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Santa Rosa police say the victim was killed in a gang dispute

  • Students walk to Kawana Elementary School in Santa Rosa on Monday morning past a memorial site for a man who was fatally stabbed on Saturday night.

Detectives detained a suspect Monday in the death of a young man who was stabbed during a weekend fight at a Santa Rosa elementary school.

A gang dispute erupted Saturday on the grounds of Kawana Elementary School between Juan Carlos Angel-Esparza, 20, and another person while at least three others stood by, according to new details released by Santa Rosa police.

Angel-Esparza was stabbed several times but died from a direct stab to his heart, an autopsy determined Monday morning, Sgt. Steve Fraga said.

Juan Carlos Angel-Esparza Stabbing


Gang activity has been increasing on Kawana's campus, mostly between feuding gangs claiming the Moraga Drive school as their territory, police and school officials said.

But it was unclear whether the tension that erupted into the fatal fight Saturday was sparked between rivals from opposing gangs or rivals from different subsets of one gang.

"There is much reluctance with people in the know to share," Fraga said, citing a lack of cooperation among witnesses.

"We're on a full court press on this case," said Fraga, who has added detectives to the effort.

The fight began near a baseball field on school grounds sometime shortly before 5 p.m. between Angel-Esparza, who had an established history as a local street gang member, and another young man, Fraga said.

"It started off as a physical confrontation and ended up as a stabbing," he said.

Sirens in the distance scared the young men, who fled, Fraga said.

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