PHOENIX — Phoenix police are searching for a man who attacked a 14-year-old boy walking home from school Monday after getting off a Valley Metro bus.
That boy, Richard Orona, told ABC15 he’d been talking with the suspect, a stranger, on the bus minutes before the attack near 75th Avenue and Baseline Road.
“[He] started making conversation with me,” Orona said. “I saw he had a Gucci belt … I asked him how much he would sell it to me for, he said $150, I said, ‘Oh, I only got $100,’” he added, believing he was targeted because the suspect knew he had cash.
Orona said after sensing the man was acting strange, he got off the bus two stops early. Moments later, he was attacked.
“I saw someone, like, running toward me and then I didn’t think nothing of it ‘cause he turned into a neighborhood,” the teen said. “I think that he cut into the neighborhood and came out the back and, as I turned around, I just get kneed in the face.”
Orona said the attacker knocked him to the ground and stole around $80.
“I tried to get up and then he kicked the back of my head,” he said. “I think I [was] knocked out for, like, two seconds and then I woke back up.”
The 14-year-old went to a nearby home and asked Gary Henderson — sitting in his garage — for a bottle of water. Henderson and his wife, Lynn, called police after Orona told them about the attack.
“I’m just glad I was out there,” Gary Henderson told ABC15, “because the [suspect] was following him and —hard telling what would’ve happened.”
The Hendersons and Orona’s grandmother, Rebecca Diaz, are hoping the attacker is caught quickly.
“If he did that to him, he’ll do it again,” Diaz said, adding she is no longer comfortable with her grandson taking the city bus to and from school. Orona suffered bumps and bruises to his head and Diaz said family members are taking him to be checked out by a doctor Tuesday night.
A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured grainy video of the suspect, who appeared to be carrying a blue backpack. Phoenix police describe him as a thin African-American man, between 16 and 19 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and around 155 pounds. Authorities are urging anyone with information to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.