There will be an empty chair at a Koreatown family’s Thursday night Thanksgiving dinner.
Usually, Brayden Medina’s extended family gathers at his aunt’s and uncle’s house in the neighborhood to celebrate the holidays. But this year, the 9-year-old will spend Thanksgiving in a hospital bed recovering from a stab wound that affected his ability to walk.
Just over a week ago, the boy had been shopping with his mother at a Target store in downtown Los Angeles when – in an unprovoked attack – a man confronted Brayden and told him he would stab and kill him. The boy tried to escape but was stabbed in the back.
The attacker, who has not been identified, proceeded to stab a young woman in the chest, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. When the suspect, who police believe was homeless, tried to stab a security officer, the officer fatally shot him.
Since that day, Brayden has been recovering in a Los Angeles hospital. Brayden’s parents have not publicly discussed the attack and its impact on their family, and they have asked that the hospital where Brayden is being treated not be named for privacy reasons.
After the attack, Brayden’s older brother, Jessi, said their mother tried to act “strong and brave” to “not show me she was sad and hurt.” His parents tried to comfort him. But he knew.
When he first spoke to his little brother on the phone, the 14-year-old said he was trying to distract Brayden from the horrific attack.
“But out of nowhere he became sad. He said, ‘Jessi, they stabbed me in the back,’ and then he got very sad and started crying,” Jessi recalled. “To be honest, I kind of lost my composure.”
The brothers cried together.
“It’s like a life scar,” said Brayden’s cousin, Lizzette Molina. “What he went through will stay with him for the rest of his life.”
The 24-year-old woman who was stabbed in the chest is still recovering in hospital, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. Last week she was rated critical but stable.
Because Brayden’s injuries were so severe, Molina said only his parents were able to visit him.
“We just want to visit him,” said 20-year-old Molina a few days before Thanksgiving. “That’s all we want.”
On November 15, Brayden and his mother had taken the bus from their home in Koreatown to the Target location at 7th Street and Figueroa Street at the FIGat7th Mall. Brayden had wanted to buy the game of life for a long time, but his parents were busy with work, his mother as a hotel housekeeper and his father in a kitchen preparing food.
Finally, on that crisp, clear Tuesday, her mom had time to take Brayden to the store to look for the game, Jessi said.
While Brayden and his mother were shopping that evening, a man in his forties unarmed entered the store and went into the kitchen aisle. There he unpacked a large butcher knife, Moore said in an interview.
Brayden walked alone at the time to meet his mother at the register so they could pay for their groceries. The board game was already in the family’s shopping cart.
At that moment, the knife-wielding man confronted the 9-year-old.
The suspect repeatedly told Brayden he would stab and kill him, Moore said in a news conference after the attack. The boy tried to get to safety, but the man “suddenly, without further provocation, attacked this small child and stabbed him … causing him to fall to the ground,” Moore said.
The attack left a deep wound on Brayden’s left shoulder. A 26-year-old woman tried to help and suffered minor injuries, police said.
The suspect walked away and then “vigorously stabbed the 24-year-old in the chest,” Moore said. Good Samaritans came to her aid, he said, dragging her to a nearby pharmacy “to make sure the attack didn’t continue.”
The attacker then moved to the front of the store where he was confronted by an armed security guard, the boss said. The security guard opened fire at least once, hitting the knife-wielding man in the stomach.
He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
“I’m grateful to Target security for their uniformed officer who was there,” Moore told the Times. “It was this uniformed, armed guard who stepped in and stopped this deadly attack.”
As a result of the attack, Moore said, the LAPD accelerated the rollout of its furlough schedule and increased the number of uniformed officers in malls and other seasonal locations.
Moore said police are continuing to investigate the attacker’s background and said he had “minimal arrest history.” Police found an address for him in the San Fernando area, but believe he hadn’t lived there in a while.
The boss added that police could not find any previous involvement of the suspect with mental health professionals or treatment “or what could possibly explain this vicious attack”.
He said he was confident Brayden and the 24-year-old could leave hospital “and make a full recovery.”
“They’re still in the woods in a sense that they’re still in the hospital,” Moore said.
Molina said they don’t know how long Brayden will be in the hospital. He has started physical therapy and doctors have been running more tests on him this week.
“They still haven’t confirmed to us what the long-term implications are and how he will fare going forward,” Molina said. “I don’t know how long it will take for my cousin to heal, but we will all be there for him.”
Brayden, the youngest of three boys, is “definitely the baby in our family,” Molina said. She described him as energetic, adventurous and caring.
Last weekend, coming home from UC Riverside, she remembered feeling down and her little cousin focused on cheering her up. He told her to punch a balloon they had in the house to make her feel better. Then, to distract her, he suggested watching a movie.
Upon hearing what had happened to her cousin, Molina said she felt “heartbroken”.
“It definitely hurt me to hear that my baby, my cousin who I love so much, had to go through this very horrible experience,” she said. “I got home as soon as possible.”
To help her family, Molina started a GoFundMe page which has raised more than $36,000. Molina expects it will help a lot since both her aunt and uncle have taken time off from work to be with Brayden.
Her uncle will probably be back to work soon because “due to our circumstances, they don’t have the luxury of taking vacations,” Molina said.
She added that the family is grateful and overwhelmed with the support they have received. She didn’t expect to raise so much money in such a short amount of time, she said.
“[Brayden] knew the world wasn’t a very good place before he got hurt,” Molina said. “He already knows there’s a lot of bad in the world, but I hope with this GoFundMe page he can see and realize that even though the world is bad, there are good people too.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-24/after-target-stabbing-9-year-old-will-spend-thanksgiving-in-hospital After Target stabbing, 9-year-old boy will spend Thanksgiving in an L.A. hospital