A 13-year-old California boy identified only as Diego died just one week after being attacked by two alleged bullies at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley.
The fight took place on September 16 and was reportedly caught on cellphone video.
According to The Daily Mail one boy punched Diego in the face and then he was sucker-punched on the side of his head by the other boy, which caused him to fall backward and hit his head against a concrete pillar.
Diego was pronounced clinically dead on the night of Tuesday, September 24, and a public announcement was made the following day.
“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is saddened to share the 13-year-old victim from Landmark Middle School was pronounced clinically dead last night as a result of injuries sustained in the attack on Monday, September 16, 2019,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.
“Rigorous medical intervention and treatment efforts at an area hospital were unsuccessful,” the statement continued. “Preparations by Diego’s family are underway for organ donation to transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children.”
The Moreno Valley Unified School District officials also released a statement on Wednesday, September 25, NBC reports.
“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we inform you that Diego, the student involved in the incident at Landmark Middle School on Monday, September 16th, has passed away. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and school community as they cope with this devastating loss.”
The violence that led to Diego’s death is something Landmark students see often.
“It’s really tough because there’s so many fights here, and they don’t do anything about it,” student Crystal Rodriguez told KTLA. “The security’s all over the school, but they take forever to come.”
The boys that attacked Diego were both 13 and honors students. Now they’re being held at Riverside County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of assault likely to produce great bodily harm, KTLA reported.
On Wednesday, September 25, following the announcement of Diego’s death, hundreds of Landmark students and their families took the street to march in a candlelight vigil, NBC reports.
“He was just calm dude,”Rafael, a friend and classmate of Diego’s who attended the vigil told NBC. “He used to tell me that kids would pick on him.”
Arianna Franquezvilla, a 14-year-old Landmark student who was also at the vigil, said, crying, “Everybody’s changing the subject about bullying, but we’re here for Diego. Diego lost his life today. Diego’s not here no more.”
During the vigil, Martinrex Kedziora, the superintendent of the Moreno Valley Unified School District was surrounded in the parking lot by a huge crowd that demanded answers about the constant bullying taking place at Landmark.
“We’re here tonight to work with the community to support them,” he told reporters with the crowd still surrounding him.
In a post on the District’s website following the attack, Kedziora urged parents to “please encourage your child if they see something to say something, and be an upstander against bullying.”
His message, which was written before Diego passed away, also announced a meeting at Landmark on the evening of Thursday, September 26.
It was also shared on the school’s Facebook page.
Concerned parents and others commented on ways to combat bullying with one suggesting a student peer court, at each school in the district.
“An opportunity for those who have been cited for bullying, disruption in class, etc. Judged by their peers, and dealt sentences such as cleaning up the school, written and oral apologies, etc.,” the woman commented, to which the District replied, calling it a “great idea.”
Another woman didn’t seem so convinced to see change, “Ummm didn’t the district hold one of these meetings earlier this year after the big campus brawl that took place at the same school??? Let’s get serious about being proactive and follow through with effective solutions to address bullying.”