Afternoon Newsletter

April 2, 2013

VIDEO: Three teens killed in Saturday shooting near Atwater identified

Desiree’ Parreira received an unexpected knock on her door the morning of Easter Sunday.

Two Merced County Sheriff’s detectives stood on the other side, getting ready to deliver the news that no mother should ever hear.

Her 16-year-old daughter, Samantha Parreira, was dead from an apparent shooting at a party the night before. "They asked if they could come in, and they told me they had a picture they needed me to look at," Parreira said through tears.

"They said, 'we need to know if this is your daughter or not.' So I sat down and they showed me the picture and it was my Sammi. It was my Sammi."

Samantha Parreira had been shot in the upper right chest, but the bullet went through her right lung, into her liver and kidney before lodging into her spine.

Parreira said her daughter was on life support at Memorial Hospital in Modesto, before she made a heart-wrenching decision.

"I had to make a decision to turn off the ventilator on my daughter,” Parreira said. “I turned it off at 11:30 a.m. and she left us at 12:13 p.m. Her heart kept beating for an hour after the ventilator was turned off."

Samantha Parreira was one of the two victims killed in a shooting Saturday night in the 9200 block of Westside Boulevard in the Atwater area.

The Merced County Coroner's Office on Tuesday identified the two other victims as Matthew Fisher, 19, and Bernabed Hernandez-Canela, 18.

As gunshots were being fired, Samantha tried running from the scene, according to her friends — but she was struck by a bullet.

"She told her friend, 'I've been shot, we've got to get to the hospital. I’m not going to make it,'" Parreira said.

According to sheriff’s detectives, the shooting happened about 11 p.m. after a group of people approached a rival gang at a party near a residence. 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 injuries that were not life-threatening.

Authorities said Saturday's shooting was gang-related, although it’s unclear whether the victims themselves had any connections with gangs.

But the grieving mother said on Tuesday she wants to clear her daughter's name. "She was not involved in gangs,” Parreira said. "My daughter knew better. What took place that night, whether it was gang-related or not, I don’t know. But my Sammi was not involved with gangs at all."

Carol Romero, Samantha's aunt, said her niece was "vivacious and full of life" and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Samantha was not involved with what happened that night," she said. "They took an innocent life, and no one deserves that." The family said Samantha wanted to be an artist, and was incredibly talented at drawing.

"She was beautiful," Parreira said. "She had so much charisma and talent. She loved to dance and swim, and loved music."

Eric Cagle, Samantha's stepfather, said what he'll remember most about Samantha is her smile.

Babette Cagle, Samantha's grandmother, said she was like the daughter she never had. "Sammi was one of the girls I never had, and I’m going to miss her."

Samantha’s family said they're planning several fund-raisers to help cover the cost of her services, including one on Thursday at Baby Boyz Customs on G Street. There will also be a fundraiser at J&R Tacos at 7 p.m. Friday night.

They are also anxiously waiting for Samantha's killer to be caught — so they can have closure.

"They can't go unpunished for this. They took my baby from me," Parreira said. "My Samantha, who did nothing wrong to anybody, who was a good kid."

"Her life was cut short over something stupid. And I hope when they are caught, their life is spent behind bars, knowing they took my baby’s innocent life." she said.

Parreira's family members said donations to assist with her funeral expenses can be sent to Whitehurt-Norton-Dias Funeral Service, 286 W. Main St., Turlock, CA, 95380.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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