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Shocked, sad mood on Golden Valley campus after student's death

A somber mood hung over Golden Valley High School students and faculty Monday after hearing of the death of one of the high school's students over the weekend.

Deangelo Smith, 17, a junior who was on the varsity wrestling team, was shot to death Friday night at the Sunnyside Apartments on D Street. Another teen, a 16-year-old boy, was also shot, but hasn't been named. His injuries weren't fatal.

"Obviously, this is a huge loss. Our counseling staff and school psychologist were ready to go this morning," said Golden Valley principal Craig Chavez. "They have been meeting students as necessary and going into classes if there was a large group of students having a problem."

Chavez said Smith was a magnetic kid. "Students who are involved in activities, like he was, and are making progress toward graduation are making the right decisions. What makes this so hard is it wasn't a natural death -- it's something that troubles everyone."

According to Lt. Bimley West of the Merced Police Department, Smith and the other teen were near a playground at the apartment complex at around 11 p.m. when four to five gunshots were fired. When officers arrived at the scene, both teens were still alive, but Smith was later pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. The other boy was taken by air ambulance to a regional medical center.

Chopper Mello, who was Smith's wrestling coach and anatomy teacher, said Smith was a respectful, hard-working student.

"He was just an outstanding kid," Mello said. "Our team is in shock."

Rayne Daley, the Merced Union High School District assistant superintendent of human resources, said what happened to Smith is not what the district wants their students to accept.

"We are deeply saddened by this," Daley said.

Mello and the wrestling team held a car wash Sunday to help raise funds for Smith's family, and more fundraisers are being planned, Chavez said.

Lt. Andre Matthews said Monday that a person was arrested in connection with the homicide on Sunday, but the department didn't release a name.

Police are asking anyone who witnessed the shooting or knows the identity of the suspects to call Detective Sgt. Scott Skinner at (209) 385-4702 or the department's automated tip line at (209) 385-4725. Callers can remain anonymous.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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