Southern California

‘We're Here for Diego': Grief Turns to Anger at Vigil for Student Who Died in Beating at School

Students and parents attended a vigil for a 13-year-old Moreno Valley middle school student who died after a clash on the Southern California campus

Distraught students and parents shouted at a Southern California school district leader and demanded answers during a vigil Wednesday night for a Moreno Valley middle school student who died after suffering severe injuries in a confrontation on campus.

Mourners expressed grief and anger at the candlelight vigil for the 13-year-old Landmark Middle School student identified only as Diego. Classmates chanted the victim's name as they carried signs and marched with parents to the vigil.

Students wore t-shirt's with pictures of Diego. One sign read, "Diego, we walk in your memory."

"He was just a calm dude," said Rafael, a classmate and friend.

The boy was hospitalized in critical condition after the fight earlier this month. He died Wednesday.

Two students involved in the fight were in custody, arrested on suspicion of assault. Witnesses said no one stepped in to help Diego during the brawl, but some stopped to record video on their cell phones.

The boy collapsed, striking a concrete wall.

Authorities are working to determine what led to the deadly confrontation. Some classmates at Wednesday's emotional vigil said Diego had been bullied.

"Everybody's changing the subject about bullying, but we're here for Diego," said 14-year-old student Arianna Franquezvilla through tears. "Diego lost his life today. Diego's not here no more."

Students and parents shouted questions at Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora, who was accompanied by a sheriff's deputy at the campus vigil. He said earlier that the district has added security officers at the school.

"We're here tonight to work with the community to support them," said Kedziora.

On Wednesday, the school district released a statement to announce Diego's death. Details about a cause of death were not immediately available.

"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," Moreno Valley Unified School District officials said in the statement.

The district also said it will provide additional counselors and support personnel for students, employees and family members.

Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to contact Investigator Joshua Manjarrez at 951-955-2777 or Investigator John Tometich at 951-486-6700.

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