A 13-year-old middle school student in Moreno Valley is hospitalized in stable but critical condition three days after he was punched by two other boys on campus, officials said Thursday.
Two 13-year-old boys were arrested in connection with the caught-on-video assault, which occurred just before 1:10 p.m. Monday at Landmark Middle School, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies were dispatched to a fight involving students on the campus, located at 15261 Legendary Dr., a sheriff’s news release stated.
Cellphone video that circulated on social media showed Diego being hit in the face by one boy, then sucker punched to the side of his head by another. The second blow caused him to fall and hit his head violently against a pillar.
The boy who initially hit Diego then hurries over to punch him again while he’s on the ground, according to the footage. He then runs off and the video ends.
After, Diego was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Both teens were booked into Riverside County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of assault likely to produce great bodily harm, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Neither has been identified.
Classmates told KTLA the victim had been bullied previously, including on social media. They also indicated violence has been an ongoing problem at the school.
“It’s really tough because there’s so many fights here, and they don’t do anything about it,” student Crystal Rodriguez said. “The security’s all over the school, but they take forever to come.”
School administrators called a meeting on Wednesday to address the attack, and hundreds of parents showed up. Many of them expressed anger over how the Moreno Valley Unified School District has handled bullying cases.
“They don’t do anything about,” said Jorge Quintero, who told KTLA his own daughter has been bullied.
Participants filled out questions on a form, which school and district personnel — as well as sheriff’s deputies and school resource officers — attempted to answer.
Among the questions asked was whether the school was aware Diego was being bullied, and if so, why wasn’t he protected?
One law enforcement official said there were no red flags, and that to his knowledge, the two boys involved in the attack were honor students.
Many in attendance expressed dissatisfaction over the officials’ answers.
“How much more do we have to put up with this district?” asked Alicia Espinoza, who identified herself as an activist.
The district said it has hired behavior specialists, and will work more with mental health experts and services this year. Crisis counselors are also on hand for students and staff on the campus.