Victim of nearly fatal stabbing in San Antonio questions judge’s decision to let suspect out on bail

Suspect David Garcia, 38, was already out on bail for another violent attack in 2017

SAN ANTONIO – Ryan Shows said he was just dropping something off at work when he was viciously attacked and nearly killed earlier this year. Weeks later, he learned the man accused of repeatedly stabbing him was out on bail for a previous alleged violent attack.

"I didn't realize I had been stabbed. I thought I had just been punched," Ryan Shows said. "Turned out he got me twice in the shoulder, once in the back of the neck and once in the face."

Shows said he just dropped off some trash cans at the bar he manages and when he returned to his truck parked in the 400 block of East Travis downtown, he found all four of his tires slashed. Minutes before, Shows said a man had confronted him about parking in a no loading zone.

“This guy comes up and starts knocking on my window and I rolled it down and he’s like, ‘Hey, man, you can’t be parked here. They’re going to tow you,’” Shows recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, you know what? It’s my vehicle, not yours. So if it gets towed, it’s on me.’ And I got out and walked inside.”

While Shows was inspecting the damaged tires and talking to his insurance company on the phone, the suspect returned. Witnesses would tell police the man was holding a large knife in his hand.

“I heard someone say, ‘Hey, there he is.’ Well, I turned around and I grabbed him when he walked behind me, I grabbed him by his arm,” Shows said. “And I was just like, ‘Hey, you’re not going anywhere,’ and then that’s when everything happened.”

The knife attack left Shows critically wounded. He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to stop the bleeding.

The surgeon who operated on Shows told his wife, Rose Rodriguez, just how lucky he was.

“It was pretty horrific. She said he was extremely lucky and his injuries were life-threatening,” Rodriguez said. “She said it was almost an artery that was hit. She said if it was somebody that was smaller or not in as good as shape, they would have just bled to death on the street.”

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The suspect ran away from the scene but witnesses who had been hanging out with him earlier identified him as 38-year-old David Garcia, a man with a history of being arrested for drugs, theft, deadly conduct, injury to the disabled and at the time of the attack he was out on bail for another violent assault from 2017.

In August of that year, Garcia was arrested after he allegedly got into an argument with bouncers who were trying to close a North Side strip club. According to a police report, Garcia tried to run over two bouncers in the parking lot.

One was hit by Garcia’s open car door, another was dragged 20 feet as Garcia attempted to flee. Onlookers and employees were able to subdue Garcia and held him until officers arrived.

While he was arrested that night, it wasn’t until 18 months later that Garcia was hit with two felony indictments for assault with a deadly weapon.

Unable to make the $75,000 bond, he sat in jail for 5 months. As he awaited his day in court, Garcia filed several handwritten legal motions seeking to fire his court appointed lawyer, demanding to be freed from jail, have his case dismissed and his bond reduced.

In some of those handwritten motions, Garcia, a military veteran, claimed “he is a guardian of freedom and the American way of life” and stated he “has 3 general orders to follow” including “guarding everything within the limits of my post” and “only quitting my post when properly relieved.”

In another filing, Garcia also said he was a 100% disabled combat veteran with a diagnosis of PTSD with schizoaffective disorder.

According to court documents reviewed by the Defenders, in May and June of 2019 Judge Jennifer Pena of the 290th District Court ordered a mental health assessment to see if Garcia was competent to stand trial and she reduced his bond to $50,000 with the condition he submit to monthly drug and alcohol screenings and not contact with the victims from the 2017 case.

By July, Garcia came up with the money and was back on the streets. But then the nearly two-year-old case seemed to grind to a halt. That mental health evaluation that was ordered never happened.

Seven months later, Garcia was involved in that near fatal stabbing of Ryan Shows which put his case back in front of Judge Pena.

Once again, the judge gave Garcia bail and he was released, much to his accuser’s astonishment.

"I'm not happy about it. I'm not happy about it at all," Shows said. "I do question on the facts of what was their reasoning behind thinking that it was OK to let this guy out."

Judge Pena said she couldn’t comment on the specifics of the case because it’s still pending in her court.

She said her decision to grant Garcia bond was based entirely on a single page document known as a violation report.

It shows Garcia’s original crime, his bond and that he hadn’t completed the mental health evaluation. While the report shows the new crime he’s accused of was another assault with a deadly weapon, it doesn’t include a detailed description of what happened.

When questioned about the case, Pena said, “Based on the circumstances that were presented to me at the time and the violation report in the order, I felt that what I did was appropriate.”

Shows and his wife disagree and with the courts virtually shut down due to coronavirus all they can do is wait for the wheels of justice to turn and worry about what David Garcia might do next.

“I wanted people to know that this man is out there and it seems like he continues to, you know, just kind of slip through the cracks,” Rose Rodriguez said.

Shows hopes things will be set right when he gets his day in court.

“I can’t change what’s happened. I can’t worry about what’s going to happen,” Shows said. “All I can sit here and do basically is just worry about today and be thankful that I’m still here.”

When the Defenders went to Garcia’s home to get his side of the story, he said through a window that he had no comment.

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About the Authors:

Tim Gerber is an investigative reporter and anchor on the KSAT Defenders team.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.