A 63-year-old man remains in critical condition four days after an unprovoked attack at the Bellevue Transit Center that prosecutors say was committed by a man who was released from jail just 32 hours earlier.

King County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Gabriel Vargas-Garcia, 25, with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, accusing him of beating a stranger unconscious for no apparent reason in an attack captured on surveillance footage, according to charging papers. The charges include two aggravating factors: The assault was committed shortly after Vargas-Garcia was released from jail, and the victim, an amputee who uses a wheelchair, was particularly vulnerable and incapable of resistance.

Under state law, if a person is convicted of a crime and aggravating factors are proven to a jury, prosecutors are permitted to seek an exceptional sentence above the standard sentencing range.

Vargas-Garcia, whose last known address is in Renton, remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned July 27.

“The brutality of this attack is difficult to describe in words and appears to have been unprovoked,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brynn Jacobson wrote in charging papers. The papers state the victim was repeatedly punched in the face before falling out of his wheelchair, then was stomped, kicked and had his head smashed at least 13 times into a concrete walkway.

The man didn’t have a pulse when Bellevue police arrived at the scene Sunday, but medics revived him using a defibrillator, the charges said.


“At this point, the victim’s skull is fractured and he remains unconscious and intubated. His prognosis is currently unknown, and his condition has not improved since he was admitted to the hospital,” Jacobson wrote in charging papers filed Wednesday.

Vargas-Garcia was charged in November 2019 with second-degree rape, accused of plying a 16-year-old girl with alcohol and raping her, court records show. While in jail, he experienced his first psychotic episode and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and methamphetamine use disorder, the records say.

He pleaded guilty in May to a reduced charge of third-degree assault with sexual motivation and was sentenced in June to 15 months in jail, according to court records. Vargas-Garcia was released from jail July 8 with credit for time served.

At 12:21 a.m. Sunday, a woman who had been waiting for her sister to pick her up from the corner of 110th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 6th Street witnessed the attack on the 63-year-old man and called 911, charging papers said. She provided a dispatcher with a description of the assailant and later told police the man took off his shoes before fleeing the scene, according to the charges.

A pair of bloody sneakers was found about 15 feet from the victim’s wheelchair, according to the charges. Police obtained video footage of the assault and determined the beating lasted 1 1/2 minutes before the assailant boarded a Metro bus, according to the charges. Footage from the bus showed the man wasn’t wearing shoes and that he got off seconds later because the bus was going out of service, the charges said.

A woman who heard radio traffic about the assault and a description of the assailant during a ride-along with a Bellevue police officer later spotted a man walking without shoes toward a Target store on Northeast 4th Street, charging papers said. The woman called the officer she had shadowed earlier and reported the man’s location, leading to his arrest, the charges said.

The man, who was identified as Vargas-Garcia, had blood on his clothes, hands and feet, according to charging papers. He also had injuries to his hands and right foot consistent with punching and kicking someone, the papers said.