Evan Jimenez in his baseball uniform and in the hospital following the March 30, 2017 beating. Photo: https://www.gofundme.com/evans-medical-expensesrecover-fund
Evan Jimenez in his baseball uniform and in the hospital following the March 30, 2017 beating. Photo: https://www.gofundme.com/evans-medical-expensesrecover-fund

Investigators think the 15-year-old high school athlete severely beaten in north San Pedro may have been the innocent victim of a gang initiation ritual, a sheriff’s sergeant said.

“Wrong place. Wrong time,” Sgt. Ricky Osburn of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lomita station was quoted as saying Tuesday. “He has no criminal history. We’ve had no contact with him. Just seems like a good, normal teenage kid.”

A few hours after San Pedro High School’s junior varsity baseball team defeated Gardena High on Thursday, the 15-year-old pitcher was walking through an alley near his home in an unincorporated area near San Pedro when he was confronted by two men. One asked where he was from — a typical gang challenge.

The teen responded that he wasn’t involved with any gangs, told the Los Angeles Times.

Investigators do not think Evan was targeted for personal reasons but may have found himself caught up in a gang initiation ritual, Osburn said.

The teenager suffered brain swelling and fractures to his jaw and face. He’s in stable but serious condition at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, Osburn said. He regained consciousness Monday and was breathing without the aid of machines, family friend Tammy Meyers told The Times. “It’s huge progress. It’s great news,” she said.

Osburn said the attackers may have been trying to earn membership in a local street gang called Rancho San Pedro. The gang’s graffiti marked the alleyway where Evan was beaten.

A freshman at the high school who pitches and plays left field, Evan had been walking a friend home shortly before the attack, Osburn said.

“He was just walking through the gang’s area, and they confronted him,” Osburn said.

Police do not have a description of the suspects, but Osburn told The Times that nearly 75 people had called the Lomita station to offer information about the assault.

—City News Service

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