By Alicia Banks | Los Angeles Times
A woman faces charges, including hate crime allegations, after allegedly striking a 4-year-old girl in the head at a Wal-Mart in San Jose, police said Thursday.
The woman, identified as transient Maria Garate, was booked into the Santa Clara County jail without incident after Tuesday’s attack, said an official with the San Jose Police Department.
Garate faces charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Both charges carry a hate crime allegation. Evidence suggests Garate targeted the family because they are Asian, the district attorney’s office said.
Garate did not enter a plea at a court appearance Thursday, said Sean Webby, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office.
The girl and her father were shopping at the store when Garate entered, approached the family and hit the girl, sitting in the shopping cart, with a crowbar, police said. The father intervened when Garate tried to swing it again, taking the blow to protect his daughter.
Garate had hidden the crowbar in a duffel bag, the district attorney’s office said.
Later, KTVU talked to customers, who expressed disgust and disbelief that anyone would attack a young girl.
“If somebody hits my kid, I’m going after them… I don’t care where it’s at,” said one man, who wondered if the girl would suffer brain damage.
The girl was taken to a hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol said.
KTVU also reported that when police took Garate into custody, she allegedly told investigators she was upset that the child did not die.
Garate was being held without bail, and her next court appearance is scheduled for May 23.
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