The 22-year-old man who blew through a suburban Chicago mall in an SUV, wrecking several kiosks and storefronts and sending shoppers scattering, was denied bail Sunday after being charged with terrorism and criminal damage to property.
Javier Garcia was held without bond after a hearing in Chicago, reported USA Today. The Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill., about 30 miles west of Chicago, reopened the day after the Sept. 20 attack but Garcia had been under evaluation for mental health issues at AMITA Health Behavioral Medicine Institute since his Sept. 20 arrest.
Directly after the incident, police said there was no indication of terrorism, that he wasn’t angry and that he appeared to have acted alone, CNN reported.
However, in the court hearing, investigators said he had staked out the mall beforehand. A search of Garcia’s cell phone history revealed that he had “searched Woodfield mall, the aerial view of the mall and mall premises 124 times between 9/19/19 at 14:38 - 9/20/19 at 12:55,” reported the Chicago ABC News affiliate, WLS-TV.
Moreover, he researched Sears 35 times, police said, with more than a dozen searches of the street and aerial pictures of the mall, reported WLS. To get inside, Garcia allegedly plowed through two sets of double glass doors leading into the department store.
Garcia had no criminal history, his defense attorney Amil Alkass told the Associated Press, adding that he takes psychiatric medications and is being treated for bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
Illinois law defines terrorism as “any act that causes substantial damage to any building containing five or more businesses of any type,” reported CNN. In addition it caused more than $100,000 in damage, another component of the definition, USA Today reported.
Havoc reigned when Garcia allegedly blasted through the doors near Sears in the mall, then drove deliberately through the common area, smacking into and wrecking as many kiosks and storefronts as he could, and eventually coming to rest at a pillar.
Shoppers were unhurt, though they found it jarring, and even terrifying.
“Chaos ensued among the patrons of the mall,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Annalee McGlone said during the bond hearing, according to AP. “Hysterical patrons were running and jumping in attempts to evade the vehicle’s path. Stores were locking their gates and sheltering people in the rear of stores for safety purposes.”
Garcia is charged with terrorism, a Class X felony, and criminal damage to property in excess of $100,000, according to a release from the Schaumburg Police Department. Police also said he was not targeting anyone in particular.