May 20, 2014

Arrest Made in Chemical Attack on Social Security Office

On the morning of May 13, 2014 our officers responded to a report of a chemical attack on the Santa Cruz area Social Security Administration Office at 169 Walnut Avenue.  

The attack involved a person breaking the windows to the office and pouring a caustic chemical mixture of chlorine bleach and ammonia into the building. 
At the risk of sounding like Cliff from Cheers
This combination produces an initial reaction of hydrochloric acid:

NaOCl → NaOH + HOCl
HOCl → HCl + O

With a secondary reaction creating chloramine gas:

NaOCl + 2HCl → Cl2 + NaCl + H2O
2NH3 + Cl2 → 2NH2Cl

Exposure to this mixture is potentially lethal. 

Emergency medical crews responded to assist employees exposed to the gas and the building was evacuated. 

Our investigation led to the identification of the suspect as:
Joseph Anton Loris – 70 years old, Transient

This morning (May 20, 2014), Detectives located and arrested Mr. Loris at approximately 11:00 AM.  He was arrested near the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Third Street in Santa Cruz.

Mr. Loris was interviewed by detectives where he went on an anti-government rant, but fell short of confessing to the crime.   

Detectives used images from video evidence to help identify Mr. Loris as the suspect in this case.  Here are some of the images we used:

To help you match it up a little, here is the profile shot from his booking photo:
Turns out, Mr. Loris recently had his car towed by our traffic team.  He was quickly recognized by our officers.  Great team work by our detectives and patrol teams on this one! 

Because the attack involved a Federal facility, detectives worked closely with the FBI and the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office during the investigation. 

Mr. Loris was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail on charges of (1) Burglary, (2) Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and (3) Felony Vandalism.   Mr. Loris’ previous contact with the police department consists mostly of traffic violations.