Santa Monica Place (file photo)

An 82-year-old man is recovering from his injuries after a stranger randomly shoved him to the ground at Santa Monica Place around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7.

Abraham Yomtob told the Daily Press he was leaving a showing of Crazy Rich Asians at the Arclight Cinemas when he was suddenly struck on the first floor of the mall. He fell to the ground and briefly lost consciousness, but did not break any bones.

“I really don’t know what he had in mind but normal people don’t hit people. It was no accident,” Yomtob said. Mall security saw the incident and followed the attacker, who simply walked away without saying a word. Police caught up with the suspect on 2nd Street, where they arrested 34-year-old Leon Johnson.

On Monday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney charged Johnson with felony elder abuse. He is currently being held on $50,000 bail at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, according to arrest records obtained by the Daily Press. If convicted, Leon could face up to four years in state prison. He could not be reached for comment.

Yomtob said he’s experienced headaches since the incident and has a sore back.

“I still have the pain,” Yomtob said, who was with other members of Wise and Healthy Aging on a trip to see the blockbuster movie.

“We were both stunned,” said Yomtob’s friend Karen Howard. “We couldn’t comprehend what had happened.”

Both the victim and his friend said they were grateful for the quick response by mall security and police. The incident was caught on surveillance footage. Earlier in the day, the seniors had met with City Manager Rick Cole, Mayor Ted Winterer and Santa Monica Police Department Chief Cynthia Renaud, who told them they are doing their best to address rising crime in Santa Monica.

The same day as the attack, the Daily Press ran a story “Random attacks leave victims stunned,” which detailed three other instances where victims were minding their own business when they were suddenly punched or hit.

On Sept. 3, a stranger suddenly punch a woman in her face on San Vicente Boulevard near Palisades Park.

On Aug.11, two victims in the Pico neighborhood reported a stranger assaulted them – in one case the victim was hit by a rock in the Burger King parking lot at 20th Street and Pico Boulevard. In the second instance, a man was suddenly punched in the face at Pico Place and 23rd Streets.

In July, a local woman told the Daily Press a homeless man randomly hit her in the face on 2nd Street and Wilshire Boulevard while she was biking home from a fitness class. The woman declined to file a police report in that case.

kate@smdp.com

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press

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