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Bellevue’s Homeless Community Reeling After Attack On One of Their Own

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Looking at the graphic photos and aftermath of this brutal beatdown is difficult even for the most hardened law enforcement veterans..

“This kind of cruelty is absolutely unacceptable. Investigators, prosecutors, who have seen the worst of the worst in people look at this case and are heartbroken,” says Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. 

These photos show 63 year old Eric Larson intubated with a fractured skull, unable to speak, and fighting for his life in the hospital. 

Prosecutors say Larson is homeless and uses a wheelchair. Early Sunday morning at the Bellevue Transit Center in downtown, police say 25 year old Gabriel Vargas-Garcia  assaulted him. 

“This was an unprovoked attack,” says McNerthney. 

Authorities say Vargas-Garcia approached Larson, then unloaded a series of punches and kicks, eventually smashing his head into the concrete numerous times. This ordeal lasted nearly 2 minutes. 

Congregations for the Homeless is the largest men’s shelter on the Eastside. The residents say Larson was a regular here and one of their own.  

“That is just totally uncalled for it gets me furious,” says Elton Parker, who is also staying at the shelter. 

Shelter leaders would not comment on this case for privacy reasons. But Jesse See, who’s also homeless,  says this incident has shaken the community and he will now be taking precautions. 

 “Watch my back more,” says See. 

Vargas-Garcia was eventually arrested a few blocks away. he’s now facing 1st degree attempted murder and assault charges. 

Prosecutors say he’s also a repeat offender, pleading guilty last year to sexual assault of a minor. After serving time for that, he was released from prison just two days before this alleged attack. 

“And less than 48 hours so brutally attack somebody with a level of cruelty that’s hard for a reasonable person to even imagine,” says McNerthney. 

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.