Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated how Balanzar traveled home from school. He was walking home after taking a city bus.
SAN DIEGO — The family of a 14-year-old who was killed in a drive-by shooting Monday in Mount Hope is mourning the death of the teenager and reacting to the arrests of four men suspected in the boy’s murder.
Family members on Tuesday held an impromptu mass for Erick Balanzar, a freshman from King Chavez High School, outside the Island Gardens Apartments. They say he was shot and killed as he was walking home from a city bus stop with friends.
“They (suspects) were following them since when they had gotten off school,” said Perla Balanzar, Erick’s older sister. “So yes, they were targeting them.”
The shooting was reported to police at 4:18 p.m. Monday near 36th and J streets. Witnesses say the shot fired from the moving SUV was aimed at the group running for cover. When officers arrived on scene, they found the victim with at least one gunshot wound. Medics transported the victim to a hospital, but were unable to save the boy.
“Really heartbroken. He was always with me,” Perla Balanzar said. “If he had plans, he would cancel them and spend time with me and my daughter. He would always tell my daughter how much he loved her.”
San Diego police Tuesday announced the arrest of four teens suspected of being involved in the deadly drive-by shooting. Those men were identified as Ethan Peaslee-Guerrero, 19, Bryan Escobedo, 18, and Omar Morales, 18, who were all booked into San Diego County Jail, police Lt. Jud Campbell said in a news release.
“Unbelievable, 14 years old, gone,” community activist Lucky Morales said. “Now you can hear the family suffering their pain. It’s ridiculous.”
Morales says the drive-by shooting has gotten the attention of the entire community, expressing passionately the murder of a 14-year-old won’t stand.
“They will answer to their peers, let me put it like that,” he said.
Family members say they will miss their young capable car enthusiast and doting little brother.
“No matter what he was doing, he would always be there for me,” Perla Balanzar said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Erick Balanzar by the family for funeral costs.