The man authorities say was behind a series of attacks in which bleach was poured into California supermarket freezers in Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Sunnyvale has been arrested and charged with tampering with consumer products, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles said Monday.
David Clare Lohr was taken into custody last week in Santa Clara by sheriff’s deputies. He later was identified as the man seen on video entering South Bay supermarkets, taking bleach from store shelves and then pouring it into freezers, according to Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Lohr, 48, was charged in a federal criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with tampering and attempting to tamper with consumer products. The FBI had been looking for Lohr until his arrest in Northern California, where officials say he was living as a transient. He is charged with similar attacks in Orange County and Arizona.
Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies arrested Lohr in Sunnyvale after receiving a report about a man dumping a white powder and hydrogen peroxide on a public bus. That powder was later determined to be salt.
The deputies detained Lohr at a bus stop in Los Altos and then found the FBI warrant for him. They connected him to an earlier incident in which he is accused of pouring hydrogen peroxide on or near rotisserie chickens at a Sunnyvale supermarket.
Lohr was seen on surveillance videos in December and January pouring bleach into supermarket refrigerators and freezers containing ice, alcoholic beverages and packaged frozen seafood in multiple cities in Southern California, the charges state.
The attacks began in Manhattan Beach on Dec. 14, when Lohr reportedly grabbed a bottle of bleach off a supermarket shelf and poured it onto ice bags inside a freezer. According to an FBI special agent’s affidavit, customers on Dec. 16 in a Redondo Beach supermarket noticed an odor of bleach coming from ice bags in the freezer. One of the bags was being carried by a child when a store employee took the bag. The child’s black shirt was discolored by the bleach. The staff member went to the freezer and immediately smelled the fumes, while another worker found a bottle of bleach in the aisle.
A man resembling Lohr was captured on security video pouring the bleach at the Redondo Beach market owned by Kroger. A day later he allegedly struck again, targeting a Westwood supermarket with a similar bleach attack and damaging as many as 40 bags of ice. A month later, Lohr allegedly targeted a West Hollywood supermarket and poured bleach onto frozen shrimp packages.
Prosecutors said Lohr carried out the attacks during regular supermarket hours.
Lohr was arrested in October after a series of bleach attacks at six Target stores in the Phoenix area. No one was harmed in the incidents. After being released from custody, Lohr failed to show up to court and became a fugitive.
“To date, there have been no known reports of individuals sickened by Lohr’s actions; however, further investigation has determined that Lohr has done this in a variety of stores, and the extent of his actions are currently under investigation,” FBI officials said.
Arrest records show Lohr has previously been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor assault in Portland, Ore., in 2012 and had spent a month in a Florida jail three years earlier on suspicion of grand theft auto.
Lohr is being held in Santa Clara County. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the FBI at (800) 225-5324.