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Youth pastor praised for stepping into fight
City officials took time from Monday's City Council meeting to publicly commend Johnny Montalvo, a youth pastor from Ceres, for his role in heading off a fight that turned into an internet sensation last week and landed a Ceres mother in jail.

Montalvo was driving down Agresti Lane on a Friday in mid-February and stopped after seeing two 14-year-old boys fighting in a yard as Jennifer Zuniga, 33, stood by and provoked the fight.

Police Chief Art deWerk praised Montalvo as an "example of an outstanding community member."

"What is the issue is that we have a society that is digressing in terms of its overall civility and I don't think there are many people who would argue with me about that," said deWerk. Instead of turning the other way, said deWerk, Montalvo got involved to stop the fight.

"Not only did his presence and his intervention stop that fight but he also used his wisdom and questioned the morality and ethics of it right then and there," said deWerk.

Before the meeting started Montalvo, whose Victory Outreach ministry goes into rough neighborhoods to reach out to troubled youth, said "it actually hasn't been the first time I've done that. We work with a lot of at-risk kids."

What drew Montalvo, he said, was witnessing one of the boys getting beat up. He said Mrs. Zuniga's defense of her actions "kind of got me upset.

"The one kid who was getting beat up, his argument was, you know, it's about respect," said Montalvo. "I was like, 'Look at what respect is getting you. Wanting to fight for respect? It seems like you're getting beat up. Hey, you fought and expressed yourselves. Just go home.' Then I talked to her son, saying it's not the path to go. Out on the streets you could get into a fight with the wrong person who doesn't care about you and end up hurting you. Her son ended up nodding."