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Willits Teenager Stabbed —Suspect Faces Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charge

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*WARNING*—Readers beware, there are graphic photographs in this article depicting the wounds suffered by the victim in the described circumstance.

Around 2:00 p.m. on January 27, 2022, a dust-up between two teenage boys turned into a medical emergency when one wielded a knife, cutting and stabbing his opponent. The victim was hospitalized, and Willits Police Department Chief Fabian Lizarraga told us investigators have identified the suspect and are in the process of contacting, interviewing, and potentially arresting him.

The mother of the teenage boy victimized by this circumstance reached out to us to tell her son’s story. Throughout this piece, the names of the mother and the two teenage boys will be withheld to protect their identities. As Chief Lizarraga pointed out, “Kids are protected under the courts and the laws from being identified. Outside that, you don’t want to label a 15-16-year-old kid as a criminal. You want them to get better.”

The victim’s mother told us her son went to pick up a cell phone from his ex-girlfriend and the girl’s new boyfriend accompanied her. Cross words were exchanged, and the boys began to brawl north of the Little League fields.

The stakes of the teenage quarrel became deadly when the suspect pulled out a knife, which the victim’s mother described as a “retractable knife” and proceeded to cut and stab the victim.

The suspect fled, the victim sought help at the nearby Willits Charter School, and emergency services were contacted and he was taken to the hospital.

“My son received two superficial stab wounds to his back and one on his left side that was millimeters away from his intestine,” the victim’s mother told us. “The doctor said he was very lucky.”

Chief Lizarraga told us as the victim and suspect prepared to fight, the knife made an appearance and the victim communicated he no longer was interested in a physical altercation. At that point, all physical resistance on the behalf of the victim became self-defense.

Over the last month, there have been several publicized incidents regarding juveniles and local law enforcement reportedly finding them with firearms. When asked if this stabbing was part of a rising crime wave amongst local youth, Chief Lizaragga said this incident was a stand-alone circumstance and was not seen as part of a pattern. 

In discussing law enforcement’s approach towards juveniles committing violent crimes, Chief Lizarraga told us last Thursday’s incident represents a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge and a resulting great bodily injury, charges he characterized as “serious.” 

Restorative justice, a system of criminal justice that emphasizes rehabilitation through offenders reconciling with victims and the community, is often an approach used when dealing with juvenile offenders. When asked if restorative justice would be applicable in this circumstance, Chief Lizarraga said, “Restorative justice works when there is remorse. To go into a situation where you challenge someone to a fight knowing you’re going to pull out a knife, that needs to be addressed in the judicial system.”

Chief Lizarraga said a story like this is an important opportunity to remind parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors to revisit strategies to solve conflicts with the younger generation. 

This document entitled “Anger Management for Teens” could be a good guide to any adult in a young person’s life who wants to impart guidance in managing anger and productively solving conflict.

If any member of the public has information for the Willits Police Department about this incident, contact them at (707) 459-6122.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Stab you in the rib cage
    When the guards aren’t looking
    Shank you in the day yard
    Amids the fallen leaves
    Lurking in the shadows
    So I won’t be detected
    You’ll commence to bleed
    When I stick you with my shiv
    Bringing in the sheafs?

    • Get your hearing checked. Fundamentally Sean, my comment section has to be about collective input for deeper understanding. If you want to talk about the intersections of race, poverty, and criminality, I would be interested in an academic discussion. You essentializing everyone’s behavior into their race is intellectually shallow and does not contribute to a deeper understanding.

    • I can’t believe they let people like you roam with civilized people you animal! How do you know this was done by a Rez kid. No matter what race or color of their skin they do need to be stopped but damn you have some bottled up anger maybe you need help!

    • You are a master of deflection my friend. At this point I’m gonna be done with this back-and-forth, my expectations are clear. And I look forward to your voice contributing to a greater understanding. Do I think it’s gonna happen? Well… no. But, I would love to be proven wrong.

  2. Sean, clearly you read this website often and I very much appreciate your readership, but I’m done with this. Ultimatum: one more of these crude racist comments, you’re banned. Go ahead and cry a river about mainstream media and silencing yada yada yada… But I reserve the right to ban anyone off this platform.

    • Sean, you don’t bring up these race issues in a good faith examination of being a racial minority, being economically under privileged, you bring up Mexicans constantly in a strange gotcha. Don’t assert you were trying to speak some truth when your examination has no good intention behind it. I’m super willing to talk about the intersection of criminality and poverty and racial minorities, but your constant trolling about Mexicans is far from that.

  3. Thank you so much Matt LaFever for your report. I’m the victims grandmother and want justice for my grandson. I pray this doesn’t happen to others and hope he gets turned in. Someone knows where he’s at.

  4. It doesn’t matter how old these kids are. If that kid is willing to stab someone 3 times over a cell phone he needs to be removed from society for a while. California Youth Authority would be a good place to start. That way he can learn to become an actual criminal. And learn not to get caught. “Hang ‘em when they are young…” How does the old saying go? Learning how not to get caught was the best thing I ever learned in life. Almost.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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