The parents of the 13-year-old boy who was stabbed Dec. 29 in an attack at the South Bay Galleria spoke at a news conference Thursday morning to plead for the public's help in the search for a suspect.
"We're here today … to put (out) as much information as we have on this individual," said Rich, the father of the boy. "We want him captured before another parent has to go through the pain and agony that we did."
Out of respect for the privacy of the family, police are not releasing the victims' names, hometowns and other identifying information. The boy's parents did not give their last name.
According to Rich, he found out something had happened to his son when an anonymous Good Samaritan called him from his son's cellphone.
"It's devastating, to say the least … You don't know the fate of your son at that point," Rich said, recalling how he thought about the parents of the victims in the Sandy Hook elementary shooting as he waited for news on his son. "You don't know what his condition is."
The two teens—a boy and a girl—had seen the movie Red Dawn several hours prior and were sitting on a bench outside the AMC Theaters in the mall when the man walked up and stabbed them.
"This is a completely random and unprovoked attack," said Lt. Joe Hoffman of the Redondo Beach Police Department.
The girl was stabbed three times in the chest area, side and clavicle, while Rich's son was stabbed six times. One of the stab wounds went through his heart and lung.
"The paramedics did an incredible job at the scene to stabilize him," said Maria, the boy's mother.
Both teens have been released from the hospital and are recuperating at home, according to Lt. Joe Hoffman of the Redondo Beach Police Department.
"As bad and as horrific as it was—and it was awful—we still get to go home, we get to hug our kid," Rich told reporters. "I get to tell my boy how much I love him. I get to tell my boy how proud of him I am. I get to tell my boy how great he was and how much I admire him and how much he’s my hero."
The victims described the attacker as a 40- to 50-year-old tall black man with a medium build. He had a beard and a mustache that may have been graying, and he was possibly wearing prescription glasses. He was wearing a fatigue-type jacket that may have been green and brown, blue jeans, a black T-shirt and a dark-colored beanie.
The weapon used was described as a kitchen knife with a black handle.
From the suspect's description, police were able to locate the suspect in several surveillance videos from businesses inside the mall.
The police department, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who stabbed the teens, city officials announced at Tuesday's news conference.
According to Redondo Beach mayor Mike Gin, the local FBI office made the reward possible. Hoffman said FBI agents have assisted police with collecting, reviewing and enhancing surveillance video from the mall.
"Having the support of the FBI in this case makes resources available to us in the investigation that we might otherwise not have immediate access to," Hoffman said. "It is in the best interest of all law enforcement to ID a suspect in this case."
Anyone who has seen the suspect or who may have information on the stabbings—no matter how inconsequential it seems—is being asked to contact the Redondo Beach Police Department's tip line at 310-937-6685, Hoffman said. People can also text their information to 310-339-2362.