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Tragedy in Tumon

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Chad Desoto, 21, from Tamuning Chad Desoto, 21, from Tamuning

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - A 21-year old man is being held behind bars on murder and attempted murder charges after driving his car into a crowd of people and stabbing several more. As such, the heart of Guam's tourism district became the center of tragedy just after 10pm Tuesday.    

An eyewitness told KUAM News, "He came out of the parking lot of Globe and he started revving his engine," adding that the entire sequence of events happened incredibly fast - a car engine revving and the driver speeding onto the sidewalk, pummeling over several tourists. "Two Japanese couples got knocked down," the person said. "There's a lady with two daughters one was in the bush and they were still breathing and another one was on the floor; her body was all contorted and everything."

The driver, identified as 21-year-old Chad Ryan Desoto, kept driving on the sidewalk and crashed into the ABC Store just below the Outrigger Resort. Eyewitnesses say Desoto got out and began stabbing people randomly. 

Kevin Quinata just reported for work at the hotel, recalling, "I seen the blood [sic]. There was blood already all over the people, so I ran and got some towels and ran back out. By the time I came back out, they had already subdued him, and it was ugly."

Other eyewitnesses report that they had nearly been struck by the car when they saw Desoto get out and stab a woman, a toddler, and an elderly woman.  Several people rushed Desoto and tried to restrain him as many bypassers began kicking him while he was on the ground until police arrived.  The road was blocked off as police conducted their investigation.  A total of 14 people were injured.  (See the full list of victims here.)

A 29-year-old woman, identified as Rie Sugiyama; and 81-year-old Kazuko Uehara died from the stabbing.  Among the other stabbing victims who were treated at the Guam Memorial Hospital were an 8-month-old boy and a 3-year-old child.  Officials say Desoto stabbed eight people and struck six others with the car.

All of the victims, with the exception of one woman, Kaylani Quichocho, appear to be tourists.

Desoto was escorted into the Guam Police Department's Hagatna Precinct late this morning for processing. In court today he was charged with two counts of murder with a special allegation of possession and use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, attempted aggravated murder, and eight counts of aggravated assault all with special allegations. The charges come with a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. The special allegations come with a minimum of 5 to 25 years behind bars.

According to the magistrate's complaint, Desoto told police officers he intended on "hurting as many people with his vehicle initially and subsequently with his knife."

Assistant Attorney General David Rivera sought $2,000,000 bail. "The facts of this case demonstrate a heinous and extreme act of violence of a type which is rarely seen here on Guam," he stated. "Based on the nature of the conduct and the number of victims, we believe this defendant represents a danger to all citizens of Guam." Magistrate Judge Alberto Tolentino agreed and appointed the Public Defender to represent Desoto, who has no prior criminal background other than five prior traffic violations.

He is scheduled to appear back in court on February 22 for a preliminary examination.

What once was a chaotic scene has now returned to some sort of normalcy. It appears to be business as usual and there are no signs of the horrific events that occurred less than 24 hours ago.  Governor Eddie Calvo as a result of last night's tragic incident has ordered increased police presence in the tourist district in hopes to allay the fears and concerns for Guam's visitors.

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