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Reward offered for info on battery at Town Center Mall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A woman is offering a $5,000 reward to track down the man who punched her 19-year-old son in the face outside the Charleston Town Center Mall this month.

The altercation left Eric Joshua Gomez, of Charleston, with injuries to his face that would require several minor surgeries to repair, said Lynn Gomez, his mother.

The incident happened shortly after security officers removed Gomez from the mall on Dec. 7.

Gomez was "belligerent" and spat on two security officers who escorted him onto Court Street at about 6 p.m., said Charleston Police Sgt. Tony Hazelett.

Once alone outside the mall, Hazelett said, Gomez made a rude comment to a woman and a woman's boyfriend. The woman's boyfriend then allegedly punched Gomez once in the face, knocking him to the ground. Gomez argued with arriving paramedic units, Hazelett said, and the man and his girlfriend left the scene.

Detectives are searching for the man who threw the punch. Multiple witnesses saw the altercation and described it to police, Hazelett said.

Detectives are reviewing nearby security camera recordings to identify the man.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Charleston Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.

Gomez's mother, Lynn Gomez, said she wants to help find the man who punched her son because he does not remember the altercation. Police said he had been drinking alcohol prior to the altercation.

She is offering a $5,000 reward to entice someone to come forward with pictures or video of the altercation. She believes there were witnesses who took pictures with their cellphones, she said.

Lynn Gomez believes the man punched her son more than once or that others were involved because of the severity of his injuries.

"You can't say it's one person, one punch," Lynn Gomez said. "He's looking at three more surgeries."

Eric Gomez was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where doctors said he had severe swelling to both eyes, swelling to his forehead and a fracture to his right nasal bone. Doctors said he had a depressed sinus bone fracture, which requires surgery to repair, according to a medical report that Lynn Gomez provided. Her son has since been released from the hospital.

In the meantime, Eric Gomez has been charged with two counts of simple assault for spitting on the security guards. He is scheduled to appear in Charleston Municipal Court on Jan 22.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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