A brokenhearted Linda Garcia cannot believe that her son would attempt to torch a church, and stressed to NBC 4 New York that he has been diagnosed bipolar and hasn't been taking his medication.
"It's not in his character," she said Thursday. "He's never done anything like this before."
Michael Garcia, 28, walked into the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in Manhattan Tuesday morning with a canister of gasoline, doused the floor and ignited it, according to the hate-crime charges filed against him.
A church custodian smelled smoke and traced the odor to a door, which opened to a room of flames. The custodian called 911 and summoned other employees to help stamp out the fire.
Police nabbed Garcia a few blocks away.
His mother told NBC 4 New York that her son attended Boy Scouts troop meetings at the same church he targeted and is incapable of committing a hate crime.
"That word practically doesn't exist in my son's mind," she said. "Michael embraces everybody."
Her son wasn't a member of Fort Washington Collegiate Church, but has a deep faith in Christianity, she said.
Garcia said her son was diagnosed as bipolar three years ago. He is between doctors and off his medication, she added.
"What I want to hope is that he gets the proper care," she said. "He is a special person. He is a good, kind person."
Michael Garcia is scheduled to appear in court Friday. His mother said she will be there to support him.