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VIDEO: Man attacks women inside Phoenix IHOP restaurant

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Posted at 2:33 PM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 20:27:38-05

PHOENIX — New surveillance video shows the terrifying moments a man attacked two women inside a Phoenix IHOP restaurant.

The attack happened in September at the restaurant near 51st Avenue and McDowell Road.

Video shows a man eating in a booth before getting up and attacking two women, hitting them several times with a coffee carafe. He then continues to throw plates and mugs at the victims.

Meanwhile, other restaurant patrons, including a family with a baby, run away from the area of the attack.

One of the women hides behind an employee in the kitchen as the suspect continues to go after the other visibly injured woman, who is seen trying to defend herself with items on the tables.

The suspect, Joe Ernest Meza, 47, was captured after police found him running through the restaurant parking lot. He reportedly stole credit cards and a passport from the victims.

Court records show that Meza has a lengthy criminal history, including arrests for criminal damage, assault, burglary, and theft.

Meza is currently out on bail. His release shows the court didn't find any reason to impose a restriction on his release, said Donna Leone Hamm, the Executive Director at Middle Ground Prison Reform.

A police report states Meza is a veteran who suffers from mental health problems.

"About half of the prison population suffers from some type of mental illness," said Leone Hamm. "If he is known to have mental health problems and is not currently under control and getting mental treatment then there's no reason to believe this incident will cause that to happen."

Leone Hamm says Meza's case is a perfect example of how the prison system isn't equipped to truly help people who suffer from a mental illness.

"We made a mistake many years ago when we closed down mental institutions and removed a lot of the resources in the community for that net, that safety net before someone fell into the criminal justice system," adds Leone Hamm.