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One thing Jenifer Medeiros could always count on was getting a text message from her 15-year-old son, Nate Torres, whenever he went out.

The Windsor High School sophomore was true to form Saturday night when he attended a party with friends at a house near the Town Green. He sent frequent texts, including a final message at 10:30 p.m. saying he would be home soon.

"The last thing he said was, 'I love you mom,' " Medeiros said. "He always said 'I love you mom.' "

But he never came home. Around midnight, Medeiros said she got a phone call from someone who said her son had been shot at the party on Windsor Road.

She rushed to the house, getting there as police arrived, just in time to see her son being hauled away in an ambulance.

Medeiros followed the ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where she waited for five hours outside the emergency room, hoping Nate would be OK.

But he wasn't. Early Sunday morning, a detective came out and told her Nate was dead, she said.

"He was my best friend," said the single mother of four boys, breaking down as she looked at pictures of Torres and his twin brother, Daniel. "I literally raised him on my own my whole life."

Investigators remained silent for a third straight day about details of the attack or a motive for the shooting, but Sonoma County Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Basurto said detectives are trying to determine whether the slaying was motivated by gang issues.

"We are investigating this as a possible gang-related homicide, but I can't get into details. We need to confirm some things," said Basurto, who is supervising the investigation.

Medeiros on Tuesday tried to make sense of what she believes to be a random act of violence that took her son's life. Family members believe the teenager was shot and killed by someone who tried to crash the party and was bounced out.

Comforted by Daniel Torres as well as her own brother and sister, she sat in her darkened Santa Rosa apartment Tuesday, bouquets of flowers and cards from well-wishers spread out on a kitchen counter. She said police had not yet interviewed her or explain what they think happened.

"It's an investigation," she said. "That's all they told me."

Basurto said 10 to 15 detectives are working on the case, many being pulled from other investigative assignments.

"We're working round the clock. This is an ongoing, hot investigation," he said, referring to active leads.

Detectives have completed interviews with people from the party and now are following leads within Sonoma County, Basurto said. He declined to reveal much more, saying investigators still are trying to determine what happened.

"I can't disclose too much… for the integrity of the case," he said.

Such killings in Windsor are rare — Sunday's slaying was the first since a man was beaten to death in 2009.

"It's always shocking when it's a juvenile," Basurto said. "It makes the guys, deep down inside, work a little bit harder when it's a kid who was killed. A lot of us have kids the same age as that boy."

Windsor Police Chief Chris Spallino also coaches the Windsor High School junior varsity football team. Torres, who just finished his freshman year at Windsor High, was a team member and would have been at practice this week.

Spallino set aside time during Monday's practice for the team to talk. He declined to give details of the discussion, saying it was a personal matter for the teen's friends and teammates.

"We took time to come together and discuss what happened," Spallino said.

Tuesday the house where the shooting occurred was quiet. No one answered the door and outside was a small shrine of red heart-shaped balloons, candles and flowers and photos of Torres.

But early Sunday, the house was full of people when shots were fired out front, hitting four, including Torres, who was struck in the chest.

Windsor firefighters called to Sunday's shooting scene gave the boy CPR, trying to keep him alive, while the three other victims were treated for gunshot wounds to their legs and hands. All four were put into ambulances and taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The surviving shooting victims, ages 17, 21, and 24, all are Windsor residents.

Torres' family says the boy was not involved in gangs. His father is serving time in state prison on gang-related charges. Nate Torres has steered clear of trouble himself, his mother said.

"He doesn't have much to do with his father," she said.

Nate Torres, a standout athlete, also excelled in wrestling and basketball, his mother said. He was part of a close-knit family that included his twin and brothers Gabe, 16, and Kaleb, 11.

"Literally, my kids live a square life," said Medeiros, a Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital worker. "We go to work, practice and come home and have dinner. There's no time for anything else."

His grandmother, Gloria Torres of Windsor, who cared for the boys after school, showed off his awards as a group of teenage girls dropped by her house to express condolences. She said he was outgoing, friendly and always obeyed his mother.

"Everyone loved him," she said. "He was very respectful."