UPDATE: Woman arrested for 2017 CARTA chemical attack - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Woman arrested for 2017 CARTA chemical attack

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Chattanooga police have arrested Maja Madesha Garcia-Thompson for throwing a chemical substance on a CARTA employee in 2017.

Garcia-Thompson has been charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the incident which injured 5 people.

Investigators credit the community for Garcia-Thompson's arrest. 

"Time allows people to come forward with information and allow certain things to develop. I think that over the course of the investigation new leads happened and we were able to determine certain facts," said Chattanooga Police Investigator, Zach Crawford. 

We're told investigators spent nearly two hours interrogating Garcia-Thompson. 

"After the interview [she] confessed to the crime, but the motive...right now we’re still actively involved and investigating the case," said Crawford. 

Crawford said he personally called the main victim telling her about the arrest. 

"She’s doing as well I guess you could be in a situation as this. She is a fighter and she is still fighting through this situation," said Crawford. "We have no information at this time to believe that it will happen Carta again."

CARTA shared the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"CARTA is relieved that an arrest has been made. CARTA will fully assist and comply with the Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) to ensure that a conviction is made in this case.  CARTA’s number one priority is the safety of our customers and employees.  

We are in the process of installing fencing around the Wilcox Boulevard administration building, which will require an access card to enter, and more lighting has been added and upgraded.  All of CARTA’s vehicles are equipped with 5-8 cameras to ensure our customers’ safety.

We appreciate the CPD for their dedication and commitment to apprehend this individual.  They are a great partner to CARTA.

We ask the public to please continue to keep the victim in this case in your thoughts and prayers." 

Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: Members of the Amalgamated Transit Unit Local 1212 say they're concerned about the safety of CARTA employees following Tuesday's attack in the parking lot.

"It's very scary you know for someone like that to be on the loose because that was definitely a severe act of violence," said Lakesha Strickland, ATU Local 1212 recording secretary. 

READ MORE | Crime Stoppers: Police release video & photos of liquid attack at CARTA

The ATU Local 1212 Union is now pushing for tighter security at CARTA headquarters. Members say brighter lights in the parking lot, where the attack happened, is a must. They'd also like to see the addition of a gate or security officer. 

"We've had incidents where the driver was threatened with a gun and the individual raised up the shirt and said I'll see you later and showed a weapon," said Seabron Battle, ATU Local 1212 Financial Secretary.  "We've had drivers attacked with shoes, we've had drivers spit upon and all of those are incidents that have happened on a bus here in Chattanooga." 

On Tuesday, police say a black woman wearing rubber gloves, made a bee-line for a female bus driver, who was walking into work around 7:00am. 

The suspect then threw an unknown liquid into the driver's face, seriously burning her. She and Four other CARTA employees were hospitalized after being exposed to the liquid. Police said they believe the victim, in this case, was targeted, but haven't named a motive or any connections. 

"There have been attacks on bus drivers, subway drivers period and it has seemed to have gotten worse," said Kathy Smith, ATU Local 1212. " When it hits home, where you work at, then it really makes you more aware and concerned about security." 

CARTA officials tell Channel 3 they are working with police and reviewing all security policies in place.

"We would like to reassure the general public that there is no threat or imminent danger to them and our services will continue to operate as normal, " said Lisa Maragnano, CARTA’s Executive Director. "The safety of our employees and the general public is always our number one priority." 

The unknown liquid used in the attack has been sent to a lab for identification. The woman seriously injured is still in the hospital, but she's expected to recover. 

The suspect is described as a black female, light complexion, approximately 5'3-5'5 in height, wearing rubber gloves, hair net or scarf, blue short sleeve t-shirt and khaki pants. 

Members of the Violent Crimes Bureau are actively investigating this incident. If you have any information that can help investigators call Chattanooga Police at 423-698-2525. 


PREVIOUS STORY:  Chattanooga Police say a woman is in the hospital after she was burned when an unknown liquid was thrown into her face Tuesday morning. Five victims in total were injured and all are CARTA employees. 

READ MORE | What to do if you get a chemical burn

Police described the suspect as a black female with a light complexion. She's 5’3 to 5’5 in height and was wearing rubber gloves, hair net or scarf, a blue short sleeve t-shirt, and khaki pants.

Police say it happened outside of CARTA headquarters on Wilcox Boulevard around 7 a.m., as employees were walking into work. 

More than 15 Chattanooga Fire companies responded to the scene along with Hazmat crews, who shut down neighboring streets. 

Officials say the liquid used in the attack, has not yet been identified. Firefighters on the scene only determined it to be a non-life threatening substance. Authorities say the unknown liquid has been sent to the lab for further testing. 

"The 5 victims are employees at CARTA, they were coming into work and the unknown suspect approached the group, where the main victim had the substance thrown on her," said Sgt. Victor Miller, Chattanooga Police Dept. "It appears that the victim was targeted. There is one victim that has serious injuries." 

Police are now looking for the person who threw the liquid. Investigators say area surveillance cameras show that person made a deliberate bee-line toward the woman who was seriously injured.  

The woman suffered serious burns. Police say four other CARTA employees were also injured when the liquid substance splashed or sprayed them too.  All five victims were taken to an area hospital for treatment. 

A spokesperson for CARTA tells Channel 3 that no bus routes were affected as a result of the attack.  Police believe this was an isolated incident and say there's no threat to any passengers. 

"We would like to reassure the general public that there is no threat or imminent danger to them, and our services will continue to operate as normal," said Lisa Maragnano, CARTA’s Executive Director. "The safety of our employees and the general public is always our number one priority." 

CARTA officials added they are doing everything they can to support each other at this time. 

"It appears at this time that it would be an aggravated assault," said Sgt. Miller. "As we go through the investigation, we'll determine with the District Attorney's office if any other charges are appropriate." 

Police say the woman targeted, is still in the hospital with serious injuries and investigators are in the process of reviewing security cameras which captured the incident. 

Anyone with information that can help investigators is asked to call Chattanooga Police. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga Fire Department and Hazmat crews responded Tuesday morning when an unknown liquid thrown into a woman's face.

The woman suffered burns to her face and was transported to a nearby hospital for examination and treatment, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Five victims in total were injured and all are CARTA employees. The employees were walking to work when the suspect threw the substance.

The liquid was tested on the scene and found to be non-life threatening and was sent for further testing.  

Hazmat crews and 15 CFD companies responded to the scene. Nearby streets were closed.

Police say the incident is an aggravated assault. The suspect is still at large.


PREVIOUS STORY: Haz-mat crews are at the CARTA headquarters on Wilcox Blvd. where there's been a chemical spill.

The Chattanooga Fire Department is on hand as well, and nearby streets have been closed.

Details on what has been spilled have not yet been shared.

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