News24

US cops kill school kid with pellet gun

2012-01-05 20:00

Brownsville - The parents of a teenage student who was fatally shot by US police inside his South Texas school are demanding to know why officers took lethal action, but police said the boy was brandishing - and refused to drop - what appeared to be a handgun.

The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun that closely resembled the real thing, police said late on Wednesday, several hours after 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was repeatedly shot in a hallway at Cummings Middle School. No one else was injured.

"Why was so much excess force used on a minor?" the boy's father, Jaime Gonzalez Sr, told The Associated Press outside the family's home on Wednesday night. "Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down?"

His mother, Noralva Gonzalez, showed off a photo on her phone of a beaming Jaime in his drum major uniform standing with his band instructors. Then she flipped through three close-up photos she took of bullet wounds in her son's body - including one in the back of the head.

"What happened was an injustice," she said angrily. "I know that my son wasn't perfect, but he was a great kid."

Interim Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said the teen was pointing the weapon at officers and "had plenty of opportunities to lower the gun and listen to the officers' orders, and he didn't want to".

The chief said his officers had every right to do what they did to protect themselves and other students even though there weren't many others in the hallway at the time. Two officers fired three shots, hitting Gonzalez at least twice, police said.

Shortly before the confrontation, Jaime had walked into a classroom and punched a boy in the nose for no apparent reason, Rodriguez said. Police did not know why he pulled out the weapon, but "we think it looks like this was a way to bring attention to himself", Rodriguez said.

Probably justified

About 20 minutes elapsed between police receiving a call about an armed student and shots being fired, according to police and student accounts. Authorities declined to share what the boy said before he was shot.

The shooting happened during first period at the school in Brownsville, a city at Texas' southern tip just across the Mexican border. Teachers locked classroom doors and turned off lights, and some frightened students dove under their desks.

They could hear police charge down the hallway and shout for Gonzalez to drop the weapon, followed by several shots.

David A Dusenbury, a retired deputy police chief in Long Beach, California, who now consults on police tactics, said the officers were probably justified.

If the boy was raising the gun as if to fire at someone, "then it's unfortunate, but the officer certainly would have the right under the law to use deadly force".

A recording of police radio traffic posted on KGBT-TV's website indicates that officers responding to the school believed the teen had a handgun. An officer is heard describing the teen's appearance, saying he's "holding a handgun, black in colour."

Less than two minutes later, someone yells over the radio, "Shots fired," and emergency crews are asked to respond. About two minutes later, someone asks where the boy was shot, with the responses that he was shot in the chest and "from the back of the head."

Superintendent Carl Montoya remembered Gonzalez as "a very positive young man."

Always helpful

"He did music. He worked well with everybody. Just something unfortunately happened today that caused his behaviour to go the way it went. So I don't know", he said Wednesday.

Gonzalez Sr said he had no idea where his son got the gun or why he brought it to school, adding: "We wouldn't give him a gift like that".

He said he last saw his son around 06:30 on Wednesday, when the boy said goodbye before leaving to catch the bus to school. And he said nothing seemed amiss the night before when he, his wife and their son went out for nachos then went home and watched a movie.

Gonzalez Sr was struggling to reconcile the day's events, saying his son seemed to be doing better in school and was always helpful around the neighbourhood mowing neighbours' lawns, washing dogs and carrying his toolbox off to fix other kids' bikes.

Two dozen of his son's friends and classmates gathered in the dark street outside the family's home Wednesday night. Jaime's best friend, 16-year-old Star Rodriguez, said her favourite memory was when Jaime came to her party December 29 and they danced and sang together.

"He was like a brother to me," she said.


Comments
  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-01-05 20:12

    sounds like suicide by cop...

      Squeegee - 2012-01-05 20:15

      "Oh, he was such a nice young man.." For all the cops knew he was another crazed killer that could massacre his classmates. Don't take guns to school - not even pellet guns.

      John - 2012-01-05 23:32

      Louis, i recognize the similarity, except that his life stile does not match the suicide by cop profile. The one common item here is that spanish kids are well known to be very rude at school where political correctness lets them get away with next to murder, while behaving in a more subdued manner back at home, where parents would not hesitate to discipline them. Something similar happened at Jeppe High? The school principal took the portuguese head girl and visited the fathers of the problem kids - some of them got spanked, even punched, on the spot!

  • Boer - 2012-01-05 20:13

    Sorry but these cops are not to blame. Anyone thats crazy enough to point any gun towards any police are looking for trouble. If a cop tells you to drop your weapon you better do it cause they will take action.

      Koosie - 2012-01-05 20:42

      In SA they shoot first and ask NO questions later.....

      rbczovczov - 2012-01-06 08:09

      Given the history of gun violence in US schools,the cops had every right to take him out. remember Columbine anyone? Why did this kid bring a pellet gun instead of books to school any ways?

  • Bob - 2012-01-06 00:58

    Mass killings at schools in the USA have become an all to reality! It is sad that such a young life has been taken in this way. But who can blame the officers in the circumstances…! Split second decisions to save possibly countless other lives does not allow for time to ascertain if the gun is real or not! This youngster died as a result of his own premeditated actions and should be a clear lesson to others with similar thoughts.

      Graziella - 2012-01-06 08:12

      Mass killing by Amerikans has become an all to reality. Amerikans love killing.

  • Seducect - 2012-01-06 07:34

    Why is it when somebody dies he is always a saint suddenly?!

  • rbczovczov - 2012-01-06 08:15

    A simple case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. If the police had not acted and this kid had gone on to kill a dozen students, then we would be here today blaming the police for not taking action.

  • May - 2012-01-06 08:51

    If you draw a weapon be prepared for the consequences of your actions!! (I believe the police are 100% right)

  • Henri James Christie - 2012-01-06 08:52

    What was the idiot doing with a gun at school, pellet gun or not, no difference. He asked for trouble and got it, tough luck for him. What if he was a nut and took out some of his classmates, someone would then blame the cops for not doing anything. No sympathy from me

  • TheWatcher - 2012-01-06 10:34

    Given the history of school shootouts in the US anybody who plays around with a realistic looking gun in a school is just asking to be shot. The cops can't afford to take risks

  • WarrenStylin - 2012-01-06 12:46

    If they didn't shoot him and it was a real gun then 15 other parents would be asking...."Why didn't you use lethal force to bring him down?"

  • Dan - 2012-01-06 17:48

    Only 3 shots and two hit the target? These cops should be reprimanded -- the body should have had 28 bullets in it seeing that each cop carry 2 magazines with 7 rounds each

  • RE - 2012-01-06 19:49

    fools. i hate pigs, wish they can all just die. ffs!!!!!

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