A public memorial service will be held Sunday in remembrance of 16-year-old Samantha Parreira, who was killed in a shooting along with two other teens March 30.
The memorial will take place at 5 p.m. near the rose garden at Applegate Park, located near M and 27th streets in Merced.
Sunday will mark one year since Parreira was killed in what authorities consider a gang-related shooting while she attended a party in the 9200 block of Westside Boulevard in the Atwater area.
Sheriff’s detectives said the shooting happened after a group of people approached a rival gang at a party. Multiple shots rang out after a confrontation and Samantha was struck in the upper right chest.
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Matthew Fisher, 19, and Bernabed Hernandez-Canela, 18 were also killed in the shooting. The victims’ killer has not been caught.
Desiree Parreira, Samantha’s mother, hopes the memorial will keep her daughter’s memory alive and remind people that “acts of violence against innocent lives happen every day.”
“The kids are killing each other, and we have to start educating these young people. We have to show them that there are other avenues of release in the community besides gangs,” Desiree Parreira said.
Desiree and her family have started raising community awareness about violence against teens. A family friend’s band has held concerts at local eateries and venues such as J&R Tacos and The Partisan in honor of Samantha and other teens who have lost their lives to violence.
Carol Romero, Samantha’s aunt, has been key in organizing those events.
“This has been one of the most tragic things that’s happened in Merced,” she said. “A lot of teens have lost their lives because of gang violence, not just Samantha. We haven’t had any success in finding who is responsible for this, so we still don’t have any closure. This memorial is just a way for us to to put the word out that something has to be done.”
The memorial will include friends and family reading poems, and a pastor from The Clay Church in Merced will read Scripture from the Book of Corinthians. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for sunset. People are asked to bring flowers, which will be brought to Turlock Memorial Park, where Samantha is buried next to her father.
Family and friends will gather earlier in the day to hold signs with antiviolence and antigang messages.
Romero hopes the memorial in honor of her niece will become an annual event.
According to Deputy Delray Shelton, sheriff’s department spokesman, deputies are not releasing additional details about the case, which remains open and is being investigated. He encourages anyone with information to contact sheriff’s detectives at (209) 385-7472. Tips are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.