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Homeless Veteran Violently Attacks Elderly Women At Phoenix IHOP

Police released horrifying surveillance footage of two elderly women at an IHOP in Phoenix being brutally attacked by a man with a coffee pot. The suspect, Joe Ernest Meza, 47, is a veteran with mental illness and a criminal record, left to live on the streets. Meza was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with the intent to cause injury, and a count of theft and of disorderly conduct each. 

The footage is a harrowing has spawned conversations about the need to better assist veterans with mental illnesses when they return from combat.

The surveillance footage shows two women eating at an IHOP, when a man in a red shirt and sunglasses starts beating one woman’s skull with a coffee pot.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

On Sept. 29, a family with an infant and young child, and two women went to the IHOP on 51st Avenue and McDowell in Phoenix, Arizona, expecting a regular day. Prior to Meza entering the scene, it appears as if everyone is having a normal conversation on a Tuesday. Suddenly, Meza grabs the coffee pot from the table pictured above and starts violently beating two elderly women with the pot.

As the woman tries to defend herself, her friend flees for cover.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

The woman tries to cover her head, but he continues to beat her four times over the head. He stops only after she starts kicking him to create distance. CCTV footage shows her friend fleeing to the kitchen where she stands behind a cook until the ordeal is over.

Gripping her head, the victim tries to flee, but Meza continues to target her.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza appears to back away after she attempts to defend herself, but as she gets up to flee, he starts approaching her again. The restaurant is not empty and onlookers watched in shock as the attack occurred.

As the woman tries to flee, Meza picks up another coffee pot as a weapon.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Gripping her head, she starts to walk around the back of the booth and down another aisle. Meza remains focused on her, and picks up another coffee pot, intimidating her as she runs out the store. Meza remains just a few steps behind. CCTV footage shows other families fleeing out the back exit as he moves to the other side of the store.

Later, we see the victim with an apparent head wound, blood streaming down her face.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

It seems as if she’s returned to gather her personal items, and Meza is nowhere in sight. While she’s bending down, reaching for her wallet under the booth, she seems to see Meza reappear and mouths, “Oh, sh**.” Meza appears in the bottom right-hand corner and flings a podium at her. The heavy metal stand narrowly misses her, and when she gets back up, she begins fighting back.

The two begin throwing dishes and other items at each other across two rows of booths.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

She immediately tosses a plate at Meza, as he scurries to take cover behind the barrier between the rows of booths. The woman slips a little as she takes cover while continuing to fling plates in his direction.

The victim pauses at one point to wipe the blood from her head.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

She appears to be pausing to take a breath and picks up a napkin to wipe the blood from her head. Meza picks up another coffee pot and swings it at her. It ricochets off the wall behind her and the shock of it sends the elderly woman into a fall. She stands back up and throws one final object before fleeing out the back door, purse in hand.

Meza immediately goes to her booth and finds the personal item she was looking for and pockets it.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza sweeps the store, sifting through purses and stealing personal items from the terrified customers who fled before being physically attacked, including a family with an infant in a carriage. The mother picked up the baby and fled without her stroller. 

Then, he sets a fire in the kitchen.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza erratically paces the kitchen corridor, burning himself in the process. He turns the flame up on one of the burners and tosses a piece of fabric onto the flame, starting a fire. Police found him fleeing from the IHOP and arrested him in the parking lot. He remains at the Maricopa County Jail.

Watch the full video below.

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