Craigslist user gets bear maced in the face, car stolen

Posted at 9:44 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 00:28:03-04

DENVER – What started with a Craigslist ad to sell his custom Hummer H2 did not end well for Denver resident Michael Chelala.

"I wish bear Mace on nobody," said Chelala. "Bear mace, straight to the face. It's supposed to put a bear down from ten to 15 feet."

Denver police are investigating the attack that happened Wednesday night. Investigators stated in a police report obtained by Denver7 that Chelala met with the suspect at his home that morning to discuss purchasing the Hummer.

"He came out. He test drove the vehicle. He liked it," said Chelala, who said the man was driving a burgundy lifted Jeep Wrangler and arrived with his girlfriend and a $500 deposit to gain his trust, promising to come back that night and pay the rest. 

Chelala brought his roommate, Josh Willis, along for the transaction that night, just in case.

"I was hopeful this was going to be a clear, legit deal, but it turns out it was not," said Willis.

They obtained surveillance video from the apartment complex showing the three men going into the building to exchange cash. Once they got into his apartment, Chelala said he started to cut open a vacuum sealed plastic back of what appeared to be $100 bills, but what he soon saw were actually singles.

When he turned around, the man was already holding up the bear pepper spray and hit him in the face with it. His roommate was hit in the back of the head.

The man got away, while both men spent the night in the Emergency Room in severe pain.

"Like a sunburn times a hundred -- worst sunburn I ever had times a hundred," said Willis.

Even worse, they had given the Hummer keys to the man's girlfriend, and she had taken off with it. 

"My main concern is we catch people like him and his girlfriend," said Chelala, who wants to warn other people to go to a police station for large cash exchanges on Craigslist purchases. "Because as we speak right now, they're planning their next heist."

He is offering a $2,000 reward for his car, if it is returned in one piece.

This is an ongoing investigation.