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Victim of original Trinidad package explosion speaks out exclusively to News 5

It happened in a Walmart parking lot
Victim of original Trinidad package explosion speaks out exclusively to News 5
Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 20:55:28-05

TRINIDAD — After two explosions--happening three days apart--left one man fighting for his life, the victim of the first explosion is speaking out exclusively to News 5 about his ordeal, and the motives he believes could be behind it.

It may not look like much to some, but for Ron Garcia, his fifth wheel camper is his pride and joy.

“It’s all I need now,” Garcia said. “This is our little home here.”

For the past half decade, he and his girlfriend, Brenda Builta, have been on quite the journey.

“I worked my way from living out of my vehicle, to a tent, to a pop-up camper and worked my way up to finally buying this,” Garcia said.

He doesn’t have much. But what little he does get, he puts into that camper.

“I’m doing all the cabinets, everything in it,” he said. “We’re repainting everything. Doing all the kitchen.”

It’ll make their journey more relaxed.

“I want it to look brand new,” he said.

But recently along that journey, Garcia couldn’t escape a sinking feeling.

“I told [Builta] something bad’s gonna happen,” Garcia said. “I don’t know what it is I said, but I have a funny feeling something bad is gonna happen.”

Then came February 5.

“Look what happened,” he said.

Garcia and Builta had their camper parked outside a Trinidad Walmart that week. On Feb. 5, they left around 10:30 a.m. to run some errands, getting back around 2:30 that afternoon. That’s when Garcia noticed a small box under the camper.

“It was probably about half the size, about three quarters of the size of [my cell phone],” he said.

He picked it up, unsure of what it was.

“That’s when I handed it to Brenda, and she tried to open it up and I told her not to,” he said.

But the curiosity got the better of him.

“I couldn’t open it, so I turned around and went and got a screwdriver out of the toolbox.”

He set the box on a nearby curb to pry it open.

And then it happened.

“When it went off, I pushed myself back,” he said. “And that’s when I felt like I was burned.”

The tiny box had exploded into seemingly a million tiny pieces. Debris scattered all over the empty parking spaces nearby.

It packed a punch.

“I got a razor blade stuck up here,” Garcia said.

The blade was less than an inch from his eye. But aside from that and a few other cuts, Garcia miraculously got out unscathed.

“It didn’t really bother me,” he said. “I knew it was a bomb. And I didn’t call the cops.”

That was until until a couple hours later, got another one of those nagging feelings.

“It got to me and thinking of a little kid getting one,” he said. “What if my kids or something would’ve grabbed it.”

So he called the police. They took down his information, gathered some evidence, and left.

But three days later, tragedy struck again. 20-year-old Diego Hurtado picked up a similar box in an apartment complex parking lot across town. He remains in critical condition.

“We thought right away how that could be us,” Garcia said.

At that point, the ATF was involved. By the end of the day, police had Jonathan Armijo in custody in connection to both explosions--a familiar name for Garcia.

“I knew that kid when he was little,” Garcia said. “He was just a little kid. I worked for his father.”

Fast forward to last year. Garcia said he purchased a guitar from Armijo. Earlier this month, Garcia said Armijo stopped by his camper looking for the payment.

“Come in a couple days and I’ll have it for you,” Garcia said.

If only he could have predicted what would come next.

“He came back, yeah. With a boom,” Garcia’s girlfriend Brenda Builta said.

Maybe he could sleep better.

“You’ll never forget… I’ll never forget this,” Garcia said.

Maybe he could still trust.

“I won’t pick up nothing no more,” he said.

His camper is his home.

“Compared to where we lived, to what we had before, it’s a home,” he said.

Now, Garcia is just counting his blessings that his journey can still go on.

“This is my home man. This is probably where I’m gonna stay for the rest of my life,” he said.

Armijo now faces a multitude of charges, including counts of attempted first degree murder.

Trinidad police say the investigation is far from over, and they’re looking into other people possibly involved in the two incidents.