The driver of an SUV who crashed through the glass doors of the Sear’s department store in the Woodfield Mall has been charged with terrorism and could face twenty years in prison.
Javier Garcia, 22, was charged with domestic terrorism. The amount of damage he caused is over the $100,000 required to make the charge. No one was injured or killed. There are no federal charges pending at this time.
Despite the charge, investigators say there is no evidence Garcia was influenced by international or domestic terrorist groups and he is believed to have acted alone.
The police do not know the motive.
OBSESSIVE SEARCH FOR MALLS AND AN EX-TEACHER
According to CBS Chicago, Garcia searched online for “Woodfield Mall” at least 124 times, including for aerial views of the mall and its stores, including Sears. He specifically searched for Sears at least 35 times, the news station reports.
They also said it wasn’t pre-planned which appears to be contraindicated by the online searches.
While police said he was not targeting anyone in particular, prosecutors said an investigation of his cell phone revealed he had also searched for one of his former teachers 21 times, the Daily Herald reports. That former teacher is listed as a witness in the case. Prosecutors did not expand on why Garcia was searching the ex-teacher’s name.
After crashing through the glass doors of the Sear’s department store, Garcia careened at a very high rate of speed through the mall in the SUV, narrowly missing children, witnesses said.
HE MIGHT BE MENTALLY ILL
Garcia Has a History of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and paranoia according to his defense attorney.
Garcia’s attorney, Amil Alkass, said Garcia is “not a terrorist,” CBS Chicago reports. Alkass said Garcia has a history of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and paranoia. Alkass said he was surprised prosecutors filed the terrorism charge against his client because of his mental health history.
“There was nobody targeted,” Alkass told the Sun-Times. He called the terrorism charge “a little aggressive.”
It’s probably because he’s obviously very dangerous as the judge said when he was arraigned. The judge would not allow him out on bond.
Garcia lives with his father and sister, does not work or go to school.
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) September 29, 2019
Garcia has been observed by mental health professionals and released into the custody of Schaumberg police.
Garcia crashed through the mall on September 20th, miraculously not injuring anyone as he drove wildly through the mall, knocking over kiosks until customers stopped him and held him for police.
They arrested the guy that drove his SUV into Woodfield Mall pic.twitter.com/6cddJQCneD
— milo ☁️ (@IcedVenti) September 20, 2019
The incident took place on the lower level of the mall. Police arrived quickly.
A video posted to Twitter shows a black SUV driving past a Forever 21, and people running away.
So this just happened at Woodfield. I’m safe. Jesus Christ pic.twitter.com/fOfhtPkWvr
— ronin (@nipsfalloff) September 20, 2019
The car drove into woodfield through sears right passed my mom! Sooo scary! pic.twitter.com/bwm85RRr6T
— Nicole Doyle (@Nikkidoylee) September 20, 2019