Suspect in hammer assault at Safford High School undergoing competency tests

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Juan Garcia has been arraigned on assault charges after allegedly striking a co-worker in the head with a hammer and kicking him in his face in an unprovoked attack. The court is determining if Garcia is competent to stand trial.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – During a remodel construction job at the Safford High School over the summer, one of the workers severely injured another with a hammer. 

The man arrested for the assault, Juan R. Garcia, 37, of Safford, was arraigned July 26 on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or instrument. However, a Rule 11 Evaluation has also been filed, and the prosecution and court now await to see if Garcia is competent to stand trial, and if not, if he can be restored to competency to answer for his alleged crime. 

On July 7, a Safford officer was dispatched at about 1:18 p.m. to the Safford High School regarding an assault. Upon arrival, the officer was told the victim had fallen off a ladder and another worker had kicked him while he was on the ground. 

A construction supervisor then said that the suspect, Garcia, told him that he struck the victim in the head with a hammer, causing the fall. Afterward, Garcia was seen walking up to the victim and kicking him in his face while he was on the ground.

Other workers then intervened and the victim was taken to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center and then flown to University Medical Center – Phoenix for a fractured skull and an orbital fracture, according to the report. 

An officer located Garcia at his residence and Garcia allegedly admitted to the assault and said spirits told him to do it. The officer noted that he has observed five other incidents involving Garcia as the suspect for random assaults on people for unprovoked reasons other than Garcia hearing voices prompting him to do so.  

Garcia was then arrested for aggravated assault and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility.