Highland Park, News

16-year-old arrested for allegedly murdering peer in Highland Park

Local authorities arrested and charged a 16-year-old boy on Monday with the murder of fellow teenager Omar Morales-Diaz, who was shot to death on Sunday in Highland Park.

Estiven Sarminento, of Highland Park, was taken into custody following a daylong investigation that included interviews and video surveillance, according to a media release from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.

Following his arrest, Sarminento was charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder, the release says. He will be in front of a judge for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

According to previously released police information, Diaz was walking along the sidewalk around 11:30 a.m. Aug. 13 in the 2300 block of Green Bay Road when an individual — allegedly Sarminento —approached him and shot him to death after a brief conversation.

Authorities initially said that Diaz was targeted in the attack and backed up that statement with the recent media release, which says that the two were acquittances involved in an “ongoing dispute.”

Omar Morales-Diaz, of Highwood, was a student at Highland Park High School, according to school officials. It is unclear if Sarminento was also a HPHS student.

“I want to thank you in advance for your support of our school community. The loss of one of our own young people is heart-breaking,” Principal Deborah Finn said in an email to district families.

Finn also listed the high school’s available resources, such as a drop-in center that is open noon-3 p.m. Highland Park High School’s first day is Wednesday, Aug. 16, and freshman orientation is Tuesday, Aug. 15.

District 113 Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law announced Monday via email that ”out of an abundance of caution” the school will move up its implementation of a weapons-detection system, which was approved by the board of education on Aug. 8, for the first day of school. An increased police presence will also exist at the school on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Law wrote that students may be asked to remove their computers from their backpacks while passing the weapons detectors.

A HPHS brought a firearm to school in April, causing a two-hour lockdown that was the genesis for a districtwide conversation about additional security measures.

Stay tuned as this story develops

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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