It was shortly after 9 p.m. when police say 14-year-old Brian DeLeon was bludgeoned in the head while walking in the 2900-block of W. Bloomingdale.
Police say he was beaten with some type of an object, perhaps a baseball bat or a sledgehammer. His head wound was so severe, police initially thought the victim might have been shot.
DeLeon is in a coma at Children's Memorial Hospital.
The teenager had just left the home of his girlfriend, police say, and they were talking on the phone when the girlfriend heard a commotion and then the phone hung up. Police say the girlfriend went out to look for DeLeon and found him lying on the ground unconscious.
"This shouldn't happen to anybody's kid. And he's a good kid," said Joel Vasquez, father of DeLeon's girlfriend.
Vasquez says DeLeon left his home after the two teens had finished their homework.
"When my wife parked the car, she said I'll take you home and he's like no, I just live right there, so my daughter walked him halfway down the street," he said.
"It's horrible, absolutely horrible. Kids nowadays it seems have no consideration for life," said neighbor Kevin Lobianco. "To do that to a 14-year-old kid, or even an adult for that matter, it's crazy. It really is nuts."
Police say it does not appear DeLeon was involved in gangs, but relatives fear he may have been the victim of a gang-related attack.
"He was late. We were worried about him. Last night, his girlfriend came and told us that gangbangers hit him in the head and he was in the hospital," said Christyan Velasquez, the victim's stepbrother.
"There's some gang activity around here, and there are some shootings from time to time, but it's a lot better than it was 10 years ago," Lobianco said.
DeLeon had just started high school at the Phoenix Military Academy on South Campbell after graduating last spring from Yates Elementary School near his home. Teachers and administrators at Yates are devastated.
"The most wonderful child that any parent or any principal could ever want, kind, loving, good-natured, quiet, a good student," said Yates Elementary School Principal Harry Randell.
Randell says DeLeon had paid him a visit on Monday, bbrimming with pride over his new military school uniform.
"He was very excited about being in high school, being in the Marine military academy, and he was just overwhelmed with joy of starting high school," said Randell.
Police hope to garner clues from nearby surveillance cameras on West Bloomingdale, which neighbors say is isolated by a train overpass.
"It's scary. Especially at night, the lighting's not good, and there are very few houses that are along especially this stretch where this happened. So you're kind of out there by yourself," said Robert Cole, nearby employee.