MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA) — At a packed meeting between school officials and parents Wednesday night, the family of a 13-year-old teen — critically wounded after he was punched by an alleged school bullies — asked the public to pray for Diego.
At a vigil Thursday evening, they hoped to put those prayers to good use.
CBS2/KCAL9’s Nicole Comstock attended the vigil. There were many tears, she reported.
“We just ask that Diego will be able to fight through and come out of the state that he’s in,” said one.
Many showed up to express their sadness and to honor the boy and let them know they are pulling for him to recover. Some even said they came to pray for the two boys blamed for the alleged assault.
But mostly they were there in Celebration Park celebrating the 13-year-old’s spirit.
Thursday evening, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that he remains in critical condition but his condition is stabilizing.
Diego was attacked three days ago and the fight was captured on video that has since gone viral. Two students are shown punching him, one student wails on Diego, punches him in the face and sends him head first into a concrete pillar.
“We never step up for people when we see them getting bullied. we have to,” said one young man.
The teen who made that statement, said he himself has been bullied in the past — just like Diego.
Students pointed out to Comstock the seat where Diego liked to sit on the bus.
“And she was the one that rode the bus with him,” says Alice Rosales, acknowledging her sister — senior Kayla Navarro’s — presence in Diego’s life. “Man, like on Monday, Diego was sitting right there in that seat.”
The two sisters told Comstock that Diego has always been quiet and kind. He didn’t cause problems with anyone, they said.
They were shocked to find out that he would be assaulted by these two particular students.
“I was like, wait, weren’t they friends last year?” says Rosales, an eighth grader. She has no idea why the friendship clearly went terribly wrong.
Many people in the community have heard that Diego’s family complained to the school just last week that he was being bullied.
The family says when they brought their own complaints about bullying to the district, they were brushed off.
Many parents are encouraging their kids to ditch school on Friday in honor of Diego.
Bielka Pena, a parent, said she would join the peaceful protest scheduled to start around 7 a.m.
“None of my kids are going to school,” she says.
The protest is scheduled to start in the park and march to various locations.
Several people told Comstock they planned to join the protest and encouraged other parents to keep their kids out.
Pena says her kids will learn a valuable lesson by not going.
“I’m teaching my kids to stand up and defend the next kid that’s being bullied,” Pena says.
In learning of the planned protest, the Moreno Valley Unified School District issued a statement:
The statement read:
“We have had indications that adults are meeting and encouraging others to keep their students out of school. Of course, we want students to be at school where they will be in a safe and supervised learning environment.
Last night, parents indicated that they want to be part of the solution, and understood that there is a shared responsibility between all of us — the schools, the district, law enforcement, and parents.
By working together, we can develop a more appropriate, meaningful way to discuss current issues and participate in a civic engagement event.
We want to work with our families to provide a safe and supervised environment with a focus on learning, while still allowing all voices to be heard, which is why a future meeting is in the works.”