SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – A 22-year-old man accused of driving through Woodfield Mall will face felony terrorism charges, prosecutors announced Sunday.
Officials say Javier Garcia smashed a black SUV through Sears and into the mall on September 20, creating a panic as people ran for safety. Garcia was arrested on the scene.
Police said they believe he was not targeting any specific person or business. No major injuries were reported after the chaotic scene.
"He was just quiet, head down, walking straight,” a witness told WGN. "Not somebody wild, screaming. No chanting. Not any of those things you'd expect of somebody crazy."
After his arrest, Garcia was placed in a mental health facility. He was released to Schaumburg police on Friday. Following an investigation, police said they believe Garcia acted alone, although they did not suggest a motive.
During a bond hearing Sunday, prosecutors said new details suggest the act was planned. They said an examination of Garcia's search history revealed that he'd searched for Woodfield Mall, including aerial views of the mall, 124 times.
Garcia has now been charged with terrorism and criminal damage to property, and remains in jail after a judge denied him bond Sunday.
His attorneys say he has a history of mental health issues, and called the charges "aggressive."
"It’s a little surprising given the nature of the defendant we have here. Mr Garcia is not a terrorist has never had an issue with the law before. This is the first time he’s even been involved with the police," attorney Amil Alkass said.