PALMDALE (CBSLA.com) — A rally was held Monday night in honor of Gabriel Fernandez, an 8-year-old Palmdale boy who was tortured and beaten to death.
The boy’s mother and her boyfriend have been arrested and charged with his murder. Fernandez’ skull was broken, he had several broken ribs and severe burn marks over various spots of his body, according to the LA County Sheriff’s Department.
Family members, neighbors, teachers are all heartbroken and outraged.
They said they complained enough about the boy’s treatment — that the child should have never been with his mother.
Many said their calls for help were ignored.
The boy’s grandfather, Robert Fernandez, spoke to KCAL9′s Andrea Fujii.
“My grandson was murdered,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office says the boy was tortured by the mom’s 32-year-old boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre. They also said Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, 29, did little or nothing to stop it.
Gabriel stayed with his grandparents until about five months ago when he went to live with his mom. His grandfather noticed the bruising and said he called police.
“Everybody called. People were calling, teachers were calling, and nothing was done,” says the grandfather.
Teacher Jennifer Garcia said Gabriel told her what was happening at home.
“He would ask, ‘Is it normal for your mommy to hit you? Is it normal for your mommy to hit you with a belt?’” she said.
Garcia says she reported the alleged abuse to the Department of Child and Family Services for six months, but Gabriel was never removed from the home.
“I am so sorry and I hope he forgives me,” Garcia said.
The Department of Children and Family Services says they will investigate and find out what went wrong. The LA County Sheriff’s Department, which was called to the home three times, says it will also investigate.
“We’re going to review from top to bottom every response that we made to that family and try to find out what we knew, when we knew it, and if appropriate actions were taken,” Capt. Don Ford said.
For Gabriel’s family it’s too little too late.
They are hoping the rally — their outcry — can prevent another child’s death at the hands of an abusive parent or guardian.
“The social workers were there. And what did they do? They closed their eyes and didn’t see nothing?” Gabriel’s uncle, Michael Lemos Carranza, said.