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California

U-Haul driver slams van into crowd outside Encinitas bar, injuring 5, authorities say

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A U-Haul van plowed into a crowd outside the Saloon, a bar on South Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas, Calif.

A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after authorities and witnesses said he intentionally drove a U-Haul van down a bustling sidewalk and into a crowd outside a bar in downtown Encinitas early Sunday.

The incident caused panic as bystanders jumped out of the way when the white rental van barreled toward the Saloon about 1:20 a.m.

Five people were taken to local hospitals, three who were struck by the van and suffered serious injuries and two who sustained minor injuries when they helped hold the driver until deputies arrived.

Encinitas Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Spaulding said the van also struck a large tree, which prevented “a lot more injuries.”

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The scene unfolded after the suspect, Christian Davis, 28, was kicked out of the Saloon because of “his level of intoxication,” San Diego County sheriff’s Sgt. Agustin Rosas said.

Davis then drove the van onto the sidewalk in front of the bar on South Coast Highway 101 “in an attempt to hit people [who] were standing outside the Saloon,” Rosas said

Tyler Harris, a former employee of the bar, said he was outside talking to a bouncer when another bouncer walked out with the suspect.

“He was pretty much belligerent,” Harris told OnScene.TV, adding that the man wouldn’t leave, forcing bouncers to “forcibly remove him” from the area in front of the bar.

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Before he left, the man made an apparent threat, Harris said.

“He was like, ‘I’m going to come back for you guys,’” Harris said. “We didn’t think it was anything. We kind of thought he was just talking his talk.”

About 10 minutes later, Harris said, the van was driven toward him and others in front of the Saloon.

“We all jumped out of the way,” he said. “At that point, everyone was freaking out.”

Tiago Teixeira said he saw people scrambling and thought a fight had broken out. Then he saw the van.

He told OnScene.TV that a friend grabbed him and pulled him out out of the way. “The car just came flying through and ran into the bar,” he said.

Alex Anaya was inside the bar when he saw the door and glass had been “bashed inside.” Moments later, a male victim with a leg injury walked up to him and a friend.

“He was bleeding all over the floor, everywhere,” Anaya told OnScene.TV.

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He said he took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet, holding the victim’s leg until first responders arrived. His shoes and hands were covered in blood.

Witnesses said bouncers and others bashed in a window and pulled the driver out of the van. Although the man resisted, they pinned him to the ground until deputies arrived and arrested him.

Online jail records show Davis was booked into jail on three counts of attempted murder and one count of escaping or attempting to escape from custody.

Hernandez writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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