LANTANA, Fla. – A man accused of partially severing a woman's hand with a chainsaw outside a South Florida motel told authorities "the chemicals inside his brain went off," prompting him to attack her at random, police said.
Juan Carlos Cabrera Jr., 20, faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder in connection with Tuesday's attack near the Super 8 motel on Hypoluxo Road in Lantana.
Several witnesses called 911 to report the attack.
According to a Lantana police report, Marie Geffrard, 64, was out for her morning walk when she saw a man carrying a chainsaw. She assumed he was trimming trees and walked past the entrance to the motel when the man, later identified as Cabrera, "started hitting her and cutting her with the chainsaw."
Cabrera remained at the scene when police arrived.
After his arrest, Cabrera was questioned by Officer Thomas Dipolito, who asked him why he attacked Geffrard.
Cabrera, who told police he "cuts trees" for a living, said he had "a mental breakdown" and has a history of mental illness, Dipolito wrote in the police report.
Cabrera said he lives with his mother in Lake Worth but decided to get away and spend the night. Cabrera told Dipolito he was lying in bed and the chemicals inside his brain went off.
"He couldn't explain if anything triggered it," Dipolito wrote.
Cabrera said he got the chainsaw from his father and had it in the trunk of his car, so he got it out, cranked it up and walked toward the sidewalk, where he spotted Geffrard.
He said Geffrard was "the target most attractive to his eyes," Dipolito wrote.
Cabrera explained that "it was just an attack" and that he wanted to end her life, but the chainsaw "got jammed up," Dipolito wrote.
When asked if he wanted to apologize to Geffrard, Cabrera showed no remorse.
"I have nothing to say to her," Cabera said, according to the report.
Dipolito said surveillance video from the motel showed Cabrera randomly attacking Geffrard.
Geffrard's left hand was partially severed in the attack. She was taken to Delray Medical Center in Delray Beach, where she underwent emergency surgery to try to save her hand.
While Cabrera was in his holding cell, he also attacked an officer who tried to give him some crackers to eat, police said. Cabrera grabbed the cell door key from the officer's hand and hit the officer in the face with the key's wooden handle, according to the report.
Another officer used a Taser gun on Cabrera to subdue him, and Cabrera was placed in a restraint chair until he was moved to the county jail, Dipolito wrote.
Police searched Cabrera's motel room and found cocaine and marijuana inside. Cabrera also faces charges of drug possession and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer.
A Palm Beach County judge ordered that Cabrera be held without bond.