Suspect arrested in homeless machete attacks

A man who allegedly attacked people with a machete at homeless encampments near Pajaro River was arrested in Monterey County Tuesday, sheriff’s officials said.

Evarado Ortiz Vargas lived at one of the encampments where he was known as “El Diablo,” which is Spanish for “The Devil,” sheriff’s officials said.

One of the three assaults he allegedly committed happened on Oct. 17 when deputies responded to a report of a man assaulting people with a machete near the river, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jo Anna Butron said.

Arriving deputies learned the suspect, later identified as Vargas, allegedly struck a woman’s head with a machete, according to Butron.

The transient victim was transported to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas for treatment, Butron said.

Investigators were told by encampment residents of two other victims, but have only been in contact with the woman involved in the Oct. 17 assault, she said.

Deputies have spent weeks searching for Vargas, who other transients said often migrated along the riverbed from Watsonville, according to Butron.

Vargas is also accused of threatening people with the large knife if they refused to pay him, Butron said.

Two deputies found Vargas today near the river and arrested him in connection with last week’s assault, according to Butron.

Vargas, 40, was booked into Monterey County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted second-degree murder, according to online jail records.