The FBI has joined the hunt for a man who stabbed two children at a Redondo Beach shopping mall last month as they sat on a bench outside a movie theater.
The 13-year-old schoolmates, a boy and a girl, were at the AMC movie complex at the South Bay Galleria for an afternoon showing of “Red Dawn” when they were attacked by a stranger who apparently chose them at random.
An adult relative who had come to the mall with them was inside the theater at the time.
Frustrated in their efforts to find out who stabbed the children, Redondo Beach police have called in the FBI.
The federal agency joined local law enforcement officers at a news conference Thursday morning to announce a $25,000 reward for anyone with information that can lead to the identification and capture of the assailant.
The FBI was called in by investigators in Redondo Beach to provide limited assistance in the case, Lt. Joe Hoffman said.
Investigators have still not found a motive for the case, or seen any pattern of similar crimes, Hoffman said.
"I’m not aware of any crimes of a similar nature occurring like this, which is why this one is so troubling," he said.
The parents of the boy who was stabbed spoke at Thursday's news conference, seeking the public's help and calling the crime "dumbfounding" and "evil."
"It's your parents worst nightmare," said the boy's mother, who gave her name only as Maria.
So far, little progress has been made on the case, despite the release of two composite images of the childrens’ attacker.
Surveillance video at the mall was not initially useful, authorities said, but investigators have been working to enhance it.
The images, taken from various points around the mall on Dec. 29, the day the attack occurred, are expected to be released today.
However, investigators warned against placing too much hope on recognizing the assailant from the video itself. The footage does not show the actual attack, and the images that police believe to be the assailant do not clearly reveal his face even after enhancement, Hoffman said.
“We’ve cleared up the pixilation and highlighted the suspect, but not to a level where somebody could recognize him based on the video,” Hoffman said. “We’ve done what we can, but not to the point where we can recognize the video.”
The children were severely injured in the attack. The boy was stabbed six times and the girl three times.
They were taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where each underwent surgery for several hours before being moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
They have both been released from the hospital, Hoffman said.