By Suzette Laboy Associated Press
MIAMI — The mother of a 13-year-old girl who was shot and killed while riding a school bus with her younger sister says the child was “fun loving, helpful, a happy girl,” according to a statement released by the family.
A 15-year-old boy was in juvenile detention Wednesday charged with manslaughter after police say he took the gun out of a backpack and showed it to other students during the ride to school. Investigators say he fired it once in an apparent accident, striking Lourdes Guzman.
Guzman, known as Jina to her family and friends, died later died at a Miami hospital.
“Feels like just yesterday I saw her running around in her Pamper, dancing and modeling for the camera,” mother Ady Guzman said. “Times and moments spent with Jina are memories I will cherish and keep in my heart forever.”
The boy was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon. He waived his right to appear in court Wednesday morning 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 alleged shooter’s mother Wednesday were not immediately returned.
Police have not released further information about the shooting. Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman Aida Fina-Milan said 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.
Guzman attended the charter middle school Palm Glades Preparatory Academy. Her sister went to nearby Summerville Advantage Academy.
The teen suspect attended Somerset Academy, said Lynn Norman-Teck, a spokeswoman for the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.
“The principal walked into every classroom to gauge their energy,” she said, adding that teachers were notified that all three schools made grief counselors available to students. “But it was business as usual. The goal is to remain a regular schedule as possible,” she said.
Parents of students at the charter schools contract the private school bus to transport students. Phone messages left with a number listed on the side of the bus where the shooting happened were not returned.
The school bus was not equipped with video surveillance equipment.