"I'm walking toward the car and all of a sudden I heard a voice behind me say, 'Hey do I know you?' or 'What was your name again'?" Tripathy remembers. "I just kept walking and the guy said, 'Hey buddy hold up and turn around one second.' So I turned around and then all I remember is a lot of punches, mostly to my head."
Tripathy said it was one white male in his 20s doing most of the beating, however the male was accompanied by two other white males who Tripathy speculates were there to help with the getaway.
In the attack, Tripathy sustained major injuries including a broken arm and collar bone as well as cuts to his face and gums. Needless to say, he didn't make it to prom that night.
Pleasanton police rarely see an attack of this nature--happening in broad daylight and apparently random--said Detective Dana Savage who is handling the case. But aside from the unusual nature of the incident, further controversy has come up regarding the help--or lack of help--Tripathy received in the moments after the attack.
Tripathy said for a moment he got away from his attackers and ran toward the JC Penney entrance, but as he reached the doorway the suspect jumped on him from behind and continued to beat him. Tripathy said he then threw the suspect off and ran into JC Penney where he says the store manager approached him and told him he would have to leave because he was covered in blood and that was the store policy. When he left the store, Tripathy said he saw his attackers leaving on motorcycles, but that as he stood outside the entrance covered in blood, no one helped him.
"Finally, a little bit later, a security guard came out, took me in, cleaned me up and called 911," Tripathy said.
But police say that Tripathy's memory of the events following the attack is not what happened.
Savage said that it was Darryl Bradley, the JC Penney store manager who Tripathy says threw him out of the store, who in fact helped chase away the attackers and retrieved valuable information for the case. According to the report, Bradley was on a break in front of the JC Penney entrance when he saw the suspect jump on Tripathy. Bradley then intervened by yelling at the suspect.
"It was due to his verbal intervention that the fight stopped," Savage said.
When Tripathy attempted to enter JC Penney, Savage said Bradley instructed him to instead go to the Loss Prevention office located around the corner from the entrance because there are medical supplies and radios in that building. Bradley ran after the suspects to see if he could he get more identifying information.
"It's because of Bradley that we learned the suspects fled on motorcycles," Savage said.
Tripathy said he does not remember Bradley offering any kind of help.
"He says he told the guys to leave, but I didn't notice anything," Tripathy said. "He said he contacted security, but all I remember is he kicked me out of the store, and luckily the guys were running away at that point. I could see them running in the parking lot and I was standing outside, head to toe covered in blood, and nobody, helped, nobody offered assistance. No one asked if I was okay."
Bradley and JC Penney's corporate office said they would not comment on the case.
Tripathy's mother, Sumita Tripathy, who was waiting for her son inside the mall when the attack occurred, said she is very upset that her son did not receive help at JC Penney.
"I have nothing against the store," she said. "It's just when someone comes in expecting help, don't throw them out--give them help. The manager said it is store policy that anyone bloodied up can't come in, but you can't just throw a kid out. Don't throw him out on the street again."
Tripathy, who had about 300 visitors following the attack, said nearly 200 of his friends plan on boycotting JC Penney.
Sumita Tripathy said she plans on sending a letter to JC Penney's corporate office asking them to change this policy and has more than 100 people who will sign the letter.
"I want to make sure next time that they will help the kids," she said. "I'm not sure if it's going to be of any impact, but I'm going to try."
The police department maintains that Bradley correctly handled the situation.
"We would have lost valuable information if (Bradley) had not maintained surveillance on the suspects," Savage said. "It was his verbal intervention that broke up the fight."
As for the attackers, Savage said the police do have a few leads, although the motive is still unclear. There was speculation that because Tripathy is Indian and the attackers are white that the attack was racially motivated. While they have not completely out ruled that theory, there is no evidence to support it, Savage said. Anyone with information regarding this case can call the Pleasanton Police Department at 931-5100.