A man who was seriously wounded by a hatchet-wielding attacker at an ATM in Manhattan has told he begged people in the street outside for help – as horrifying photos emerged of the bloody aftermath of Sunday’s attack.
Miguel Solorzano, 50, had just gotten off his shift cooking meals at a luxury getaway on Governor’s Island and went to deposit his check at a Chase Bank ATM on Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District when a man started swinging a hatchet at him.
‘He didn’t even rob me,’ Solorzano told the New York Daily News in Spanish on Wednesday. ‘He took nothing. Nothing. He was crazy.’
He added: ‘There were a lot of people in the street. I yelled “Help, help, help!” Another person talked to the police and another doctor came.’
Photos emerged on Thursday of the immediate aftermath of the assault as Solorzano sat, covered in blood, on the sidewalk while medics tended to him before he was put on a gurney and taken to hospital.
Police arrested 37-year-old military veteran Aaron Garcia in the attack late Tuesday night, when they found him smashing car and storefront windows with a hammer.
He underwent psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital, before being charged with attempted murder and assault.
Authorities said on Wednesday that Garcia was already wanted by Yonkers Police, who have an active arrest warrant out on him for a February 15 assault, and four active bench warrants for failure to appear in court.
Authorities wrapped Solorzano’s head in bandages as blood dripped down his face following the assault on Sunday night
Solorzano, 50, was transported to Bellevue Hospital, where he is still recovering
City police officers responded to the scene, speaking to Solorzano who sat bleeding on the sidewalk outside of the Chase Bank in lower Manhattan
New York City police have charged Aaron Garcia, 37, of Yonkers with attempted murder and assault in connection to a Sunday evening hatchet attack caught on video at a bank in lower Manhattan. He is pictured in a previous mugshot.
Garcia had three prior arrests in 2020 stemming from charges of harassment, aggravated harassment, stalking and criminal contempt, Yonkers police said.
A close relative, who asked not to be named, said Garcia had previously served in the Army, and was not the same after his return from deployment to Iraq, the New York Daily News reported.
‘He was a little off-center. He was in combat. All he would say is “I saw dead bodies,”‘ the relative told the outlet.
Surveillance footage of the incident Sunday night shows Solorzano at the ATM at around 5.20 pm, when the suspect – later identified by police as Garcia – pulled out a hatchet from a dark bag and walks up behind him.
Garcia, of Yonkers, then repeatedly hits Solorzano with the hatchet as the victim desperately tries to defend himself.
Once the assailant is finished attacking Solorzano, he proceeds to smash the ATM screens before walking away, but not before leaving the hatchet and his backpack behind, police said.
Video captured the shocking moment Solorazano is slashed with a hatchet while using an ATM at a Chase Bank in downtown Manhattan at 5.30pm Sunday
The attacker – later identified as Aaron Garcia – then suddenly walks up behind Solorzano and begins swinging his weapon in the violent attack
Terrified and bloodied, Solorzano desperately tries to grab the weapon away from his attacker
Eventually, Solorazano, severely bloodied, flees, and his attacker does not follow. Police say they have the charged Garcia with assault and attempted murder in connection to the attack
After Solorzana been driven off, the attacker proceeds to smash the ATM screens one by one before walking away. He was reportedly caught Tuesday night
Solorzano said he had noticed Garcia – an Iraq War veteran who has reportedly struggled with mental illness – sitting outside the bank when he entered, but did not pay him any attention.
‘I saw him,’ he told the Daily News. ‘I didn’t know, I didn’t know.
‘I went to put the check in – one check,’ he recalled. ‘I was going to get more money, but the man hit me.’
‘It was so bloody,’ Solorzano said. ‘He hit me so many times, like this,’ he said, as he held up his arms to show how he tried to fight off the attacker.
‘There were a lot of people in the street,’ he recounted. ‘I yelled “Help, help, help!” Another person talked to the police and another doctor came.’
