Mother hugs boy who accidentally shot daughter on US school bus in court
The pair will tour schools together in Miami to talk about the danger of gun violence
Friday 13 June 2014
A mother has forgiven the teenage boy who accidentally shot her daughter dead on a US school bus, hugging him in court as they both broke down in tears.
Lourdes "Jina" Guzman-DeJesus, 13, was killed in November 2012 on her way to school in Miami after Jordyn Howe brought his stepfather’s gun on their bus.
Apparently wanting to show the weapon off, he let friends including Lourdes play with it believing it was safe.
When he took a shot at the floor, there was no discharge, but when he pulled the trigger pointing at Lourdes, he shot her in the neck, the Miami Herald reported.
The victim’s mother, Ady Guzman-DeJesus, was in court to hear Howe, now 16, plead guilty to manslaughter and illegal firearm possession on Tuesday.
A statement read out to the court said: “She will never have opportunity to have a child, to bear me a grandchild, because of stupid gun violence,” the Miami Herald reported.
In an extraordinary gesture of forgiveness, Mrs Guzman-DeJesus, who has three other children, approved a lighter sentence for her daughter’s killer that includes him touring schools with her to warn children of the dangers of gun violence.
The pair hugged in court, as Howe fought back tears while trying to say sorry to his friend’s mother.
After the hearing, Mrs Guzman-DeJesus told reporters her daughter would not want her to pursue the harshest sentence.
She said: “Justice is already done – it feels like I’m ready to forgive him.”
Her lawyer, Ron Book, said she is trying in her daughter’s name to help ensure children understand gun laws and why they are there.
He added: “Nothing’s going to bring Jina back but at the end of the day through the two of them going into classrooms, they can deter children from bringing handguns to school.”
Mr Book claimed Howe had brought the handgun that killed the teenager to school for 30 days before the accident and wants schools to do more to avoid another tragedy.
The boy was sentenced to one year in a youth detention centre, where he will have to complete vocational training, and will remain under the supervision of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice until the age of 21.
As well as undergoing psychological counselling and random drug testing, he will have to speak to schools at least 12 times a year.
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