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Student Shot Dead in School's ROTC Room

DA says Texas teen mistakenly killed friend
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2020 12:59 AM CST
DA: Texas Teen Mistakenly Killed Friend in School
Students watch from across the street as authorities respond to a shooting at Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.   (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

A 16-year-old student mistakenly shot his friend in their Houston-area high school’s ROTC room before fleeing and being arrested several hours later, officials say. The two were in a room at Bellaire High School with four other students but no adult Tuesday afternoon when the 16-year-old took a semi-automatic pistol out of his waistband and pulled the trigger, killing 19-year-old Cesar Cortes, says Lt. Greg Bartlett. The suspect, whose name wasn't released, fled the scene after the shooting and was arrested about 3.5 hours later, authorities say. He was charged as a minor with manslaughter, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Bartlett says that the shooter confessed to other students but has not admitted guilt to the police nor helped in their investigation.

District Attorney Kim Ogg said that based on evidence gathered so far, the shooting does not appear to have been intentional, the AP reports. She said the students were part of the school's ROTC program and there is no indication that they'd been fighting before the shooting. "They were friends," Ogg said. "Pulling a trigger on a gun, whether you know if it’s loaded or not, is an intentional act. But he did not, based on the evidence we have right now, intend to kill his friend." Authorities are still looking for the gun, which Bartlett says the student brought from home. It was not school property nor issued by the ROTC, he says. "This is a regular kid, evidently, who is now a violent offender,” Ogg said of the shooter. "Whether he meant to be violent or not, he killed somebody. And that somebody was a son, and a student, and a friend, and it’s our community's collective loss."

(Read more Texas stories.)

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