Father says bully stomped on 12-year-old’s chest before he died

Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 16:22:22-04

COLTON, Calif. -- The parents of a 12-year-old boy who died after playing soccer Tuesday during a physical education class at an elementary school in California said a school bully stomped on their son’s chest before he lost consciousness.

Dominick Gallegos is seen in a photo provided by family members.

Joel Gallegos said his son Dominick was playing on a field at Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School just before the school day ended when the incident occurred.

School officials told him that Dominick had fallen and lost consciousness after running into another student, Gallegos told KTLA on Wednesday.

Dominick was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Katie Orloff, a spokeswoman for the Colton Joint Unified School District, confirmed that a student had died and said a crisis team was at the school Wednesday. She did not provide any details of what had occurred.

"Everybody here is trying to do their best to support each other and work through it as the community that we are." Orloff said.

Detectives were sent to the hospital and ruled out any type of assault or physical injury that may have happened at the school, according to Colton Police Department Officer Todd Smith, the school's resource officer.

Smith said investigators were waiting for a report from the county coroner's office.

However, Dominick’s father talked to his son's friends who witnessed the incident and believes his son was kicked by another student.

A sign for Dominick is seen during a vigil held on April 12, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The students told Gallegos that Dominick slipped when he went to pick up a soccer ball and another student, who Gallegos said has a reputation for being a school bully, stomped on his son’s chest twice and Dominick lost consciousness.

"I guess the kid thought he was playing around. He started shaking him to wake up," Gallegos said.

But that's when the bell ending to school day rang and the boy just took off, Gallegos said.

"I don't know where the teachers were," said Gallegos, who felt his son should have been better supervised during the class. "Someone should have been watching those kids."

Gallegos and the boy's mother both said their son had no health problems and recently had a physical.

"This kid did it on purpose," said Gallegos.

The father said he asked his son’s friends if Dominick had a problem with the other boy prior to the incident, but the friends said, "No, that's just the way that kid is.”

Gallegos said he wanted to help police with their investigation but they had yet to speak with him.

"He was my only son," Gallegos said, starting to cry.

On Tuesday night, about 100 parents and students had gathered at the school, but no one who spoke to a KTLA reporter was able to say exactly what had happened, only that a student had died early that day.

The district superintendent was present Tuesday evening and said he had no comment and wanted to respect the family's privacy. He said the district would send out a press release Wednesday.