The deadly beating in San Jose's Roosevelt Park happened Friday night on the basketball court. Police say several suspected gang members attacked 14-year-old Heriberto Reyes.
"He used to make a lot of jokes in class and get into a lot trouble and make fun of people but in a good way, to laugh and all that," Reyes' friend Karla Gudino said.
Gudino says her friend often played basketball and it appears Reyes' father had taken him to the park on Friday, and then separated.
Police say reports that the father witnessed the attack are simply not true.
"The father was in fact unaware that his son was being assaulted; it wasn't until the assault occurred and it was after the assault that he was notified and rushed to the aid of his son," San Jose Police Ofc. Jose Garcia said.
The beating was so severe, the eigth grader died at the hospital Monday afternoon.
Reyes' death is San Jose's 13th homicide of the year and the fifth police say was gang-related.
Police believe the attack was gang motivated and people who spend a lot of time at Roosevelt Park say they heard what sparked the violence -- something red.
"The kids having out here they apparently didn't like something he was wearing," San Jose resident Beatrice Plazola said.
Reyes had recently transferred to Bernal Intermediate School. The principal says grief counselors are on hand and students are thinking about ways to honor Reyes' life.
"We'll have a moment of silence during our eighth grade graduation ceremony; we're just really saddened," Jeanette Crawford-McCuller said.
Police delayed releasing details about the crime in part because the family is devastated and needed time to process their loss. Now others are grieving as well.
"I feel sad for him and the people who did it, they don't have hearts," Gudino said.
Investigators believe there were a number of people who were not involved that saw what happened and may be scared to come forward. Police are urging anyone with information to call Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP (7867). Tips can be left anonymously.