‘We were all devastated’: Brutal beating of 94-year-old man with dementia stuns family, friends

GLADSTONE, Mo. -- A homeless man is behind bars, accused of brutally beating a 94-year-old man in Gladstone.

Police said the attack was unprovoked, and the elderly man was left in a pool of blood.

The victim, Charlie, is well known in Gladstone. He walks two miles a day. But Saturday, when he stopped to take a rest, police said he was beaten up.

Ricardo Barraza III is now charged with assault of a special victim after police said he admitted to brutally beating the 94-year-old.

"He's he type of guy that he'd just walk along and look at the flowers and say hello and go along his way, never bother anybody," said Charlie's friend and neighbor, Pam Lyle.

The attack happened Saturday morning near N. 72nd and N. Oak Trafficway on one of Charlie's neighborhood walks. He apparently stopped to rest on a bench.

Barraza, who is homeless, had been napping there. Court records say he accused Charlie of stealing his blanket and then began punching him.

"Definitely a traumatic phone call. We come out of one hospital room with my brand new baby and down to the emergency room to see my grandfather," said Scott Evans, Charlie's grandson.

Charlie was able to tell police a few details about the attack and, despite his dementia, could relay exactly where it happened.

"We care about each other. When this happened to a 94-year-old man, we were all devastated," Lyle said.

Police were able to get surveillance video from a nearby business, and one of the officers instantly recognized Barraza, who had previously been arrested for another assault.

Barraza was sitting in jail when officers interviewed him about the attack. Court records say he admitted to punching Charlie "several times" and "probably almost killed him" then "left him there."

"I'll never forgive him, and I'm just glad Gladstone Police caught him first," Evans said.

Charlie will have permanent injuries from the beating. He had surgery to help heal cuts on his face and damage to his head, and he's now blind in his left eye.

But loved ones said the senseless attack won't knock him down.

"He's doing good. He's a strong-hearted man," Evans said.

Charlie is being released from the hospital and will need continued therapy to adjust to losing partial sight.

His family and neighbors are very thankful for the outpouring of support from the community.

The man who attacked him is now being held in the Clay County Detention Center on $75,000 bond.

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