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Three people charged with burglary, assault, property damage following incident at southeast side residence

WILLMAR -- Three people were arraigned Monday in Kandiyohi County District Court on burglary, assault and property damage charges for allegedly entering a Willmar home early Friday morning, brandishing a weapon at the residents and then using landscaping blocks to smash a vehicle.

Alberto Espinoza, 23, of Willmar faces four charges of first-degree burglary, two charges of second-degree assault, a felony charge of criminal damage to property and a misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault. Unconditional bail was set at $100,000 and conditional bail at $70,000 bond or $7,000 cash. He was ordered to have no contact with others involved in the case and not to possess firearms.

Sara Edith Rojas, 23, and John Ruben Garcia, 20, both of Willmar, each face seven charges of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary, second-degree assault and first-degree criminal damage to property. Unconditional bail was set for Rojas at $50,000 and conditional bail at $50,000 or $5,000 cash. Unconditional bail was set at $80,000 for Garcia. Conditional release was allowed for $70,000 or $7,000 cash.

All three have their next court appearance on Oct. 20.

According to the complaint, county dispatch received a report of a burglary in progress around 1:37 a.m. Friday along 14th Street Southeast. A Willmar police officer arrived and saw a woman running to a sport utility vehicle in the driveway.

The officer blocked the vehicle into the driveway and saw a man in the backseat making furtive movements.

The officer drew his firearm and ordered the man to put his hands where they could be seen. Another officer observed the man put something in the seat next to him and say "it's not a real gun."

Officers interviewed a number of people at the scene and learned that five people lived at the home.

Two others had arrived there from work and were followed into the driveway by the SUV. The witnesses said Espinoza got out of the vehicle, started an altercation with a man who lived there, punched him and eventually left when the man ignored him.

The witnesses said Espinoza, Rojas and Garcia returned 10 to 15 minutes later and entered through the front door of the home.

Two men said Es-pinoza po-inted a handgun at them, de-manded to see the man he had just assaulted and threatened to shoot them.

As the three left, the witnesses said, they smashed the windows of the car parked in the driveway. The officers examined the car, owned by a woman living at the home, and found that large retaining wall blocks had been thrown through the windshield, rear window and passenger window. A block had also been thrown on the hood. An estimate showed $4,152.49 in damages.

An officer examined the SUV and found an airsoft-style weapon, bearing the markings of a .40-caliber handgun, in plain view. There was also a holster and a magazine in the vehicle.

At the scene, Espinoza allegedly told an officer he and Rojas, his girlfriend, came over to get money for diapers from her husband. He claimed the man was verbally abusive to Rojas and that he got out of the vehicle to defend her.

Rojas said she came to the home to make plans to see her children, had an argument with their father and that Espinoza had a confrontation with him. She claimed no knowledge of the damage to the car.

All three were taken to the Law Enforcement Center and interviewed separately.

Espinoza claimed nothing ever happened at the residence, only that the cops were called when Rojas and the man were arguing.

Rojas claimed the man was supposed to watch their children that weekend and claimed that she only asked to speak to him. She said he and Espinoza only argued and there was no physical violence between them.

Garcia said Espinoza came to his home with Rojas and said Espinoza said he was needed to take care of some business. He admitted Espinoza had a black, airsoft-style BB gun and claimed he had loaned it to him a while back.

Garcia said they went to the home, Espinoza got out with the gun, went through the front door, pointed the gun at two men, and demanded to talk to the other man.