A 23-year-old Bronx man was indicted Tuesday for attempted murder in the first degree and other charges in connection to a knife attack at a public school in the Bronx last month, according to the Bronx District Attorney's Office.
Claudio Villar is facing a litany of charges included attempted murder in the first degree, attempted murder in the second degree, attempted assault in the first degree, attempted assault on a peace officer, police officer, fireman, or emergency medical services profession, three counts of assault in the second degree, two counts of attempted assault in the second degree, three counts of assault in the third degree, menacing in the second degree, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, according to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.
Bail was set at $250,000 and Villar is due back in court on Aug. 17. Attorney information for Villar was not immediately known.
The charges are in connection to an attack that took place on April 14 at PS 69, also known as Journey Prep. Although school was not in session on that day, according to the district attorney's office, there were some students, as well as staff in the building. Allegedly, on that day, just before the school day started, Villar went to the school to look for someone he was dating.
According to the investigation, Villar allegedly chased the woman he was dating down the hallway and started to punch her. It was at that point that a school safety agent and a teacher tried to stop the attack when they were allegedly slashed with a knife. The teacher was slashed in the arm and the school safety agent was slashed in the neck. The woman, teacher and safety agent were subsequently treated for their injuries at a local hospital.
Villar fled the scene following the attack, according to the district attorney's office. He later turned himself into police.
Following the attack, the Bronx school safety agent who was slashed in the head said that's he'd make the exact same split-second decision again if he could.
Parents, administrators and even Mayor Eric Adams called the actions of Hector Garcia heroic, as he intervened to save an educator inside PS 69, Journey Prep School, and thwarted an attack from the suspect.
But the 55-year-old Garcia's first thought was not about his safety, it was about the students.
"I call them my children, my kids," he told NBC New York. "I thank God there was no children and little kids around."
The incident occurred around 7:40 a.m. at the school on Theiriot Avenue, when Garcia heard a "commotion" come over his radio just minutes before children were due to arrive Thursday morning. Garcia went to help, and saw a counselor struggling against a man.
"I see the counselor…on the floor, crying," he said. "Then the teach came by, Mr. Nash, and broke them up from fighting, then he starting fighting with the perp."
When Garcia, a 27-year veteran of the force, tried to pull the suspect off the teacher, that's when he said the suspect — later identified as Claudio Villar — lashed out.
"When he aimed, I bent down and he caught me up here instead of here," he said pointing first behind his ear, then pointing to his neck, believing the attacker intended to go for his throat. "I think he was trying to aim for the main artery."
Garcia believes that one quick shift saved his life, leaving him with a deep puncture wound behind his ear.
"He was infuriated…he wanted to kill somebody," he said.
Garcia, who said he spent 10 days in the hospital in 2020 with a serious bout of COVID-19, said he believes "God saved me again." He said he loves his job, but admits that in more than two decades at the school, things appear to be getting worse.
"As time goes by, we notice that the violence has been going up," Garcia said.
The violence at the school came less than a week after an honor student died and two other students were wounded in a drive-by shooting outside a high school in the same borough. The latest incident has local advocates calling for more support.
"This recent incident highlights why we need to have a full contingent of school safety agents," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said at the time of the slashing. "We are down at least 2,000 safety agents from where we should be. Today, we are grateful to the teacher and school safety agent at PS 69 for stepping in to protect their colleague and thankful that no one was more seriously injured."
Garcia wants more to be done and to get more support, and NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks agrees.
"This is not how we should be spending our days. And it's been day after day after day of madness," Banks said.