Update January 21: Peter Carzis was arrested this morning in San DIego for felony vandalism and misdemeanor battery on multiple reporters, Lt. Greg Runge has informed ECM,. He is accused of destroying a camera valued at $7,000. In addition, La Mesa Police will also be sending two reports for lewd acts in public and misdemeanor battery from a spitting incident on Saturday to the District Attorney “recommending prosecution on all charges."
Lt. Runge also confirmed that Carzis, 76, “is undergoing a medical evaluation at a local hospital prior to being cleared for booking.” The LMPD lieutenant concluded, “I hope this will bring closure for all concerned.”
By Miriam Raftery
Photos, left, via Fox News Twitter feed and 10 News, an ECM news partner
January 20, 2020 (La Mesa) – Peter Carzis, owner of Peter’s Men’s Apparel in downtown La Mesa, is wanted for questioning by police tonight for misdemeanor battery and felony property destruction after violently attacking at least three news photographers today. He is also wanted by police for complaints filed over a lewd act in public caught on video Saturday and posted on Twitter, as well as for an additional battery complaint after he allegedly spit on a passerby over the weekend.
“Mr. Carzis was no longer on scene when officer went to talk to him and his whereabouts are currently unknown, so he has not been arrested. We are currently attempting to locate him so we can continue the investigation,” Lt. Greg Runge with La Mesa Police Department said in an e-mail to ECM this evening “The Investigations Division has the reports and Detectives are conducting follow up on both cases. If anyone as information regarding these cases, they are encouraged to contact us at (619)667-1400.”
The Twitter video sparked public outrage, showing Carzis apparently groping the breasts of a woman straddled across his lap on a public sidewalk in front of his resale clothing shop. Some residents who know the woman have indicated they believe she is mentally impaired. LMPD has indicated that detectives want to talk with any potential victims of sexual misconduct by Carzis.
Addie Pastore posted on the La Mesa Happenings page on Facebook that she and her husband were walking past Peter’s Mens Apparel, located at 8239 La Mesa Blvd., Saturday, when her husband waved at the shop owner and he spit in our direction. My husband stopped and turned around and said, `Excuse me?’ The owner again spit in my husband’s face and said F you to him..FOR NO REASON.”
The recent incidents aren’t the first times that Carzis has been accused of inappropriate behavior. Several other women have posted comments on Yelp claiming he touched the inappropriately or made crude comments. One woman posted a video and still photos of Carzis clutching his crotch and shouting at her.
One outraged resident, who asked not to be named in our article, created a printout passed out to nearby business owners to notify them of “unwelcome behavior” by Carzis which may be affecting other businesses, since some people have posted on social media that they are avoiding the area near Carzis’ store due to his reported actions. The letter lists the alleged actions, some documented on video, and questions why no arrests or legal action have been taken despite multiple complaints. The print-out urges business owners to voice concerns at the City Council hearing on Tuesday, January 28 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
When news media arrived mid-afternoon today to confront Carzis about the accusations, an altercation ensued. Witnesses have indicated Carzis first went after a female reporter/photographer from Univision, breaking her camera. Photos on social media show multiple pieces broken off the camera, scattered across the street. Carzis then chased, lunged at and repeatedly pushed another photographer with a videocamera, then turned around and struck yet a third journalist, Dan Plante of KUSI, in the face, drawing blood. Throughout the rampage, Carzis is heard on videos repeatedly cursing at the reporters, then laughing before running into his store and locking the door. By the time police arrived, Carzis was gone, presumably escaping out a back door.
View videos of Carzis attacking news media members:
Videos of Carzis attacking news media:
CBS 8: https://www.cbs8.com/article/news/investigations/la-mesa-businessman-sparks-concern-among-residents/509-b0ee41e3-022d-40e5-9994-633aa54f351b?fbclid=IwAR3nlmzlUH-porp2Za16N42nkqTO0faDw5QRfOQAXjfrO0TEMQZ4ScY_ftc
Superior Court records indicate that a Peter Carzis has had three civil lawsuits filed against him in East County including two harassment cases in 2013 and 2015:
There were also two criminal cases filed in 2013 in North County against a George P. Carzis, born in 1943:
Details and resolution of these cases are not readily available.
Hundreds of comments have been posted on social media voicing offense at the behavior of Carzis, with some speculating he could be suffering from dementia, mental illness or substance abuse.
But at least one community member remembered a time when Carzis seemed far different.
Kelly Halavais writes that Carzis’ behavior has “drastically changed over the last few years,” adding, “for years he helped homeless man Larry (who I have known my entire life) get off the street and into a home where he could pass away somewhere safe vs. the streets. I am a resident of La Mesa for 50 years; the Peter today is not the Peter of a few years back, something is wrong, rather it be mental or alcohol, he has changed. I am hopeful he gets the help he needs. What I knew of him, he helped a man that my family loved, die with dignity.”