It could have been much worse.
That’s what the father of a four-year-old boy who was attacked last week by a man at a grocery store in Granger is reminding himself.
“I’m glad he didn’t have a weapon -- a knife, a baseball bat or anything like that.”
The frightening scene played out in front of dozens of shoppers at the Martin’s Super Market on S.R. 23, near Bittersweet. A police source tells WSBT that on Tuesday, around 8:15 p.m., a man who appeared “paranoid and delusional” hit the four-year-old boy in the checkout lanes.
WSBT spoke with the boy’s family today about the incident.
His father, who asked not to be identified to protect his family, says when he first heard his son crying he thought he had hurt himself on the shopping cart. It wasn’t until he saw security had a man on the ground that he realized his son was punched.
“[My son] usually finds a way to hurt himself whenever we are at the grocery store. Nobody saw the actual attack except my older son. So when I heard him crying, I thought that he had managed to bang himself into the shopping cart again,” the father says.
The suspect, 25-year-old Eric Parks, was quickly subdued by security and store management.
“[Martin’s] was very responsive when the incident initially happened. By the time I could react security already had the gentleman on the ground.”
The father says the man who punched his son “seemed coherent” but he kept repeating the same sentence over and over.
“He kept saying loudly, ‘I’ve been a sex slave for 25 years and slave to the government,’” the father tells WSBT.
The boy was awake and alert after the attack, but understandably shaken. His father says he has some bruising around his forehead, face and nose, but no damage was done to his eye.
“He has no permanent damage to his eye, but he has been having a lot of nightmares for the past couple of days.”
Court documents show that Parks was arrested and charged with Battery, a class D felony, as well as Intimidation of Law Enforcement, also a class D felony. He's being held on a $1 million bond.
The boy’s father says he’s thankful the situation wasn’t any worse.
“I’m glad the situation was no more than what it was, but you can’t stop a person who is disturbed from walking into a place when they have malicious thoughts and I’m glad it was no more than what it was.”
According to our newsgathering partners at the South Bend Tribune, Parks allegedly admitted to police that he used synthetic marijuana earlier on the day of the attack.
Police say they also found threatening posts on Parks' Facebook page about children and the president.
Parks is due in court on Monday.