A teenage boy faces charges including manslaughter after fatally shooting a 13-year-old girl on a private school bus in Homestead Tuesday in front of her sister and other students, Miami-Dade Police said.
Police said the 15-year-old boy also faces a charge of carrying a concealed firearm, police said.
Authorities said the shooting appears to have been an accident, and it is likely that no one else will face charges.
The girl, who was identified as Lourdes Guzman, was airlifted to Miami Children’s Hospital after the 6:45 a.m. shooting, and she later died, Miami-Dade Police said. It wasn’t immediately known where she was shot.
The incident happened while the two were en route to school, police said. The boy took out the firearm from his backpack and then began displaying it, according to the arrest form.
“The defendant discharged the firearm one time shooting the victim,” an officer wrote in the affidavit.
Police said the boy was also a student, and that the firearm was recovered at the scene.
About eight other children were riding the bus when the shooting happened in the area of Southwest 296th Street and Southwest 137th Avenue, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said. The other children were not injured.
“They were able to immediately determine that the shooting occurred inside the bus, and that the alleged shooter was also inside the bus,” Zabaleta said. “He was immediately taken into custody. He was detained, placed in a police car. We were able to recover the firearm.”
The girl had a 7-year-old sibling on the bus as well, police said. All the other children were transported to the Homicide Bureau for questioning.
On Tuesday evening, mourners gathered at the scene of the shooting.
“It was heart wrenching to know this could have been anybody,” said parent Heather Manuel. “Just a year younger than my daughter and in my son’s class.”
Guzman’s best friend, Isabel Paillere, told NBC 6 South Florida her friend is very missed.
“I just miss her a lot already, it’s only been a few hours,” she said. “I hope she’s in a better place right now.”
Meanwhile, parents picked up their children from Miami Police headquarters in Doral after they were interviewed. A mother who would only give her name as Luby said she was happy her child was alive and glad to have her back.
The victim was a student at Palms Glades Preparatory Academy and the younger sibling attended Summerville charter school, police said.
Meanwhile, at Palm Glades parents showed up to see how their children were doing. Some of them were very emotional. The principal of the school said the private bus was contracted by parents.
The bus company, Yelimar and Portieles, wouldn’t immediately comment.
Lynn Norman-Teck, a spokeswoman for Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools, said the bus was servicing three schools: Somerset Academy Silver Palms, Palm Glades Preparatory Academy and Summerville school. .
She added that Somerset had called in grief counselors for the children at school as a precaution, and once the school administration heard about the shooting, the principal went to the classrooms to make sure the children were OK.
Fabian Otero said he was relieved his son Christian, an eighth-grader at Palm Glades, rode to school with his wife. He said he and his wife have been shaken by the killing and are going to discuss enrolling their son in a different school or possibly homeschooling him.
“I was stunned! I was stunned!” he said. “That hits really close to home. That’s just scary.”
Many of the students had not heard about the shooting and the school did not make an announcement before school was dismissed, but word started to trickle out as they walked outside to waiting school buses.
Thirteen-year-old Eric Carillo said he was in the same class as the victim a few years ago.
“She was a good girl. She was fun,” the 13-year-old said.
Sarah Baer said she wouldn’t let her daughter walk home from school because there are rough neighborhoods a few blocks away.
“I always take my daughter to and from school. This is so heartbreaking especially right before Thanksgiving,” she said.
The school bus was not equipped with video surveillance equipment.
Maria Romero is a mother whose two girls were on the bus.
“I was worried the whole time, but when I got here and they’re OK, it’s a big relief,” she said.
Earlier, Romero said her two children, and other children on the bus, were talking to police about the shooting. Some of the kids were put into a Miami-Dade Police van.
Some parents picked up their children and brough them to school. Shortly after the incident, several backpacks could be seen next to the school bus.
Check back with NBC 6 South Florida for updates.