Victim, 13, dies after fight at MoVal middle school

UPDATED: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 12:15 p.m., With additional details and victim update.

MORENO VALLEY — A teen who was critically injured during a fight at a Moreno Valley school Monday, September 16, has passed away, according to sheriff’s officials investigating the violent encounter that led to the boy’s death.

Officials have since identified Diego Rivera, 13, as the victim who died after being assaulted during the deadly fight, which happened at Landmark Middle School, on the 15200 block of Legendary Dr.

Two students, both 13, have since been arrested and are being held in Riverside County Juvenile Hall on charges related to the fight and victim’s subsequent death.

Just days after the deadly middle school fight, another Moreno Valley teen, age 17, was found to be in possession of two loaded handguns on the campus of Vista del Lago High School. The two campuses are located less than two miles from each other. He was arrested without incident.

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Deputies assigned to Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Station began investigating the deadly fight, which happened on the campus grounds around 1 p.m., Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt William Stens reported at the time.

When deputies and medical personnel arrived at the school they found Rivera down on the ground outside a classroom. Witnesses said the boy was foaming at the mouth and appeared to have suffered a seizure after first being “sucker punched” by one boy and then struck again by another teen. The second blow caused the victim’s head to strike a concrete pillar before he fell to the ground and began convulsing.

13-year-old, Diego Rivera died after he was involved in a schoolyard fight with two other boys, both 13. The two teens who attacked Rivera have since been arrested and charged in the boy’s death. Rivera family photo

A short video clip later shared to social media showed the first assailant strike the teen victim again after he had fallen to the ground.

“Two juveniles, both age 13 of Moreno Valley and students at Landmark Middle School, were arrested and booked into Riverside County Juvenile Hall,” Stens reported after the arrests.

Although both teens, who have not been identified due to their ages, were initially charged with assault likely to produce great bodily injury, they now face additional charges based on Rivera’s passing.

Rivera suffered “significant injuries” in the attack and he was transported to a local hospital, where he underwent “rigorous medical intervention and treatment efforts,” officials said after the incident and arrests. 

He was initially listed in critical condition, but family and sheriff’s officials later reported the boy was determined to be clinically deceased.

“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is saddened to share the 13-year-old victim from Landmark Middle School was pronounced clinically dead last night as a result of injuries sustained in the attack,” sheriff’s officials wrote in an updated social media release after Rivera’s passing.

In the days since Rivera’s attack, school district officials have held one public meeting where parents and others voiced their concerns over the attack and reports that bullying may have led to the deadly incident.

Another parent meeting that was planned for Thursday, Sept. 26 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the middle school, has been changed to a remembrance ceremony, with the meeting being postponed until a later, as-yet unspecified date.

Not the first death to happen at LMS as a result of a campus scuffle

According to a social media release from Moreno Valley High School Principal Latoysha Brown, the purpose of the now postponed meeting was “to develop solutions through community collaboration.”

“Please use that opportunity for your students to bring solutions and ideas that can be implemented,” Brown continued before learning the meeting was postponed. “We will all continue working with parents, staff, students and law enforcement to ensure student safety.”

“We care about your child’s safety and work every day to provide a safe educational environment,” Brown continued. “We encourage our students and families to continue to say something if they see something.”

SEE RELATED: Teen, 17, arrested with two loaded handguns on MoVal campus

Despite official reassurances, some parents were quick to point out that this was not the first bullying and fight-related death to happen at the middle school.

In October 1998, a schoolyard scuffle turned deadly when a 14-year-old boy became involved in a fight with 12-year-old Jerod Schroeder.

Reports at the time indicated the fight began when the older teen, who reportedly had a reputation for disruptive behavior and “had a “considerable history of disruptive behavior and significant problems with authority,” wanted to play basketball and grabbed a ball from Schroeder, who was playing on one of the school’s basketball courts.

During the ensuing scuffle, the 14-year-old struck Schroeder on the side of the head, causing the younger boy to fall to the ground unconscious. He later died from injuries sustained in the assault.

The suspect in that case was eventually found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Candlelight vigil, fundraiser, organ donation planned

Family members have said a candlelight vigil will be held in honor of Rivera tonight at 7 p.m., in front of Landmark Middle School. A fundraiser has also been set up for Saturday, Sept. 28, from 5 p.m. until midnight. The event is scheduled to be held at 25328 Juanita Ave., in Moreno Valley.

In the wake of Rivera’s tragic death, grieving family members have begun preparations to donate the teen’s organs, hoping to “transform this tragedy into the gift of life for other children,” according to sheriff’s officials.

Anyone with further information regarding this ongoing investigation is encouraged to immediately contact Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit Investigator Joshua Manjarrez at (951) 955-2777, or Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Investigator John Tometich at (951) 486-6700.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.



Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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