Update: September 29, 2019: The driver, Javier Garcia, 22, was charged with domestic terrorism. That amount of damage is likely over the $100,000 required to make the charge. No one was injured or killed. The police do not know the motive. 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.
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.
While police said he was not targeting anyone, 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, he narrowly missed children, witnesses said.
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.”
Garcia lives with his father and sister, does not work or go to school.
The judge said he is a danger to the community and will not be allowed out on bond.
— Marissa Parra (@MarParNews) September 29, 2019
Garcia has been observed by mental health professionals and released into the custody of Schumberg police.
A driver was taken into custody after a car drove through Woodfield Mall Friday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. Miraculously, there were no injuries. He crashed through a store and knocked over kiosks, inflicting other damage.
They arrested the guy that drove his SUV into Woodfield Mall pic.twitter.com/6cddJQCneD
— milo ☁️ (@IcedVenti) September 20, 2019
Police were on the scene at the Schaumburg mall around 2:30 p.m. after witnesses said a black SUV drove through Sears, striking kiosks. The incident took place on the lower level of the mall.
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
Schaumburg police said no injuries were reported. Police also said there was no evidence of an active shooter.
The Chicago FBI said they were aware of the incident and are assisting local law enforcement. They said there was no threat to public safety.