A 13-year-old girl was shot to death while riding a school bus south of Miami after another student pulled a gun out of his backpack and displayed it before firing at her once, police said Wednesday.
Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus, identified as Lourdes Guzman in an arrest document obtained by the Los Angeles Times, was airlifted Tuesday morning to Miami Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her 7-year-old sister was riding on the same bus and may have witnessed the shooting.
A 15-year-old boy from Homestead, Fla., was taken into custody and faces felony charges of manslaughter and carrying a concealed firearm.
The manslaughter charge leaves open the legal possibility that the shooting was an accident. Miami-Dade County police did not respond to a request for comment, and the state prosecutor's office demurred, saying the case was still under investigation.
“We have 21 days to decide whether or not he will be charged as an adult,” Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney spokeswoman Terry Chavez told the Los Angeles Times. “We have not made that decision. We are gathering all the information we can gather to make that determination.”
It is Times policy not to name juveniles in criminal cases unless they are charged as an adult.
The boy is a student at Somerset Academy Silver Palms, a charter school in the southern Miami suburb of Homestead, police said in the arrest document. He'd been taken into custody immediately after the shooting and gave police a sworn statement about what happened after being told of his right to remain silent, police said.
According to the Miami Herald, his parents appeared in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Angelica Zayas at an arraignment Wednesday morning, where Zayas appointed a public defender for him.
A police spokesman told reporters Tuesday that Guzman was a student at Palm Glades Preparatory Academy.
“Feels like just yesterday I saw her running around in her Pampers, dancing and modeling for the camera,” Guzman's mother, Ady DeJesus, said in a statement to the Herald. “Times and moments spent with Jina are memories I will cherish and keep in my heart forever. ... I have and always will be proud of her.”
After the shooting Tuesday, friends began leaving condolences on a Facebook profile bearing the name Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus and posting photos of her on their own profiles.
“Cool, Loving, Goofy, Artist, Love Drama, Dancing,& Singing, what can i say I am ME," the profile's about-me section reads. "Got to love me (: ♥ ”
With ♥'s of their own, friends told her they loved her and told her to rest in paradise.