The family of the Hispanic boy murdered in Mount Hope holds a rally to demand justice


Family, friends and community leaders gathered in San Diego to demand justice for the death of Erick Balanzar Loeza, 14 years old, and call for an end to the violence.

“We are here to defend the loss of Erick. We want justice, we want to make sure that no other family goes through this,” said Emir Balanzar, Erick’s aunt, one of the more than 150 people who gathered this Saturday. “It’s not fair to the parents or their siblings.”

The teen was walking with friends on 36th Street Monday when a shot from a pickup hit Erick in the groin, San Diego police said.

Although the vehicle accelerated, the license plate number was noted by witnesses and notified to the police, which reported that it belongs to a Toyota Highlander that had been seen near a fight near San Diego High School an hour earlier.

Police located the van and arrested four teenagers.. On Wednesday, police arrested the suspected shooter, 17, who was not identified due to his age.

Three of the five suspects — Bryan Escobedo (18), Omar Morales (18) and Ethan Peaslee-Guerrero (19) — pleaded not guilty Thursday in San Diego Superior Court to murder charges and gang membership charges. The suspected shooter and the other detainee, who is also 17, are expected to appear in Juvenile Court. As of Saturday, authorities have not released a motive for the shooting.

Erick’s family has received more than $11,600 through a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses.

City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, whose district includes Mount Hope, said Friday on Twitter that he has visited the family and called for an end to the violence.

“The violence that robbed Erick’s family of their future must end. It is our responsibility to do what we can to prevent future tragedies. We must protect our young people. We must invest in their safety, their health and their future.”

Erick was a freshman at King Chavez Community High School and had two brothers and two sisters. At the vigil he was described as a “really quiet kid” who enjoyed music.

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