Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Family: Girl shot on Fla. school bus was 'loving'

MIAMI — Relatives of a 13-year-old South Florida girl shot and killed while riding a school bus with her younger sister say they forgive the teen shooting suspect, "but he has to pay for what he did," the victim's mother said Wednesday while addressing the media.

A 15-year-old boy was in juvenile detention Wednesday, charged with manslaughter after police say he took a gun out of a backpack and showed it to other students during the ride to school on Tuesday. Investigators say he fired it once in an apparent accident, striking Lourdes Guzman.

The girl, known as Jina to her family and friends and identified as Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus on her Facebook page, died later at a Miami hospital.

"How did it happen? How did he have it on him? How did nobody notice?" asked the girl's mother, who identifies herself on Facebook as Ady DeJesus. "I want answers myself."

DeJesus said her daughter wanted to be a lawyer, was responsible and good at school.

The boy was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He waived his right to appear in court Wednesday and will remain in a juvenile detention center. He is not being identified by the Associated Press because of his age.

Messages left with juvenile division officials and the shooting suspect's mother were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Police have not released additional information about the shooting. Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Aida Fina-Milan said that based on the charges "it appears to have been an accident." Eight other children, including Guzman's 7-year-old sister, were on the bus but were not harmed. Authorities took the children and the bus driver to a police station to be interviewed.

DeJesus said her 7-year-old daughter called her after the shooting. "She just started screaming. And, then the bus driver started talking to me," DeJesus said.

Tuesday, the family issued a statement by the victim's mother describing the girl as "fun-loving, helpful, a happy girl." She attended Palm Glades Preparatory Academy, a charter middle school.

The teen suspect attended Somerset Academy, said Lynn Norman-Teck, a spokeswoman for the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.

Parents of students at the charter schools contract the private school bus to transport students. The school bus was not equipped with video surveillance equipment.

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