After a 15-year-old teen with autism was horribly beaten by suspected gang members who took his iPhone, good Samaritans banded together to donate money so he could get a new one, police said.
Anthony was robbed and beaten in front of his 8-year-old twins sisters in Canoga Park March 11, the Los Angeles Police Department said.
“I tried to defend myself, but unfortunately I was double-teamed. I hope something like this never happens to other people,” Anthony said. His last name is being withheld for privacy.
The men took his iPhone, which is his lifeline for maintaining communication with his mother.
Anthony needs his phone to keep in constant contact with his parents because he suffers from severe asthma.
“Ever since I got my own phone, I was really happy,” Anthony said. “Since I got a phone, I can do all kinds of stuff. I can make music. I can make friends.”
It took less than 48 hours to get enough donations for a new iPhone.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Lumy, the teen’s mom, said.
Officer Duke Dao was able to track the phone through social media, and said the phone calls kept coming in from good Samaritans who wanted to donate toward Anthony’s new phone.
The attackers, who are suspected gang members, were arrested in less time than that. Police said they have surveillance footage of the attack, but were unable to release it to the public due to the ongoing investigation.
“Thank you very much,” Anthony said to officers as they presented him the new phone. “Just as long as we can take care of these people, the ones doing the crimes in the first place … because I don’t want people like me to suffer what I’ve been through.”
The adult suspect, Alvaro Vasquez, 18, was arraigned on three felony charges, including robbery and assault, as well as a special allegation related to gang activity.