for Sept. 5.

More Pueblo public safety news: Homicides up 86% in Pueblo; City, FBI officials discuss plans to address rising crime

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Questions, comments, or story tips? Contact Justin at jreutterma@gannett.com. Follow him on X, formally known as Twitter, @jayreutter1. Support local news, subscribe to The Pueblo Chieftain at subscribe.chieftain.com.

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Mario Arellano pleads not guilty in Pueblo Mall car-ramming, bomb threat

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