Two high school students have been found dead in a car parked outside an elementary school in Hoke County, North Carolina, according to police.
Law enforcement found the teenagers on Sunday after receiving reports of a suspicious vehicle at the campus of Don Steed Elementary School, west of Fayetteville in the southern part of the state, WNCN reported.
Hoke County Schools confirmed that the students found were Britany Carolina Munoz Ramirez and Ailton Sebastian Tirado-Martinez. They were both in 11th grade at Hoke County High School in Raeford, according to district Superintendent Debra Dowless.
Dr Dowless said in a statement on Facebook: “Hoke County Schools joins our community in mourning the loss of two of our students, Britany Carolina Munoz Ramirez and Ailton Sebastian Tirado-Martinez who passed away early Sunday morning.”
“Dealing with this tragedy is going to take time, and we will be here for every student, every family, and every staff member and will continue to provide the support needed,” she added.
WRAL reported that the students had dated in the past but had stayed friends and officials don’t think there was foul play involved in their deaths.
WNCN reported that a captain with the office of the Hoke County Sheriff indicated that law enforcement believes the deaths are accidental and that the possibility of a murder-suicide has been dismissed. The sheriff’s office also appeared to rule out that drug overdose could be the cause but wouldn’t confirm nor deny the possibility that the deaths could have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The investigation is ongoing and police have said that no further information will be provided at the moment.
Yenifer Luna Luna was a friend of both of the students, telling WRAL that Britany “was always smiling, and we would always joke around”.
Leonardo Jimenez said he saw Ailton “as a brother. I wanted to be like him. I grew out my hair to be like him because he had curls. I always wanted curls”.
Antonia Nunez’s son was one of Ailton’s friends. “I know he’s a good boy,” she said.
“She’s a church girl,” she said concerning Britany. “She’s a good girl.”
“Situations like this can cause a high level of anxiety and distress for some students,” Dr Dowless said in her statement. “We are asking that families please take time to talk with their children and allow them to share their thoughts and feelings. We are focused on providing additional support and resources needed to cope with this devastating situation.”
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