MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – MAST at FIU students have created a GoFundMe page to raise money for a reward offered for information that leads police to the person who attacked two students this week at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay Campus.
Bela Perdomo, 15, and James Critz, 16, were collecting samples near the school for a science project when a man approached them Monday and attacked them with some sort of club or tree branch.
"About three to five minutes later, he was on top of them bashing the guy with a large club," Elizabeth Perdomo, Bela's mother, told Local 10 News.
Bela and James are both being treated at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood. Family members said both teens are heavily sedated after suffering skull fractures.
"He's been unconscious ever since they've brought him in," James' mother, Tara James, said. "They said when they found him, he was able to tell them his name and they kept him sedated and intubated."
Bela told her mother the man did not take anything from them.
"The motive was probably sexually oriented," Perdomo said.
The time and place of the attack has unnerved the parents.
"It's not like they were hanging out in some secluded, you know, bad area, so that's what's scary for me," Tara James said.
"MAST is a great school, FIU is a great campus and you think your kids are gonna be safe there, and it's just terrifying," Perdomo said. "It shows that you're never really safe."
Bela and James are both expected to recover from their injuries.
According to an FIU news release, the victims identified the attacker to police as a black male between the ages of 16 to 18.
Bela was Local 10's Eco Hero winner in 2017. Her work creating a nontoxic, chemical-free alternative paint to prevent barnacle growth is what boosted her past hundreds of applicants.
Police said they are looking at surveillance video and following up on any tips that come in.
"This incident is very unusual -- how it occurred, where it occurred. It's a safe campus. Clearly, we're increasing the patrols now as a consequence," FIU President Mark Rosenberg said.
FIU police beefed up security on campus after the attack.
Students and staff at the Biscayne Bay campus are urged to be extra vigilant and walk in groups or with a friend.
University officials said parking services aides are available at the campus to accompany students and staff members to their vehicles. To request an aide, call 305-348-3615.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact FIU police at 305-348-2626 or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.