A 17-year-old Aptos boy has had part of his skull removed to relieve swelling on his brain following a horrific hammer attack carried out by a group of masked assailants.
Alex was one of three boys brutally beaten with hammers at a sleepover inside a home garage on Monte Vista Drive in the Rolling Hills neighborhood of Aptos.
KSBW is not releasing Alex's last name because he is a minor and a victim of a crime. His family gave KSBW permission to release his photographs.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help pay for Alex's medical bills.
The teens had been hanging out Sunday night inside the garage where they often play videos games.
After they fell asleep, around 1:40 a.m. Monday, a group of masked men entered and beat the three boys with hammers. The boys, ages 16, 16, and 17, all suffered head injuries.
"After the assault, the suspects stole several items and fled the area in an unknown vehicle," sheriff's Sgt. Brian Cleveland said.
No arrests have been made, and investigators said they have little information and leads to go on.
"The motive for the targeted attack remains unclear," Cleveland said.
Alex suffered life-threatening injuries and he was rushed to a trauma center.
A family friend told KSBW that doctors removed a part of Alex's skull to relieve pressure on his brain from swelling. He was re-induced into a medical coma Monday night.
On Tuesday, Alex's condition had improved enough that he was awake and talking, said the family friend, who requested to remain anonymous because the assailants are still at large. Alex's parents remain by his hospital bedside.
"Yesterday was a very stressful day. The doctor said the first three to five days are the most critical. Hopefully he continues to do well. He's young, so that's on his side," the family friend said.
"Alex's vitals are stable and his family is focused on his recovery. Thank you for your support and prayers during this difficult time," the GoFundMe page states.
The family friend told KSBW that Alex is a popular high school student who doesn't have any known enemies.
"We don't know what happened, or why. I've known Alex his entire life. It seems like a targeted situation. They knew the boys were going to bed there," the friend said.
Anyone with information on this attack is asked to call Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Sgt. Dee Baldwin at 831-454-7635.
The assailants may be between the ages of 18-20, the Sheriff's Office said. Deputies were able to obtain low-quality surveillance video of a sedan leaving the neighborhood.
Residents of the Rolling Hills neighborhood, meanwhile, remain in shock from the hammer attack.
"Yesterday we saw the yellow tapes up over here. It scared the heck out of us. We saw the sheriff and the CSI people too. And then the rumors started building up about what happened," neighbor Ted Lux said.