Thirteen-year-old Diego Stolz, a student at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, California, was brutally attacked by school bullies on Monday, September 16. During the attack, Stolz hit his head on a concrete pillar, and a week later he was dead.
According to a wrongful death suit filed by his family against the school district, Stolz had reported the bullies to school administrators just days prior to the attack. He told school officials he was being verbally and physically abused.
“He was so relieved that he had talked to someone,” Stolz’s cousin Jazmin said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We were on our drive back home, and I turned around and I told him, ‘I’m always going to defend you. You know that, right?’ And he nodded his head, ‘I know.’”
The family says Diego spoke with Landmark’s assistant principal about the bullies on Thursday, September 12, and that he was told he could take the next day off from school. The assistant principal also told Diego the two bullies would be suspended for three days, starting the following Monday.
But when Diego returned to school on Monday, the bullies were there.
That’s the day they attacked him.
“That’s what’s unbelievably devastating to this family, that this could have been prevented,” the family’s attorney, Dave Ring, said. “It could have been prevented if this school took bullying seriously.”
Surprisingly, the two bullies were childhood friends of Diego. It’s not clear why they began bullying him. Both of the attackers have been charged with voluntary manslaughter and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. Because they’re minors, no other information has been released about them.
David Wohl, the attorney for one of the bullies, blames the school, not his client.
“The reality is that no one ever thought that would happen, no one ever wanted it to happen and it’s up to the adults in the room to make sure it doesn’t happen, and they failed,” Wohl said, according to ABC7. “The school lost control, and the school allowed this culture to fester, and one child is dead because of it.”
For their part, the school and the district blame the bullies alone. Moreno Valley school district spokeswoman Anahi Velasco told KTLA the district did nothing wrong.
Per Velasco, “The two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death.”