Gotcha Predators says Temecula mall wants video taken down

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EJ Twyman, wearing a red hat in the photo above, said he has received a cease and desist letter on behalf of the Promenade Mall in Temecula demanding that he remove a video he produced recently. Twyman runs Gotcha Predators, a vigilante-style organization that he says entices would-be sexual predators online and then confronts the subjects at meeting places all over southwest Riverside County. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

EJ Twyman, the southwest Riverside County man who entices what he says are sexual predators in online applications and then records them in vigilante-style sting operations, said he has received a cease and desist letter pertaining to a video of a subject he met at the Promenade Mall. 

The letter, provided by Twyman to Valley News, appears to have been sent by the law offices of Fabozzi & Miller, APV, Attorneys at Law, and indicates that the office represents “Temecula Towne Center Associates, LLC, dba The Promenade Mall.”

The letter focused on Episode 5, which includes video footage shot inside “common areas of the mall, inside Macy’s and in the mall parking lot,” according to the letter prepared by Attorney Ashley R. Wedding. 

“The Mall did not consent to the recording and the recording was done contrary to posted signs at the Mall which prohibit such activity,” Wedding wrote. “Effective immediately, you are hereby ordered to cease and desist from making any video recordings inside the Mall, inside Mall stores and in the Mall parking lot. Any additional footage of the Mall, Mall stores and Mall patrons must be immediately deleted.”

In the letter, Wedding demands that Episode 5 be taken down and if Twyman refuses, the law firm would “contact the authorities.”

Fabozzi & Miller did not return a request for comment on this story.

When reached for comment, Promenade Mall General Manager Jeff Kurtz provided a statement. 

“Promenade Temecula was inappropriately used as an unauthorized location by Gotcha Predators as a meetup location with unwelcomed individuals and/or criminal suspects,” the statement read. “The unauthorized invitation was not organized with local law enforcement or the onsite Sheriff’s Department.

“As a local community gathering place, we work closely with the (Riverside County Sheriff’s Department) who are located here onsite and work with us to maintain a safe and comfortable environment for customers and the community. The Sheriff has referred the incident to the criminal investigation department where it remains an active case.”

The video in question was posted Dec. 15 on the Gotcha Predators YouTube channel and had not been taken down by the time of publication.

Instead, Twyman took to social media to ask for support for what he is doing and claims that he saw no such posted signage regarding shooting video at Promenade Mall. 

“If you go on YouTube there are hundreds of videos of people recording at the Promenade Mall and I do not believe that every single one had permission from the mall,” Twyman said. “I also feel like the Temecula Mall is discriminating against me. If there are hundreds of other videos of people recording at the mall why is my video being targeted? I feel the mall should be more concerned about protecting the children instead of their image.”

Twyman said people who called and questioned the mall on his behalf told him that someone in the mall’s administrative offices claimed that “every single person that has recorded at the mall was given permission.” 

A search on YouTube using the phrase “Promenade Mall” turns up dozens of videos, many of which appear to have been filmed by private individuals as well as real estate professionals and local business owners.

Valley News sent Kurtz questions about these other videos, but he did not address them in his statement.

“Promenade routinely bans individuals with inappropriate behavior and refers any who are breaking laws immediately to the Sherriff’s Department,” the statement provided by the mall continued. “The Gotcha Predators individual has been advised to not include the center in any future meet-up plans. Gotcha Predators has also been contacted by the Sherriff’s Department. We will continue to work closely with local law enforcement and the on-site Sheriff’s Department to assist in any criminal investigations and community safety concerns.”

When Twyman first posted the video in question, he said he was contacted by the subject’s family. 

“I caught (name omitted), the guy who brought his 4-year-old son, sometime last month,” Twyman said. “His family was very upset and even reached out to me on Instagram telling me to take down the video and that I have no idea what’s coming.”

Twyman took that correspondence as a threat and said he was contacted not long after by an area school district, which Twyman said employs the subject in the video, and they asked for video and the chats leading up to the meeting shown in the video. 

“I gave them the video and the chats and told them to reach out to me if they needed anything else,” Twyman said. “I also gave evidence to a Wildomar police officer and also to Menifee police. I didn’t hear anything about it for a few weeks.”

He said the school district recently contacted him again asking if he would come and testify against the subject in the video. 

Twyman added that despite his best efforts, the Temecula station of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was less than responsive to his request to share information he had gathered on subjects. 

“When I first started catching these guys the Temecula police were not too friendly and were more concerned about stopping me,” Twyman said. “When I asked the Temecula police if I would be able to call them when I’m going to meet up with one of these guys they said — and I quote — ‘That’s not how it works, sir.’ I respect law enforcement but I care about our kids’ safety a lot more.”

Twyman said he thinks the cease and desist letter was a mistake by Promenade Mall management. 

“In regards to the Temecula mall, they have lost my business on top of hundreds of other people who have sent me messages saying that they will no longer shop there,” he said. “Our kids’ protection should be the number one priority not the image of their business. They wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for the families that go and shop there.”

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com