Boy, 13, dies over a week after being sucker-punched at California middle school

Posted at 9:02 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 23:02:55-04

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – A 13-year-old boy has died nearly 10 days after he was assaulted at a Southern California middle school, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department confirmed Wednesday.

The boy, identified by officials only as Diego, was sucker punched during a caught-on-video attack Sept. 16 at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, according to KTLA.

He was hospitalized in critical but stable condition,  but “was pronounced clinically dead last night as a result of injuries sustained in the attack,” officials said in a Facebook post.

Two boys, also 13, have been arrested in connection with the assault, which was caught on video and created an uproar in the community. The boys remain in custody in juvenile hall and are facing prosecution, officials said. 

“Rigorous medical intervention and treatment efforts at an area hospital were unsuccessful,” sheriff’s officials said in the Facebook page announcing the victim’s death. “The Sheriff’s Department joins the community in mourning the loss of this young man.”

Deputies were called to a fight involving students on the campus about 1:10 p.m. the afternoon of the incident.

Cellphone video that circulated on social media showed Diego being hit in the face by one boy, then sucker-punched on the side of his head by another. The second punch caused him to fall and hit his head against a pillar.

The boy who hit Diego first then hurries over to punch him again while he’s on the ground, the video shows. That boy then runs off and the video ends.

Diego was then rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Classmates told KTLA that Diego had been previously bullied, including on social media. They also indicated violence has been an ongoing problem at the school.

Two days after the attack, hundreds of parents turned out to a meeting with the Moreno Valley Unified School District and expressed anger and uneasiness over how officials handled bullying cases.

The district will provide additional counselors and support personnel on campus to help students employees and families, spokesperson Anahi Velasco said in an email.

"As we mourn together, we also want to come together to find solutions and to take the necessary steps so that tragic incidents like this do not happen again," Velasco said.

A community meeting scheduled for Thursday evening has been postponed and the district will instead hold a remembrance ceremony for Diego at the middle school from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.