California

New attack, arrests at Southern California school where bullied teen was fatally beaten

A girl was allegedly attacked on the Landmark Middle School campus in Moreno Valley, Calif., during the lunch hour Monday. Two girls, ages 12 and 13, were arrested, authorities said. A bullied teen was fatally sucker punched on the same campus in September.
A girl was allegedly attacked on the Landmark Middle School campus in Moreno Valley, Calif., during the lunch hour Monday. Two girls, ages 12 and 13, were arrested, authorities said. A bullied teen was fatally sucker punched on the same campus in September. Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Violence and arrests returned to a Moreno Valley middle school Monday a month after a bullied teen was fatally sucker punched on the same campus in September.

A girl was allegedly attacked on the Landmark Middle School campus during the lunch hour Monday and two girls, ages 12 and 13, are now under arrest.

The attack happened just after noon on the grounds of Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, east of Riverside. The two students arrested by a Riverside County Sheriff’s school resource officer are being held in juvenile custody on suspicion of battery on school grounds, sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

The girl was treated by a school nurse for what officials described as minor abrasions and pain and released to her mother.

Monday’s attack at Landmark came almost a month to the day after 13-year-old Diego Stolz was beaten by two boys Sept. 16 in an on-campus attack at the front entrance of Landmark captured on video.

Video showed Diego staggering backward from the first blow when he appeared to be punched by the second boy and struck his head on a concrete pillar. Diego never regained consciousness. He died eight days later at a Riverside hospital.

Two boys arrested in the attack each now face a charge of voluntary manslaughter in Diego’s death.

One of the boys pleaded not guilty at an Oct. 2 appearance. The second was scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing Tuesday in Riverside Juvenile Court.

The attack and the bullying Diego reportedly endured before his death rallied angry parents who pulled their children out of school staging “Ditch for Diego” protests and venting frustration at Moreno Valley School District leaders.

One of the two boys suspected in Diego’s attack stood before a Riverside Juvenile Court judge Oct. 2. The same day, two 12-year-old girls allegedly assaulted a student and teacher in a classroom at yet another Moreno Valley middle school classroom in a brawl also caught on video.

The girls, students at Moreno Valley’s Sunnymead Middle School, were arrested Oct. 4 on suspicion of multiple battery charges in the Oct. 2 attack, Riverside County sheriff’s officials announced.

The Sunnymead scrum was captured on video and posted online, the female students swinging and connecting with repeated blows as adults and students tried to separate the crowd and end the melee.

Sheriff’s officials citing Sunnymead students’ accounts said the three girls walked into the classroom and set upon their target. Jazmin De La Torre was not hurt in the incident, but later told Los Angeles television station KTLA that she wants a transfer out of Sunnymead. Two of the girls were former friends of De La Torre’s, she told KTLA.

“She followed me to class .... I was just with a few of my friends and they walked me to class to make sure I was OK, then I just see these kids running into class and the teacher comes up to try to separate and they were hitting me and pulling my hair,” De La Torre said. “I don’t want to be in this school anymore because too many things happen here.”

“We’ve been in the news a lot for all the wrong reasons,” Moreno Valley Unified Superintendent Martinex Kedziora, who has come under fire for his response to the recent violence, said at an Oct. 8 district meeting. “It’s not our only story. We are much better than this.”

Kedziora insisted Moreno Valley Unified is “taking the situation very seriously,” holding meetings with parents and administrators, posting anti-bullying resources on school websites along with anonymous We-Tip links for students in calling for an end to violence on Moreno Valley campuses.

“Bullying and violence must stop. I want to make that very clear,” he said. “Bullying has no place in our schools.”

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.
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