Vigil held for bullied teen who died after being punched at school

California

MORENO VALLEY (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) – A little girl holds her hands in prayer while her family hangs a sign on the fence.

Dozens of people light candles at a memorial service outside Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley as the community remember 13-year-old Diego, who died a week after two other students brutally assaulted him during a passing period on campus.

“He was really funny and really nice, like I couldn’t believe he got hurt so badly,” said Diego’s friend Cassandra Huitron.

“I bet the little boys didn’t know this was gonna happen to Diego at all,” said 10th grader Benjamin Cardenas.

“To hear that 9 days later, he didn’t make it. That’s gonna trouble me for a very long time,” said Hemet resident Renee Sandoval.

Sandoval drove from Hemet to teach her daughter about what happened to Diego can happen to anyone who’s being bullied.

“So many lives are torn up because these kids are getting away with too much,” Sandoval said.

Diego’s friends who rode the bus to school with him everyday say the same two kids who assaulted him had bullied him before.

“He got on the bus mad and then from there that’s when they told me they’ve been bugging him,” said Diego’s friend Bellanira Calderon.

Calderon says the three boys used to be best friends.

But a week before this assault, one of those kids hit Diego in the face for the first time.

“Punched him at lunch, like pressed him down,” Calderon said.

But she says Diego didn’t want to fight him so he told his parents who immediately told the school.

“There are confidentiality laws when it comes to speaking about students,” said the school superintendent.

The school district still won’t say whether or not Diego’s family came to them for help and whether or not they did anything to help.

They do now say that after he was fatally wounded, they’ve created a new position – someone who’ll monitor and follow up on all reports of bullying.

“We realized that we needed to do more and be more responsive to students when they report it,” the superintendent said.

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