A stunt actor in the film “Black Panther” is being hailed as a real-world superhero after he donated his own money to cover the rent money stolen earlier this week from a family of fruit vendors at a Lancaster gas station.
The family, who has not been identified by name, had just finished work for the day when they pulled their pickup into a 7-Eleven on the corner of East Avenue J and Challenger Way in the early hours of Monday morning, according to a witness who spoke with them at the scene.
They were attacked by four women when a dispute that broke out over a gas pump escalated into violence, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
A purse was taken from the family’s truck, and when one of the family members attempted to get it back, they were punched in the face. A second victim who tried to regain custody of the purse was also struck in the face, deputies said.
Several of the family members were assaulted in the caught-on-video incident, including children, witness Jason Sandoval said.
A wallet inside the stolen purse contained $700 that had been earmarked for the family’s rent, the Sheriff’s Department said.
After stunt actor Tony Todd saw a report of the incident on KTLA Monday night, he said he immediately knew what he had to do.
“It just really touched me to think that the young lady was selling fruit for a living and she was feeding a family of five,” Todd said. “I just told myself I needed to do something about that.”
Todd, who portrayed one of the members of the Border Tribe in the blockbuster Marvel film, said the first thing he thought about when he saw the footage of the attack was his mother, who worked hard to raise three children.
On Wednesday, he drove from Santa Monica to Lancaster to hand over the cash in person and, he said, “give the young lady a hug.”
He said the recipients were crying when he gave them the money.
The Sheriff’s Department commended his actions.
“While Mr. Todd and other actors may portray heroic characters on screen, it is people like him who show us every day that there are real heroes among us,” officials said in a statement. “Thank you, Mr. Todd, for being a role model for our community.”
So far, two female suspects have been arrested in connection with the gas station attack: one a juvenile, the other identified as 19-year-old Emanie Jones.
Investigators are still looking for two more persons of interest, though they have not released descriptions or names. The individuals in the video footage all appear to be women.
Anyone with information can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster Station at 661-948-8466. Anonymous tips can be submitted via Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or LACrimeStoppers.org.