A man previously treated as a person of interest in the brutal alleyway assault of a San Pedro teen was on Tuesday identified by deputies as a suspect.
Following an investigation detectives described as “lengthy and methodical,” authorities believe Jaymel Williams, 20, played a role in the March 30 beating of 15-year-old Evan Jimenez, Los Angeles sheriff’s officials said in a statement.
Williams is currently in custody in a neighboring county on unrelated charges, officials said.
Jimenez, an integral part of San Pedro High School’s baseball team, was walking home from a friend’s house when just after 11 p.m. he was approached by two men in an alley on the 900 block of West 2nd Street in an unincorporated area of San Pedro. Authorities had originally reported the assault occurred around 10 p.m.
The men asked him about his gang involvement and proceeded to assault him viciously when he told them he wasn’t affiliated with any, according to Steve Stout, the creator of one of two GoFundMe pages created for Jimenez’s recovery.
Jimenez was hit over the head and in the face with a glass bottle, stepped on and “beaten beyond recognition” and left unconscious, the second campaign‘s creator, Tammy Meyers, wrote.
The teen was found in serious condition by a Good Samaritan who drove him to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, officials said.
He was soon transferred to the intensive care unit at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in West Carson, where he required the use of a breathing tube as he was treated for brain swelling and a broken jaw.
“He’s having to really learn to walk and remember things,” said Cortney Steinhoff, Jimenez’s aunt, told KTLA in April. “He’s really confused. He doesn’t really know what’s going on, what’s happened.”
The high schooler was released on April 22, nearly a month after the attack.
Williams, a San Pedro resident, had been considered a person of interest from the early days of the investigation, deputies said Tuesday.
After interviewing numerous bystanders present during the assault, detectives decided to speak with Williams on Monday and expect to present their findings to Los Angeles County district attorney’s officials to begin the process of filing charges.
Authorities are also working to identify to second assailant. A second, unidentified man is being treated as a person of interest and has not been charged, deputies said.
Sheriff’s officials noted they worked closely with the district attorney’s office’s hardcore gang unit in their investigation.
The assailants were likely trying to join the Rancho San Pedro street gang, sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Ricky Osburn told the Los Angeles Times in early April.
Osburn told KTLA the attack could have been a gang initiation or it could have been an instance of gang members being territorial. The Rancho San Pedro tag is all over the alley where the assault occurred, he said.
The incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information can contact Detective Jimmy Duckworth at 310-891-3216, or provide a tip anonymously via 800-222-8477.