Teen's killing shakes up Hemet community

HEMET, Calif.

Eric Sargeant Jr. was a few steps away from a friend's home in Hemet on Monday when he was brutally attacked.

The 16-year-old boy's mother, Melissa Lansing, said three young men came up to him in the afternoon at the corner of Acacia Avenue and Cherrywood Drive and demanded his cellphone. When Sargeant refused, they began to stab him.

Sergeant was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he later died in surgery.

Still raw with grief, Lansing is asking his killers to surrender.

"That's all we're asking," the grieving mother said. "Whoever did it, please come forward."

Riverside County Sheriff's County homicide investigators canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday searching for witnesses and clues.

Gail Elliote, who lives a few doors down, says she saw the suspects as they ran from the scene to a nearby field.

"I just saw a group of kids. Ruckus, you know?" Elliote said. "I glanced up because they were screaming something as they ran by this way."

Elliotte said she has watched crime in her community get worse in recent years.

The high school sophomore's murder has added to growing fears many say they are feeling.

"I walk back and forth to my friend's house right down here on the corner," Eliotte said. "It scares me because she has two 14-year-old daughters and that's the same age group. So, it worries me."

Officials said homicide in the city has declined and that it is in the process of hiring more patrol officers.

Still, for Sergeant's mother, her worst fear has come true.

"He was fun to have around and very loving," she said. "We need to find the murders that killed him. His brother and I, his family, are all missing him."

Anyone with information on the case was urged to call Riverside County Sheriff's County homicide investigators at (760) 393-3500.

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