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Reedsburg man charged with terrorist threats against employer

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A Reedsburg man who was arrested after threatening to return to his workplace with a gun while being escorted out of the building was released on a $500 cash bond Thursday.

Matthew Delbert Espinoza, 23, faces a felony charge of making terrorist threats, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 1.5 years and two years of extended supervision. He was also charged with disorderly conduct.

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Espinoza

Espinoza appeared July 18 in Sauk County Circuit Court. Judge Patricia Barrett set the bond after prosecutor Emily Eklund asked for a $10,000 cash bail to be set and Espinoza’s defense attorney, Blake Duren, requested a signature bond.

Conditions of the bond include no contact with the two employees who said Espinoza threatened them or Zinga Industries, Inc., where Espinoza worked until July 14. He was also ordered to surrender his firearms to the Reedsburg Police Department.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police were called to Zinga Industries, 2400 Zinga Dr., just before 11:30 a.m. July 14 after Espinoza had what other employees called “an outburst” during a staff meeting. A human resources representative for the company told police the facility had been locked down, though employees were allowed to leave if they did not feel safe staying after Espinoza was escorted out of the building.

The representative said because of previous behavior displayed by Espinoza and his consistent talk of owning multiple guns, the company took the threat as credible and responded accordingly.

A supervisor said when Espinoza disrupted the staff meeting, he was told to leave for the day and calm down. The supervisor said Espinoza became angry and refused to leave, prompting the supervisor to threaten to fire him if he didn’t go.

The supervisor said, “he tried to reason with Espinoza and deescalate the situation, but Espinoza continued” and taunted the supervisor, asking if he was going to “call the cops.” The supervisor told Espinoza he did not want to have to call authorities, but he would if needed.

Espinoza threw an item on the floor and started cursing, yelling that he was quitting and shouting expletives about the business and his direct supervisor. He also referred to the supervisor who asked him to leave by a homophobic slur and insinuated the man had exchanged sexual favors for his job before threatening to rturn to return with a gun.

“You are going to have a hard time getting home,” Espinoza allegedly told the supervisor, adding that he would kill him. “If I show up tomorrow, what are you even going to do?”

Espinoza then left in a 2013 blue Dodge Dart.

The supervisor said Espinoza had similar “outbursts” when he disagreed with something going on at the facility, but “they had never been that bad,” adding that most employees there knew Espinoza owned guns and “typically kept one in his vehicle.”

A witness to the exchange had helped escort Espinoza out from a distance and corroborated most of the statements the supervisor claimed Espinoza made. The witness said Espinoza “often bragged” to other employees that he owned “multiple firearms” and heard him say more than one time that he would have a gun the next time he saw the supervisor.

The HR representative said a number of other employees on the work floor heard the exchange and were upset. “Several were in tears and a couple of employees had panic attacks,” according to the complaint.

Police met with Espinoza at his home after leaving Zinga, which is an oil filtration system manufacturer. Espinoza said he “did some things at work he should not have” and told police he was angry because he felt company management was ignoring issues that threatened employee safety.

Espinoza told police he owns two rifles and a 9mm handgun, but said he didn’t threaten anyone with a firearm while being escorted off the property. He would never threaten anyone’s life because he knows it would be a felony, Espinoza told police. Upon questioning, Espinoza admitted that he knew he had scared fellow employees and assumed the building would be locked down as the result of his threats once he left.

Espinoza is scheduled to return to court Sept. 15.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.

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