A California woman claims she beat a toddler with a crowbar because she “deserved it.” Maria Garate, age 20, is charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said the charges qualify as a hate crime, as the assault was racially motivated.
Authorities said the 4-year-old girl and her father were shopping at a San Jose Wal-Mart store. Garate, who is homeless, walked into the store with the crowbar hidden inside her bag.
Witnesses said the defendant approached the child, pulled out the crowbar, and struck her on the head. Although Garate attempted to hit the toddler a second time, her father intervened. The father was also struck with the crowbar. However, he managed to protect his daughter from further harm.
Wal-Mart security detained Garate until police arrived on scene. While in custody, the defendant reportedly stated that she beat the toddler with the crowbar because she “deserved it.”
San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol confirmed that the little girl was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Although she was seriously wounded, her injuries are not life-threatening.
Authorities said the defendant did not know the victim. However, they believe she singled her out because she is Asian. Deputy District Attorney Kalila Spain said the state has enough evidence to prove “the victims were targeted because they are Asian… this is a premeditated, willful, and deliberate act.”
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Garate told police she was disappointed that the 4-year-old was not killed in the attack. The defendant is currently being held in the Santa Clara County Jail without bond.
Although she had prior contact with police, Garate has never been convicted of a violent crime. Authorities refused to speculate on the condition of Garate’s mental health.
As reported by Mercury News, the San Jose Wal-Mart is located less than one mile from a homeless community called “The Jungle.” Although it was not confirmed, witnesses have speculated that the suspect may reside at the infamous encampment.
Last year, the same Wal-Mart store was the site of a similarly bizarre attack. On Easter Sunday 2013, 34-year-old Haamid Ade Zaid drove his car through the front window, left his vehicle, and attacked several customer with a “blunt object.”
It is unclear whether rage or mental illness prompted Maria Garate to beat the toddler with a crowbar. However, if convicted, she is facing life in prison.
[Image via Mercury News]