NEW YORK, NY – The mother of a military veteran who stands accused of a horrific, unprovoked hatchet attack in lower Manhattan on Sunday said that her son had succumbed to “pure madness” as a result of PTSD suffered while in combat.
The attack, which was caught on surveillance video, showed Aaron Garcia, 37, walk into a Chase Bank on Broadway near Beaver Street in the Financial District, remove a hatchet from a backpack, and use it to attack a random 51 year-old ATM customer, cops say. The victim suffered multiple wounds while attempting to defend himself and is currently in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Garcia was later caught and arrested by police Tuesday evening while he was allegedly smashing car windows near 19th Street and Seventh Avenue, according to officials.
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Garcia’s mother, Sarah, 64, said that her son was a six-year veteran of the U.S. Army, and his last tour of duty was in Iraq; upon returning, he “started showing signs of decline.”
“At first, I thought he was just being obnoxious. He’d put the blame on me for not realizing that he didn’t go into the Boy Scouts, he went into the Army, seeing dead bodies,” she said, noting that mental-health treatment her son received at a Veterans Administration hospital was ineffective. “I would bring it up, saying, ‘What is it the doctor told you?’ He’d say, ‘They think they’re evaluating me, but I’m evaluating them.’ You know, pure madness.”
Garcia has been charged with attempted murder and assault; Sarah noted that her son’s attack on the victim was “tragic” and that she couldn’t make any excuses for him, saying “I’m truly saddened and troubled, of course.”