MCSO: Man arrested near Palo Verde nuclear plant

Posted at 1:26 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 21:27:31-04

A suspect has been arrested after he allegedly got too close to the Palo Verde Generating Station in Tonopah.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said 33-year-old Alexander Chavez was discovered in the employee parking lot at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday after he followed a worker from his home in Buckeye to the plant. 

According to MCSO, Chavez drove past a "no trespassing" sign and followed employees through the parking lot.  Witnesses say Chavez got out of his car and appeared to be praying and made gun gestures with his hands. He then allegedly approached the a perimeter fence and was detained by security. 

Chavez was booked by MCSO for criminal trespass and possession of drug paraphernalia.

APS, which runs Palo Verde, released a statement saying the man was found "more than a quarter mile from the plant’s secure perimeter.  There was no disruption or threat to plant operations at any time.”

Chavez was booked by MCSO for criminal trespass and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"We can honestly say there's no connection to any terrorist affiliations or anything like that, but we are still looking into his motive," MCSO Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez said.