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Santa Maria community group responds to surge in deadly gang violence

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Pioneer Valley High School
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Increased security and grief counseling are being offered to students at a Santa Maria high school after a 15 year old student was killed Monday.

Police said this and two other killings later that day are all gang-related.

Pioneer Valley High School student Marcos Arce Ramos suffered stab wounds during a fight about an hour after school ended for the day.

Ramos was rushed to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Santa Maria Police say 19-year-old Israel Gaspar-Cruz and an unidentified 14-year-old were arrested and are facing murder charges.

Residents said Tuesday, they are both outraged and wondering what can be done to prevent future tragedies like this.

Edwin Weaver, the executive director of Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley, an organization dedicated to a healthy and safe environment for families, said parents play a key role.

"We're encouraging parents to make sure they know where their children are. Know their friends," said Weaver. "Know their friends' parents. Get involved in their kids' academic career. Go to the school meetings. Go to the parent-teacher conferences. Get involved in the kids' lives."

Weaver also said more needs to be done by the community to address these concerns.

"We're in the middle of a crisis here, as far as the violence in our community," he said. "We're well aware of that. But we also are working very hard at addressing it as a community. I think it's important when people start asking these questions. The first one I would always ask everybody who is asking these questions- how are you contributing to the solution?"

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said an investigation is underway into the activities that led up to the violence that killed Ramos.

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