‘There was not much I could do’: Fruit vendor beaten, robbed in Central Long Beach

Police are looking for two men who beat and robbed a man selling fruit out on the corner of Long Beach Boulevard and Burnett Street in Long Beach on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

The victim, 22-year-old Gerardo Ivan Olmeda Del Pilar, said he was punched in the face just after 3 p.m. without warning after the two men approached and initially asked for fruit. The victim said the men then began beating him, took his wallet and ran off with $500, a week’s worth of pay, he said.

The two suspects left him with a swollen left eye and bumps on his forehead and side of his head, he said, adding that he thinks the men tried to knock him unconscious.

“There was not much I could do,” he said in Spanish.

A man riding a skateboard saw Olmeda Del Pilar and called authorities, he said.

Police responded to the incident at about 3:20 p.m. Olmeda Del Pilar refused treatment at a hospital for fear of exposure to COVID-19, but on Sunday said he may seek medical attention because his head still hurts.

“Yes, it feels horrible, but the good thing is that I’m alive,” Olmeda Del Pilar said.

Olmeda Del Pilar lives in East Los Angeles with a relative who considers himself an uncle, Victor Cortés, who also sells fruit with him. As soon as Cortés saw him, he hugged him and asked him what happened.

“I felt very bad to see him like that, beaten,” Cortés said.

Both of them said they don’t understand why anyone could do such a thing.

Olmeda Del Pilar, who doesn’t have any family living nearby other than Cortés, called his mom in Veracruz, Mexico to tell her what happened, and he said she began to cry.

The next day, customers lined up to buy fruit from their cart, and some drove by just to hand Olmeda Del Pilar some money. At least two Long Beach residents have also started GoFundMe pages for him too, one to raise the money that was stolen, and another to help with potential medical costs.

Olmeda Del Pilar said he felt happy to see so much community support.

“It’s something beautiful,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to show that Victor Cortés is a relative who considers himself an uncle of Gerardo.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.