Man accused in fatal McDonald's attack to remain in jail

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

The man accused of brutally attacking an elderly man in a McDonald's bathroom made is first court appearance Thursday morning.

Gwinnett police said Frederic Cooper, 74, died Tuesday from injuries and complications arising from the attack. Donald Thomas, 58, was arrested March 10.

According to detectives, Cooper was followed by Thomas into the McDonald's bathroom on Indian Trail Road on Feb. 28. A few seconds later, Thomas tried to grab Cooper’s wallet.

In court Thursday, Thomas asked for public defender. He will remain in jail and has another court appearance next week. Thomas told the judge he was homeless at the time of his arrest.
 
A police report details how when Cooper tried to turn around, Thomas allegedly told him to shut up and pushed him to the ground.
 
“Knocked our victim to the floor,” said Cpl. Jake Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department. “His back was actually fractured in the fall. Somebody else may not have been injured as severely but he is 74 years old and he was not physically prepared to be knocked down and attacked the way he was.”
 
Detectives said surveillance video showed Thomas then leaving the restroom, hiding the victim’s wallet in his clothes. He then picks up a food tray, carries the garbage to the trash and leaves.
 
Thomas was originally charged with robbery and aggravated battery against a person 65 years or older. Murder charges are now under investigation. Thomas will make his first court appearance Thursday.

Court records show Thomas has been in and out of the Gwinnett jail and court system several times, mainly for drugs and trespassing charges.