A mother and her teenage son are questioning the security protocols at a popular Downtown shopping center after the boy tried to get help at a store after being beat up and robbed a few weeks ago.
On Wednesday, June 19, 15-year-old Julius Jimenez joined a friend and her family at The Pike Outlets near the city’s waterfront area to shop and enjoy some sweet treats.
The experience ended sourly when Jimenez was punched in the face and robbed of his cell phone by a group of about six teenagers he believed to be around his age, including one he thought he recognized from Poly High School, where he attends classes.
Jimenez said he and his friend had just left the H&M clothing store when a Latino teen began staring down Jimenez before cursing at him.
Jimenez said he told the teen he wasn’t looking for a fight and he immediately sought refuge in the nearest business, the clothing store Cotton On.
While in the store, a group of Latino teens walked inside, confronted him and asked him if he “bangs”—a common gang challenge—which he denied.
Jimenez said he asked a Cotton On cashier for help but instead was told to leave the store and “to take my business outside.”
“I really thought that was going to be it for me,” Jimenez said.
While half the group waited by the store’s entrance, the other half attacked Jimenez, punching him in the face twice and stealing his cell phone before running off, he said.
After the attack, Jimenez asked the cashier to call 911 and again she denied him help, instead telling him to call police, according to Jimenez and his mother. When Jimenez said his phone was just stolen, the employee suggested his visibly shaken friend make the call, he said.
The teens called police and filed a report.
A Pike Outlets security personnel also eventually responded to the scene and told Jimenez he wasn’t able to get to Jimenez sooner because he was preoccupied “with something else.”
A bystander who was shopping when the incident took place shared with Jimenez a short, blurry video of the attack. Jimenez can be seen in a blue shirt being surrounded by the group.
Police are still investigating the attack. They urged anyone with information to call the police department’s robbery detail at 562-570-7464 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-222-8477.
Jimenez’s mother, Patricia Jimenez, said the teen did not leave his room in the days following the attack.
“I felt helpless, I felt useless,” Julius said. “Nobody was helping.”
Patricia Jimenez said it was the adults in the situation who failed the children.
After the incident, Patricia filed a complaint with Cotton On.
A customer service representative responded to her days later saying that “corrective action” was taken, but did not elaborate on the details regarding the cashier, according to a copy of the email conversation Patricia shared with the Long Beach Post.
“Our senior retail management team will work with our team in store to ensure correct processes and procedures are being followed and appropriate actions will be taken to ensure our team are able to provide assistance if a similar situation was to occur,” the representative said.
The Post reached out to Cotton On, which is based in Australia, but did not immediately receive a response.
Officials for The Pike Outlets declined to answer questions about security protocols at the shopping center—stating only that there is 24/7 security.
“The Pike Outlets have a comprehensive security program and we also work with the local police department,” property manager Morgan Erickson said in a statement. “We do not make specific comments regarding property security.”
Julius has been to The Pike Outlets before but has never been assaulted. The week after his attack, a stabbing was reported at the shopping center.
“I want to feel more protected, I want to feel more safe,” Julius said. “I want others to feel safe.”
He has no intention of going back.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.