Caught this in my news alerts this morning: Tuesday morning, a 4-year-old girl and her father were shopping along with the girl’s mother at a San Jose-area Walmart when Maria Garate, 20, allegedly approached them and hit the child over the head with a metal object believed to be either a wrench or a tire iron.
The girl’s father intervened when the woman tried to take a second swing at the child, and was hit instead.
Walmart security detained Garate, and she was later arrested and arraigned on Thursday afternoon, charged with one count of attempted murder with a deadly weapon and one count of assault; both charges have hate crime enhancements.
Police say that based on interviews with the suspect that they have evidence to conclude the attack was racially motivated.
“Every parent’s worst nightmare” was how Deputy District Attorney Kalila Spain described the attack. She said Garate entered the store, off Story Road in the Little Saigon district, with a specific racial intent.
“Based on evidence we do have, the victims were targeted because they are Asian,” Spain said. “This is a premeditated, willful and deliberate act on her part.”
…A source told [the San Jose Mercury News] that the defendant expressed disappointment to interrogators that she did not injure the girl more severely.
The girl was taken to hospital, but has been released and is now recovering at home.
Police believe that Garate may be a resident of a local homeless encampment, and it’s possible that mental illness played a part in the attack. San Jose has among the nations’ highest homeless population, and studies show that as many as 1 in 4 of America’s homeless suffer untreated or underaddressed mental illness. This case strongly demonstrates this country’s need to provide additional healthcare services and social programs to support America’s transient population.