Cameron Lewis of Atascadero last saw her 14-year-old son Deven Brown last week when she woke him up for the school day.
Around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Brown was spotted by the security cameras leaving the family home with his maroon Vans backpack.
He hasn’t been seen by his family since.
Lewis said her son, who recently transferred from Atascadero High School to the ACE program, recently started hanging out with a rougher crowd.
It was only after her son went missing that she learned from teenagers in the area and officers from the Atascadero Police Department that the people he’s been hanging out with are reportedly part of a gang out of Porterville affiliated with the Norteños.
“I’ve never met one that says ‘I am a gang member,’ but that’s what the kids have been reporting to us,” Lewis said. “Kids are going over there and hiding out in the apartments and smoking weed and drinking.”
Lewis said she has been working with officers from the Atascadero Police Department to canvass the area near the high school where the alleged gang members have been spotted.
“I told the cops I’d do whatever it takes to bring him home,” Lewis said.
Sightings of Brown have been reported throughout the community, but he has not yet been located.
Lewis asks that anyone who sees Brown call her or the Atascadero Police Department. She asks that bystanders avoid making direct contact with him, because it may present a safety risk.
“I hope everybody is aware of (the gang) and really pay attention to where their kids are at so they don’t have to go through the heartache that I’ve gone through and other parents have gone through,” Lewis said.
The Atascadero Police Department took a report about the missing teenager on Thursday and is actively searching for the missing juvenile, according to Atascadero Deputy City Manager and City Clerk Lara Christensen.
“The Atascadero Police Department is aware that, like elsewhere in the County, there are residents in the City with gang affiliations,” Christensen wrote in an email. “The Atascadero Police Department employs a School Resource Officer (SRO) who works full-time on our school campuses. APD, through our SRO, works hand-in-hand with our schools, County Probation, and the San Luis Obispo County Gang Taskforce to provide gang education to school district employees, juveniles, and families.”
Anyone with tips is asked to call the Atascadero Police Department at 805-461-5051. Select option “0” to connect with dispatch.