Killings In Safe Spaces: Girl's Death Takes Its Place Among South Florida School Attacks
Fifteen-year-old Jordyn Alexander Howe boarded the school bus with a loaded gun in his backpack. He pulled it out, it went off and fatally wounded fellow student Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus, 13.
Miami-Dade police say the shooting on a charter school bus in Homestead was an accident. Howe was charged with manslaughter and carrying a concealed firearm. He spent the night at the Miami-Dade Juvenile Assessment Center.
According to a Miami Herald story, Lourdes' sister witnessed the shooting:
Lourdes and her younger sister were among eight students on the private bus bound for three Homestead area charter schools: Palm Glades Preparatory Academy, where Lourdes was a student; Summerville Advantage Academy, which her sister attended; and Jordyn’s school, Somerset Silver Palms.
The shooting occurred about 6:45 a.m. as the bus was traveling at Southwest 296th Street and 137th Avenue in Homestead, according to Miami-Dade police. The gun was recovered at the scene.
“I still haven’t been able to cope with it,” said parent Gilberto Canino as he arrived at Palm Glades Preparatory Academy to pick up his two children. “I don’t understand how this could happen.”
Understandably or not, deadly student-on-student violence in school settings has occurred regularly if infrequently in South Florida in recent years. Some victims we remember:
Jamie Rodrigo Gough, stabbed to death by classmate Michael Hernandez at Southwood Middle School in 2004. The school now celebrates Peace Week during the February anniversary week of the murder in memory of Jaime.
Amanda Collete, shot to death in 2008 at Fort Lauderdale Dillard High School by classmate Teah Wimberley over a misunderstood relationship. Both girls were 15 at the time. Wimberley was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Juan Carlos Rivera, also stabbed to death, this time after an altercation with classmate Andy Rodriguez at Coral Gables High School in 2009. Rodriguez was sentenced to 40 years in prison and the Miami-Dade school board offered Juan Carlos' parents a settlement of $1.8 million.
Josie Lou Ratley did not die after a savage beating and stomping at the hands of classmate Wayne Treacy at Deerfield Beach Middle School in 2010, but that was just good luck. She suffered life-altering brain damage as a result of the assault that followed an angry exchange of text messages with Treacy. Despite evidence of mental illness, Treacy was sentenced to 20 years.
Tuesday's victim in Homestead was an honor roll student from a large and loving family. Lourdes' mom, nursing home worker Ady DeJesus, remembered her daughter in this statement.
“Feels like just yesterday I saw her running around in her Pamper, dancing and modeling for the camera,” she said. “Times and moments spent with Jina are memories I will cherish and keep in my heart forever.”