Photos obtained by DailyMail.com of the aftermath of the incident show Solorzano with blood streaming down his face and staining his previously white shirt red.
Authorities on the scene could be seen wrapping his head in bandages and loading him onto a stretcher, as he appears to try to tell police what had happened.
Solorzano, who lives in Corona, suffered three slash wounds to the head and another to his right leg, New York City police officials reported.
He was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he remains after undergoing two surgeries.
He said he has been feeling better every day since the incident, but the Daily News reports, he still seemed to be in a great deal of pain, and his friend, Carlos, said he wasn’t himself yet.
‘He’s not OK,’ Carlos said. ‘He has some problems speaking and hearing.’
‘He works a lot,’ Carlos added. ‘He’s very hardworking – doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke.’
They bandaged him up and put him in a stretcher for his injuries to his head and leg
Solorzano said he moved to the United States from Mexico 12 years ago to earn money for his children’s education. He said he speaks to them every day and was looking forward to his wife coming to visit once he was feeling better.
‘The wife, she’s not well,’ Carlos said, adding her response to the news of the attack ‘was terrible.’
Solorzano remains in stable condition, police said.
Meanwhile, Garcia, was arrested at around 9.20pm Tuesday in Chelsea, where police said he went on a rampage starting at around 8pm.
As he walked past Elmo’s restaurant on 7th Avenue near 20th Street, he allegedly ran into a 54-year-old man, and raised the hammer as if to hit him, but ran off, the New York Daily News reported.
Chelsea cops said Garcia then smashed a window at Rebar Chelsea, a gay bar on 7th Avenue and West 19th Street and a nearby bus stop before he was finally apprehended around the corner, according to the outlet.
Garcia is also suspected of another assault in Lower Manhattan earlier this month, when he allegedly kicked someone on South Street on August 3, around 6.20pm, the New York Post reported.
Earlier that day at around noon, he is alleged to have pointed a knife at a bystander on Pine Street, who had yelled at him for urinating in public.
Garcia was allegedly seen on surveillance footage stabbing Solorzano. His mother said he had been suffering from mental health issues since he returned from Iraq in 2009
His mother, Sarah Garcia, 64, said he has been having mental health issues since he returned from Iraq in 2009.
‘A few years after he came back, he started showing signs of decline,’ she told the New York Post, noting that he received some mental health treatment from a Veterans’ Affairs hospital, but it did not help.
‘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,’ she told the Post. ‘But he was always articulate that way.’
She said she wanted Aaron to go to college, but ‘the recruiters were banging on the doors at his school, and he was one of the ones who was interested.
‘We tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted.’
He enlisted in 2002, and after he returned from a tour in Iraq, Sarah said, he started believing there was a looming natural disaster.
‘For a while, he was talking about some volcano that was going to erupt in Yellowstone, and he wanted me to pack along with the good people I have around me and go some place safe,’ she recounted.
‘He was telling me, “Ma, you’ve got to pack, you’ve got to go.” He was getting agitated. I said, “No boy, you’re crazy,” and the word “crazy” didn’t go well. He skipped out from being around me.’
Sarah claims she has not seen Aaron in about a year, and ‘at this stage, I don’t know what will become of him.
‘I kept praying and praying that he would knock on the door and I would beg him to get help,’ she said, adding that Aaron was never ‘a street kid. He used to be the guy who’d get some excitement going in the house because we’re boring.’
She also said the crime ‘ doesn’t reflect the son that I raised, the person that I knew.’
‘I can’t say the Army is the reason, but I know that he was having trouble,’ she said, telling the Post: ‘He was supposed to be on his way to doing good in school, and I was really rooting for him to make the grade and go out and be the man I wanted him to be, but somewhere along the way, he started losing it.
‘I wanted to help him, but I couldn’t so he’s been on his own,’ she said. ‘And I see now, this is where we are.’
