Josué David Valdez Sarmiento is the 18-year-old US Marine Pfc from Stockton, California who is seen tackling two teens in an apparent effort to break up a fight. But the tackle is a running one from across more than 30 yards at high-speed. When he makes contact with the boys, who were fist-a-cuffs on a ball field, it appears that one at least may have been seriously injured.
The fight happened Wednesday at Edison High School. The video shows two students throwing punches before Valdez Sarmiento races toward the boys and knocks them to the ground.
The Stockton Unified School District is investigating.
When contacted, Stockton schools spokesperson Sherry Spessard told Heavy that, “While we are not able to comment on specific student matters, we can confirm that the incident that took place at Edison High School is being actively investigated.”
She said in an email that the school district “takes all matters of student safety seriously.”
The viral video has one Marine commenting “Bravo Zulu Marine,” but some condemn the young soldier’s actions. He’s been assigned to a desk so as not to engage with kids, according to reports.
Here’s what you need to know and see:
1. The Video Shows Two Teens Fighting on a Ball Field at Edison High School in Stockton When Valdez Sarmiento Rushes In & Tackles the Pair
The fight between two high school-age boys included punching and kicking. It’s not clear how long the boys had been fighting, but at least a minute or more.
What is not seen is an intervention by high school staff members. What is seen is Valdez Sarmiento racing toward them and slamming the two to the ground.
In screen-grabs, the boy in the light-colored shirt appears to be struck particularity hard.
It’s been reported on social media that he was seriously injured, but Heavy could not confirm those accounts.
2. The Marine Who Was Said to be ‘Helping Out’ During a Recruitment Program Was Praised by Marine Corps Major
The U.S. Marines Corps confirmed he is a private first class. It was reported that he was at the high school to help out a Marine recruiter.
Marine Corps Maj. Thomas Driscoll told local media that while the young Marine might have handled it better, he nonetheless was praised for his quick action.
“He saw a dangerous fight break out. Upon observing that situation, he moved over and broke up the fight. Although, the manner in which he did (could) have been improved, we are proud of Pfc. Valdez Sarmiento for his decision to intervene,” Driscoll saw quoted as saying.
Some have called out the Marines for not condemning the private’s actions.
3. On Social Media Posts of the Video, Some Marines Applauded Valdez Sarmiento, But Not All
A number of people who say they are Marines, or military, said his tackle of the boys was a legitimate, “clean hit.”
“Looked like a good double tackle to me. Took the fight out of them. Or do you prefer he goes up and politely asks them to stop?”
Marine Joseph Aaron wrote, “As a Marine I would have done the same thing.”
Others used more colorful language.
“…quit being a f*****g pussy and grow the f**k up. The staff obviously doesn’t give a shit so the Marine stepped in and handled that shit. F*****g pussies.”
“…no penalty,” wrote Blaine Cezario, adding, “he didn’t lead with his head. Clean hit.” But that added, “Yes he could have handled it differently.”
One person wrote that one a person is “fresh out of boot …and some punk-ass civilians don’t realize there’s a MARINE on patrol. Really gave him the hit stick on that one.”
Another Marine called the action, “A dick move.”
Then there’s the Navy vet who tweeted, “Bravo Zulu Marine!”
4. Was The Tackle an Excessive Use of Force? Thousands Have Weighed In
On the 209 Times post on Facebook, the outlet clarified its position when criticized for calling the use of force excessive after speaking with a Marine and a Stockton Police officer, neither of whom is named:
“…What we’re saying is the amount of force used was beyond necessary, which Marines are trained for. He’s an adult. They’re not only kids, they’re skinny ass kids that he’s way bigger than. It was a blind side equivalent to a sucker punch. Even the NFL would have sat him out for several games and fined him. Regardless of our opinion or yours, the district and parents will now surely deal with it probably costing tax payers. Also you don’t know if the kid in grey defending himself against a bulky or not. What we do know is that according to our editor, who is a Marine veteran that served in OEF/OIF, that this guy handled it worse than the actual fight. We’re not ‘complaining.’ We’re taking into account a Marine’s observation as well as that of a Stockton police officer, and education code.”
5. A Stockton School District Investigation Is Underway
Stockton schools spokesperson Spessard confirmed in an email to Heavy that the fight between two students and forceful take-down by a district alumni, Marine Valdez Sarmiento, “is being actively investigated.”
Saying schools are serious about student safety, she added: “We are committed to improving educational outcomes for all students and ensuring a safe and nurturing environment whereby all students have the opportunity to graduate college, career, and community ready.
In an initial statement issued to local media, the school district said it was “aware of the student matter that took place on 9/11/19 at Edison High School and the recording circulating on social media. We are actively investigating the situation,“ In an initial statement issued to local media, the school district said in a statement according to a local medal report.
Some are looking for action, per the above tweet and similar seen on social.
Efforts to reach Valdez Sarmiento were unsuccessful.