A prayer vigil for a teen shot by deputies turned into a rally for justice when friends and family gathered in Highland Sunday night as the 16-year-old underwent surgery.
"No justice, no peace" is what the group of more than 50 people chanted at the site where Joshua Alvarez, 16, was shot by deputies one night earlier for allegedly wielding a hammer at authorities.
Sheriff's deputies were responding to a domestic disturbance call in the 7400 block of Rogers Lane about 10:36 p.m. Saturday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The caller told authorities that they feared for their safety and that a family member had a weapon.
Responding deputies attempted to contact the boy, who was walking away from the scene. As they did, the Alvarez allegedly turned toward the deputies and attempted to attack them with a hammer and a sharp instrument, sheriff's officials said.
A deputy fired his gun and shot the boy. Alvarez was later hospitalized and underwent surgery at Loma Linda University, Children's Hospital, said the boy's mother, Elizabeth Camacho.
"He loves his brother, his sister, his mom, his dad, his cousins, everybody," said the teen’s cousin, Vanessa Camacho, over a megaphone at the rally Sunday night. "He is a good little boy, he is a kid.”"
"I wish I would have talked it out with him instead of argued with him," the teen’s brother, Augustine Alvarez, said of the argument.
The boy's mother said that a Taser or a less-lethal option should have been used instead of a gun.
"I feel like they should have used a different force on him because he’s a minor," Camacho said. “I’ve been crying all night."
The reason why the deputies did not use a Taser was under investigation. No deputies were injured in the incident.
Friends and family say the whole situation has made them lose all faith in law enforcement.
"Now we are afraid of calling the cops, because, are they going to be shooting our kids?" said Alva Alvarez, Joshua’s aunt.
Friends and family members planned to rally at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Monday afternoon to call for an independent investigation and cameras to be worn by officers.