The mother of a 13-year-old girl fatally shot on a private school bus in Homestead, Fla., in front of her little sister on Wednesday said she wants answers.
“How did it happen? How did he have it on him? How did nobody notice?” said Ady DeJesus during a press conference, as she cried and appeared shaken. “I want answers myself.”
Lourdes Guzman, 13, known as Jina to her family and friends, was shot while riding a private school bus about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Southwest 296th Street and Southwest 137th Avenue in Homestead, police said. Eight other children, including Guzman's 7-year-old sister, were on the bus at the time of the shooting, which appears to have been an accident.
Jordyn Alexander Howe, 15, was charged with manslaughter in the shooting and carrying a concealed firearm, authorities said. He waived his right to appear at a Wednesday morning hearing in juvenile court, where he was represented by a public defender.
Howe will remain at the Miami-Dade juvenile assessment center, a judge ruled. According to Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts spokeswoman Eunice Sigler, the state plans to prosecute Howe as an adult.
The judge set the next court date for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11.
A telephone message left for his mother wasn't immediately returned.
Terry Chavez, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, wouldn't comment on whether anyone else would face charges but said they're still investigating the shooting.
"It's very complicated, there are a lot of things left to take care of," Chavez said.
According to an arrest form, the children were on their way to school when Howe took the firearm out of his backpack and displayed it. The gun went off, hitting Guzman, a student at Palm Glades Preparatory Academy.
Guzman was airlifted to Miami Children's Hospital where she later died, police said. No other children were injured and Howe was immediately taken into custody.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Ady DeJesus described her daughter as the “most wonderful girl in the whole wide world.” She said her daughter was very smart, nice and happy.
Students and parents arriving at Palm Glades Wednesday morning remembered Guzman as a girl who got along with everybody.
"She was like a sister to me," said seventh-grader Daniel LaRosa "Nobody would ever get in a fight with her." He remembered Guzman as being funny and having trouble with division in their math class.
"I just know it's gonna be different. Like, I'm not seeing her anywhere else ... that's just a nightmare," LaRosa said. "I just know I gotta stay up and don't put my head down."
Henry Martinez, an eighth-grader at the school, said he didn't know Guzman but brought white balloons to school to release in her memory. "I care," he said.
"It's sad," said one father, who only gave his first name, Robert, as he dropped his daughter off at the school. He said it was hard to explain the shooting to his daughter.
At the site of the shooting, friends made a small memorial for Guzman, leaving flowers, candles, stuffed animals and messages for the teen.