INDIO, Calif. - A young Indio man pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon in a stabbing death at a house party last weekend. It's the 4th violent crime involving young people in the Valley in the last month.
Just this week, a 12-year-old was arrested and accused of shooting at other kids near Cathedral City High School. It seems more young people are resorting to violence to solve their problem.
"He had the most infectious smile," said Indio High School Principal Rudy Ramirez
Rolando Rojas, 16 years old, was gunned down at a house party in Coachella earlier this month.
His principal says he was a good kid just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Well liked, popular, nice young man, maybe not the most academic student in the world but he was going to graduate, he was an 11th grader and it's just a sad time because everybody knew who he was," said Ramirez.
In Indio 17-year old Ezequiem Munoz was stabbed to death over the weekend when a party turned violent. Damian Leon, 18-years-old, is now facing spending the rest of his life in jail for his alleged role in the crime. Leon pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.
"It just sends a shiver down everyone's spine, when this happens," said Ramirez.
Two teenage brothers, 18-year old Raymond Hernandez and 16-year old Joseph Hernandez are also behind bars, accused of shooting and killing their older cousin in Indio.
Police say the shooting stemmed from a fight involving the brothers and their cousin.
"In both occasions the parties knew each other and it's over personal issues," said Indio Police spokesperson Ben Guitron.
In Cathedral City a 12-year-old was arrested for pulling out a gun and opening fire during an argument with other kids near the high school, no one was hurt but he is faces some serious charges.
Principal Ramirez says it happens too often.
"I don't like the idea of a student walking around wondering, and when they hear things in the news, when they hear about the violence at other schools whether it's a shooting or something or even in the community. The fact that the student has to think about it, it's wrong," said Ramirez.
Guitron says kids need to learn how to resolve conflicts without reaching for a weapon.
"Communities are more involved now with the youth than in the past, but it still goes back to the home, families are responsible for their youth, they need to be parents and they need to spend time with their youth," said Guitron.
"Young kids aren't supposed to die, they just are not," said Ramirez.
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