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California Middle School Student, 13, Dies After Alleged Assault by Fellow Students

3 minute read

A California teenager died on Tuesday, a week after what local police have described as an assault by fellow students on school grounds.

The 13-year-old, identified by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department by the name Diego, was allegedly punched in the face by two other students in an incident on Sept. 16 at the Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, Calif. Authorities say Diego then fell and hit his head on a concrete pillar, sustaining serious injuries.

Diego was taken to the hospital shortly after the assault, and remained in critical condition for eight days before his death.

“Rigorous medical intervention and treatment efforts at an area hospital were unsuccessful,” a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department read. “Preparations by Diego’s family are underway for organ donation to transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children.”

The identities of the suspects are not being revealed because of their age; no further details surrounding the incident or what precipitated it have been made public either, though a bystander reportedly recorded the incident.

Martinrex Kedziora, the district’s superintendent, expressed the community’s sadness during a press conference Wednesday.

“Our community and the Moreno Valley Unified School District family has suffered an immeasurable loss,” he reportedly said. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of our beloved student.”

“Diego was not only a brilliant student, but his friends also described him as someone whose smile could light up a room. He was beloved by his classmates, teachers and by his community,” Kedziora also said in a statement shared with TIME. “Diego will be missed greatly by the entire MVUSD school community.”

Kedziora said that counselors would be available at Landmark Middle School to assist anyone affected by Diego’s death. He added that the school district would be working toward “steps to prevent situations like this one from happening again.”

“My hope is that we can come together and remember the life of such a wonderful student, and work to find ways to build bridges and strengthen the bonds between us,” Kedziora concluded.

The two suspects were arrested for the assault that led to Diego’s death and are currently being held at the Riverside County Juvenile Hall. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has filed petitions against both with “assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.”

“The Sheriff’s Department joins the community in mourning the loss of this young man,” read the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s statement. “Violence in the communities served by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will not be tolerated, especially involving our youth.”

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Write to Josiah Bates at josiah.bates@time.com