Man arrested in Los Altos for spreading substance in VTA bus and tampering with food at Safeway

David Lohr, 48

By the Daily Post staff

Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man suspected of spreading white powder and hydrogen peroxide on a VTA bus and tampering with food at a Safeway store in Sunnyvale.

The suspect, David Lohr, 48, was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 6) at a bus stop in Los Altos, according to the sheriff’s department.

At 8:47 a.m. Wednesday, deputies were dispatched to E. El Camino Real and Maria Lane in Sunnyvale on a report of a man spreading white powder and hydrogen peroxide on a bus.

The bus driver, Juan Balleza, immediately had the passengers get off the bus until deputies arrived, according to the sheriff. Lohr also got off the bus and walked away, the sheriff said.

At 9:55 a.m., VTA bus driver Michael Grenz alerted deputies that a man matching the suspect’s description was sitting at a bus stop near E. El Camino Real and San Antonio Road in Los Altos.

When deputies arrived, they contacted Lohr and discovered he was wanted on an outstanding federal warrant from the FBI in Los Angeles on a charge of tampering and attempting to tamper with consumer products.

Deputies found salt and several Safeway receipts in Lohr’s pockets and checked nearby Safeway stores, according to the sheriff.

Deputies spoke with grocery store employees, who said they had discovered an empty hydrogen peroxide container and hydrogen spilled in the heated tray of the rotisserie chickens on Jan. 26.

In addition to the hydrogen peroxide, detectives located video surveillance of Lohr pouring bleach on cartons of eggs in the same local store, according to the sheriff.

Bleach contains hazardous material that can cause serious eye irritation; skin irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The sheriff is checking to determine if any chickens or eggs that had been tampered with were sold to customers.

Safeway has a number of stores in Sunnyvale and a statement from the Sheriff’s Office didn’t say which one Lohr allegedly visited. The Post has a call into the sheriff to get the store’s location.

The substance Lohr allegedly spread on the bus wasn’t hazardous to the public, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Department said Safeway’s management has been extremely helpful in the investigation.

“The quick response and thorough investigation by our deputies prompted by vigilant and observant VTA bus drivers led to the apprehension of this suspect, whose actions had the potential to adversely affect the public’s health and safety,” said Sheriff Laurie Smith. “We’d also like to thank Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety for their assistance for expeditiously clearing and determining the substance on the bus wasn’t hazardous to the public.”

Lohr was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on the outstanding federal warrant and new charges in connection with the Safeway food tampering are pending.

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