Intoxicated homeless man arrested for assault after hitting another man with a chair

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The altercation took place in the desert area behind the Natural Remedy Patient Center located at the intersection of 14th Avenue and Thatcher Boulevard (U.S. Highway 70).

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – An intoxicated homeless man allegedly struck another man with a chair after his unwanted advances to the man’s girlfriend were acknowledged. 

Pete Criner, 42, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on Sunday, Oct. 20. 

According to a Safford Police report, Criner said he had been evicted from his motel room and had nowhere else to go. He then came upon a group of people drinking in the desert area behind the Natural Remedy Patient Center at 1362 W. Thatcher Blvd. 

Witnesses at the scene advised that Criner had propositioned the victim’s girlfriend and that the victim had spoken to him about it. Criner then allegedly grabbed a chair and came up behind the victim and struck him in the head. The victim and others then began fighting with Criner. 

An employee at the medical marijuana dispensary heard the commotion and went outside in time to see the action. She called the police and corroborated the story of events. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Pete Criner

Lifeline Ambulance arrived and assessed Criner, who was obviously very intoxicated, and the victim, who had also been drinking alcohol. Criner was taken to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for treatment while the victim denied medical assistance. 

At the ER, a doctor informed the officer that this was Criner’s third time receiving similar medical treatment that week and that each time they had offered to get him into an alcohol rehab or detox center but that he refused. 

After being medically cleared for the jail, Criner was taken into custody. He denied striking the victim but then reportedly said the victim got what he deserved several times. After being informed he was under arrest for assault, Criner allegedly said he would like to go to an alcohol detox or rehab. 

He was then transported to the jail and booked on his assault charge.