Pinellas Park police have arrested a man they believe brutally attacked a maintenance worker at an apartment complex nearly seven months ago, leaving him for dead.
Detectives said a tip over the weekend led them to Eliezer Garcia, 24, who lives in the same complex, in a unit directly across from where the crime happened.
Don McPherson, 63, said he had stopped by the Lauren Manor Apartments in April to do maintenance on a unit.
"When I opened it up, there was a guy standing there," McPherson said.
Investigators said that man was Garcia, who was burglarizing the apartment, before attacking McPherson, hitting him in the head and back multiple times.
The victim said he didn't see it coming.
"Didn't hear anything, didn't feel anything," he said, adding had a friend not stopped by and spotted him after the attack, he likely would have died. "If I'd have been out for another hour, I don't think I would have made it."
Sgt. Adam Geissenberger, a spokesperson for the Pinellas Park Police Department, said after two visits with Garcia, he admitted to everything.
Garcia's charges include robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary, but more charges could come.
"For the community and for the police department, tremendous," Geissenberger said. "Any time you have an attack like this that leaves somebody helpless, it's unnerving."
McPherson said he's glad his suspected attacker is off the streets.
"I felt good about it because I didn't want him out hurting anybody else," he said, adding the ordeal has left him with a newfound appreciation for life. "Just glad to be alive ... you think every day it's just another day. All of a sudden it hits you that this could be it."
Police said that following his arrest, Garcia wrote McPherson an apology letter. Geissenberger said the victim appreciated it but still wants his attacker locked up for a long time.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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