WATSONVILLE -- As police continue to look for answers in the Friday shooting of an 18-year-old Pajaro Valley High student in a Watsonville High parking lot, Mayor Lowell Hurst on Monday was calling for more security.
Marco Ortega, 18, was shot multiple times in the upper body about 8 p.m. and died that night at Watsonville Community Hospital, police said.
Monday, school officials confirmed Ortega attended Pajaro Valley High and had attended New School previously.
Detective Sgt. Eric Taylor said Ortega was "loosely associated with a gang" and lived in North Monterey County.
He had been at Watsonville High to watch the final home match of the Pajaro Valley High School girls soccer team, which uses the Watsonville High field as its home field, police said.
Taylor said it looks like a gang crime, but they have not identified a suspect and do not know the motive. They have not connected the homicide with any other recent crime, he said.
Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst was at Watsonville High on Monday, beside a memorial to Ortega on a chain link fence that included white flowers, a photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a rosary.
Hurst was a vocational agriculture teacher at Watsonville High School for years, and the slaying was steps away from a student garden where he once taught.
"The schools could do more to ensure security," he said. "This back door to the school should have had more security, at least
Hurst added that school officials, parents, the community and law enforcement need to come together to prevent young people from becoming involved with gangs.
Watsonville High Principal Elaine Legorreta said there were two campus security guards working Friday night. She said they have a staff of three campus security guards and a school resource officer during the school day.
There were many people on campus, and someone was able to evade security and others.
"We did have security, sometimes they are just in another place," she said.
Legorreta said the campus is safe, but that they will continue working on it. She said there are surveillance cameras on campus, but not in that parking lot.
"The last thing we want is for this to happen again anywhere," she said.
Monday, a group of Pajaro Valley High students practicing soccer with a girl's club team, said Ortega's girlfriend played on the Pajaro Valley junior varsity soccer team and had given a speech at halftime on Friday. They said it was Senior Night; the last game of the season and the last for the students graduating this year.
One teen said he seemed quiet and had come to some of the team's practices.
Taylor said Ortega had walked to a somewhat isolated area in the school's parking lot off Blackburn Street next to some large storage units beside the school's tennis courts when a group of four men walked up to him and shot him.
Police were called when a friend drove him to the hospital, Taylor said.
Monday, he said police had gathered some evidence at the scene and were still tracking down witnesses and others.
"They did recover some helpful evidence, but nothing earth-shattering," Taylor said.
School officials said there was a wrestling tournament in the gym and dance in the cafeteria, as well as the soccer match.
Some at the school said they heard something, but dismissed the sound as fireworks.
Lowell called it "unbelievable" that no one called 911.
"I'm hoping more details can be fleshed out, so we can learn whatever lessons we can to find a solution to some of these gang problems," he said. "It's a terrible tragedy."
Two teens at Watsonville High, who didn't want their names used, said they had attended elementary and middle school with Ortega and that his family used to live near Brennan and East Fifth streets and had moved to the Las Lomas area.
Louis LaFortune, a teacher at New School, an alternative high school in Watsonville, said Ortega attended the school last year.
LaFortune said Ortega had some problems at New School, but that he understood he was "starting to get his life back in order."
"I was hearing good things about him," he said.
LaFortune said New School was founded as a gang prevention program and that Ortega, like many other teens, was "angry and disaffected." He said his family was "gang-involved."
The slaying is the second homicide in Watsonville this year and the third in Santa Cruz County.
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Jan. 18: Marco Topete, an 18-year-old from Watsonville, was riding a bike in an industrial area on Second Street near Walker Street in Watsonville when he was shot several times, according to police. He died at the scene. Police said Topete was not a gang member but it was a gang-motivated shooting. No one has been arrested.
Feb 9: Pauly Silva, 32, was shot several times outside a bar on the 1000 block of Cedar Street in Santa Cruz about 12:30 a.m. A 1990s Mercedes was spotted leaving the scene and its description was relayed to authorities. Watsonville police stopped the car near South Green Valley Road minutes later and detained two men. A third man was arrested in Santa Cruz. They were held on gang-related charges as police investigated their possible involvement in the shooting, police said. Silva of Santa Cruz was a plumber, a father of two and a martial arts expert. Police say he was not a gang member.
Feb. 15: Marco Ortega, 18, of Watsonville, was shot multiple times in the upper body while attending a girls soccer game at Watsonville High School around 8 p.m. He was taken to Watsonville Community Hospital, where he died. Police say he was not a gang member but was "loosely associated with a gang." No one has been arrested.