Concerts help victims of Atwater area party shooting

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comApril 20, 2013 

— A shooting that left three teenagers dead recently prompted a set of concerts aimed at increasing awareness about youth violence.

The program is called "Jam for Sam" and is named after Samantha Parreira, who was shot and killed last month at a party outside of Atwater.

Over the past couple of weeks, shows have been played at various locations, including H&W Family Drive-In and J&R Tacos.

The reggae band A Sunset at Oakhurst is one of those playing at the events.

Nik Cardenas, lead vocalist and guitar player in the band, said he lived next to Parreira and wants to raise awareness to help prevent youth violence.

"I've been to too many funerals, and I've always wanted to do something like this, but now it's directly hit home," he said.

Desireé Parreira, Samantha's mother, said donations at the show will go toward funeral expenses and hospital bills.

"I can't believe the support the community has given to my Samantha," she said. "They're doing this for a young life that was taken tragically."

Desireé Parreira also expressed sympathy to the families of the two other victims.

"No parent should have to face this with their child," she said. "My heart goes out to the other families as well."

Desireé Parreira thinks there's a youth violence problem in the area. She thinks there should be more of a focus on educating kids about staying away from bad influences.

"It's an ongoing problem," she said. "It's not going to stop unless we start getting the word out about this stuff. You don't realize how serious it is until it comes to your front door and they ask you 'Is this your child?' "

She also thanked the community and businesses supporting the Jam for Sam events.

Samantha Parreira was one of the three people killed in the shooting on the 9200 block of Westside Boulevard in the Atwater area.

The Merced County coroner's office identified the two other victims as Matthew Fisher, 19, and Bernabed Hernandez-Canela, 18.

The shooting happened about 11 p.m. after a group of people approached a rival gang at a party near a residence, according to law enforcement. Multiple shots rang out after a confrontation.

Two other males, ages 16 and 21, were wounded during the shooting and were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Though the shooting has been labeled as gang-related, Desireé Parreira said her daughter wasn't involved in gangs.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or

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