Sarah called the attack Sunday ‘tragic,’ saying she could not make an excuse for her son. ‘No human being would want to see this happen to a dog, much less a human being,’ she said. ‘I’m truly saddened, and troubled, of course.’
‘This can’t be true,’ another relative told the Daily News. ‘If you knew what kind of people we are, you would understand why I’m reacting this way.’
‘I can’t imagine he’s gone that far. Nobody told us anything . . . I can’t imagine that would be linked to us. I don’t understand.’
Chase released a statement on the incident, saying it had assisted with the investigation.
‘We shared the video of this senseless attack with police and continue to work with them on their investigation,’ a spokeswoman said.
‘We’ve reached out to our customer and his family, and share their hopes for continued recovery.’
The smashed ATMs (pictured) seen in the aftermath of the brutal attack
Chase officials have said they are cooperating with the authorities in the investigation
The attack comes amid a growing crime wave in the Big Apple, with more and more assaults happening in broad daylight.
On Friday, an aspiring actor who once appeared as an extra on Law & Order was shot dead in a Bronx deli.
Jayquan Lewis, 21, was standing at the cashier counter at BH gourmet Deli in Fordham at 4pm when another man collapsed to the floor, in a 14-second clip published by the New York Post.
Another person standing next to Lewis at the counter on his phone is seen fleeing out of frame.
After fatally shooting Lewis the gunman appears to casually walk out of the deli.
Lewis was shot three times in the chest, three times in the arm and one time in the stomach. He was pronounced dead at St Barnabas Hospital.
Police are still looking for the killer, whose motive is unknown.
And just one week before, two people died with one victim severely injured in two separate but ‘likely connected’ shootings in Brooklyn.
Crime rates throughout New York City have been increasing over last year
The gunman shot three men sitting in a car that the NYPD said was damaged in a car accident on August 8 around 12.30am, and then opened fire at a party of 100 to 150 people at an event space down the block.
Two of the men in the car died – Bronx resident Nicholas Palmer and Queens resident Novada Bailey, both 36. A third unidentified man was critically injured.
At least two other people were also shot and injured during the incident, with one person rushed to the hospital and another driving himself to a hospital about 24 miles away in Westchester County.
According to NYPD data, felony assaults are up 5.3 percent from last year, as of August 15, with misdemeanor assaults up 2.1 percent.
Murders have also increased, from 275 reported during the same time frame in 2020 to 277 reported thus far in 2021.
There have also been 10.7 percent more shooting incidents, with 7 percent more victims.
And grand larcenies have also increased 1.6 percent, with grand larcenies from automobiles skyrocketing 20.2 percent.
Rapes have increased 8.6 percent and hate crimes have nearly doubled.
Despite these staggering statistics, Mayor Bill de Blasio proudly proclaimed that the ‘Safe Summer’ program has been effective and said in July the NYPD curved violent crime
Despite these staggering statistics, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this month that his ‘Safe Summer’ program has driven down murder and gun attacks in the city.
The mayor debuted the Safe Summer program in April as a way to end gun violence by creating disincentives for young people looking to turn to guns by offering them positive alternatives.
At a press briefing on August 5, de Blasio proudly proclaimed that the program has been effective and said in the month of July the NYPD saw ‘extraordinary successes’ to curve violent crime.
Listing statistics from July, de Blasio noted that the NYPD made 383 gun arrests in July alone, up 133.5 percent compared to last July, the mayor said, while gun arrests in general have gone up 44.5 percent in 2021.
According to the mayor, the summer month of July is usually one of the most violent in the city but the NYPD ‘rose to the challenge’ and was able to suppress gun violence and executed an impressive number of gang takedowns.
‘The gang takedowns mean taking a lot of bad guys off of the streets and at the same time a lot of shooters off the streets, this is crucial,’ de Blasio noted.
Overall since the safe summer program was launched in May, murders have gone down 26 percent, shootings decreased 10 percent and shooting victims are down 11 percent.
‘There is more to do,’ he said, ‘but the NYPD is moving and making an impact.’