As detectives continue to investigate Saturday’s stabbings of two 13-year-olds at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach, the mall has stepped up security.
Both teens were stabbed in the chest—apparently unprovoked—while they were sitting on a bench near the AMC Theaters on the third floor of the mall, police said. People standing in line to buy tickets saw the teens fall to the ground; however, police have not found anyone who actually saw the stabbing happen.
Sgt. Shawn Freeman of the Redondo Beach Police Department said there was no commotion or disturbance from the victims or witnesses when the stabbing occurred.
Some stores were in the process of closing down when the investigation began, but officers did not direct an official lockdown. The mall’s administration instructed the movie theater’s manager to close down, and officers from the Redondo Beach, Torrance, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach police departments searched vehicles as they exited the mall.
The victims described their attacker as a 40- to 50-year-old tall black man with a medium build. He had a beard and a possibly graying mustache, and might have worn prescription glasses. He wore a possibly green-and-brown fatigue-style jacket, blue jeans, a black T-shirt and a dark-colored beanie.
Freeman told Patch earlier this week that there did not appear to be a surveillance camera focused on the bench the teens were sitting on; however, officers were reviewing footage from nearby cameras.
"Investigators are still collecting and viewing video surveillance from the Galleria mall and stores for photos and/or videos of the suspect involved," Freeman told reporters Wednesday evening via email. "We are waiting for a sketch that can be released to the media, and expect by the week's end we will have a sketch and/or photo to release to the press."
The motive for the stabbing is still unknown. "As far as we know right now, it's a completely unprovoked attack,” Freeman said. “They were sitting on a bench, and the suspect walks up, stabs them and walks away."
The boy and girl underwent surgery at an area hospital after the stabbing. As of Wednesday evening, they were in stable condition, Freeman said.
“This incident is very upsetting to us as we were saddened to learn that two teenagers were injured at South Bay Galleria,” mall spokeswoman Mickey Marraffino said in a statement. “We are very encouraged to hear that they are going to recover soon.”
Marraffino confirmed to Patch that the Galleria has implemented increased security measures in response to the stabbings. Redondo Beach Police Chief Joe Leonardi concurred.
“There is an increased (police) presence, and there has been one at the mall since the stabbing,” Leonardi told Patch. “The Galleria pays for officers for dedicated patrols at the mall every day during business hours, and (officers) were there that day.”
According to a statement from the Galleria, the mall already has “an extensive security program that consists of 24-hour security patrols, a command center/camera system, exterior vehicle and bicycle patrols for maximum visibility, and Redondo Beach police officers that are assigned to patrol exclusively at the Galleria.”
Police asked that anyone with information about the stabbing call the Redondo Beach police tip line at 310-937-6685 or text to 310-339-2362. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Editor Nicole Mooradian contributed to this report.