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Arrests made in deadly shooting of teen in San Diego's Mount Hope

Posted at 10:14 AM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 19:39:46-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Three young men and a teen were arrested in connection with a shooting in the Mount Hope area that left a 14-year-old boy dead, San Diego Police announced Tuesday.

The deadly shooting occurred at around 4:15 p.m. Monday in the 3500 block of J Street, SDPD officials said.

Tuesday, family members identified the 14-year-old as Erick Balanzar.

Police said a Balanzar was walking with several others on 36th Street, near J Street, when a gray or silver SUV approached them. Moments later, at least one shot was fired from the vehicle, hitting Balanzar.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital. No other people were struck by gunfire.

Tuesday, the teenager’s parents, siblings, and loved ones returned to the area where he was shot to pray for him.

“Really heartbroken, he was always with me,” said Perla Balanzar, the victim’s older sister. “He would support me all the time; every time I called, he would always pick up no matter what he was doing.”

Perla Balanzar said her brother was a student at King Chavez High School downtown; he loved cars, family, and friends.

“He was a really good boy, always smiling, always cracking jokes,” she said. “That bullet wasn’t for him; it was his luck. It could have happened to any of the kids he was with.”

Perla Balanzar believes the suspects were following her brother and his friends Monday.

“From what I heard is, they were following them since when they got out of school,” she said. “We want justice. We want them to pay for what they did; he was obviously a little kid, they were grownups, they obviously know what they’re doing, and we want justice for this.”

The family has started a GoFundMe account to help with expenses, memorials, and stability.

SDPD officials said: “Officers recognized that this plate matched a Toyota Highlander that was involved in an incident earlier in the day. At 3:35 p.m., San Diego Unified School Police were addressing a fight and large crowd at 1155 C Street and requested cover from San Diego Police. Some of the members of the crowd left in the silver Toyota Highlander.

At 5:07 p.m., Mid-City patrol officers located the Toyota Highlander at 4600 Utah Street, with a group of males around the vehicle. Officers detained two of the group connected to the vehicle. An unknown number of the group fled on foot. Eventually two who fled were located in a nearby apartment and taken into custody without incident.”

Police identified the suspects as 18-year-old Bryan Escobedo; 19-year-old Ethan Peaslee-Guerrero; 18-year-old Omar Morales; and a 17-year-old male.

According to police, the three adults were booked into San Diego County Jail, while the teen suspect was taken to Juvenile Hall. The San Diego County District Attorney’s office said the three adult suspects are scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.