For the past week detectives from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department have been investigating reports of several instances of intentional contamination of food items by a suspect(s) in at least two local restaurants. The first report involved approximately four events at the Hot Wok Chinese Food restaurant in the Raley’s Supermarket. The next report involved a similar number of events at the Baja Fresh restaurant in the same South Lake Tahoe shopping center. The crimes occurred over an approximate two week time period, from November 8th through November 19th. Based upon the suspect’s method of operation and description of the appearance and chemical odor associated with the substance used to contaminate the food sources, detectives believe the crimes are connected.
Detectives, through collaboration with Raley’s security personnel, were able to identify the suspect in the video as 43 year old Harry Dally. On November 22nd detectives served a search warrant at Dally’s residence which is located within South Lake Tahoe. The search warrant service revealed items of interest related to this investigation. The SLTPD now has an indication of what the contaminating substance may be. We are intentionally withholding this information for its investigatory value pending laboratory analysis confirmation and questioning of the suspect. Based upon this arrest we believe the immediate jeopardy to the public has been abated. Nevertheless, reasonable caution by the public and our community food proprietors is still warranted due to the identity of the suspect responsible for the Baja Fresh crimes has not yet been fully established. Further public information related to this case will likely be made available tomorrow after consultation with laboratory services and other investigative priorities have been met.
Dally has been arrested and booked into the El Dorado County Jail in South Lake Tahoe. He is charged with a single felony count of intentionally dispensing a contaminating substance capable of causing death or injury on food items for human consumption as this offense relates to the Hot Wok inside of Raley’s.
While we believe a strong possibility exists that the crimes at the Baja Fresh restaurant and the Raley’s Hot Wok are connected, we have yet to receive video from Baja Fresh corporate resources in order to make a positive identification of a suspect there. Detectives continue to objectively investigate the crimes at Baja Fresh, on their own merit.