A 16-year-old suspect in the shooting death of a fellow Bellaire HS student on campus Tuesday is in custody at the Harris County Juvenile Probation Center, charged with manslaughter —although that could be upgraded — Bellaire police said Wednesday. They are also asking the public for help in locating a handgun used in the killing.
Classes were canceled for today, but faculty and staff are on campus, and district officials have said they will have additional counselors available when school resumes Thursday.
Bellaire officers helped track down the suspect and another young man hiding behind a convenience store in Meyerland about two miles from campus Tuesday night, 3 ½ hours after the shooting. While no names have been revealed, police identified the victim as a 19-year-old senior at Bellaire. He had been transported by Bellaire city firefighter-paramedics to Ben Taub Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Campus sources have said he was a leader in the school’s JROTC program.
Describing the investigation as “ongoing,” Bellaire police addressed media concerns about the slow release of information on the case, with Houston ISD deflecting questions to the BPD: “Detailed information concerning the shooting was not released immediately by the Bellaire Police Department to avoid hindering the investigation and ensure the safe capture of the suspect in a timely manner,” the Bellaire PD statement read.
According to media reports, the suspect was questioned for several hours after being apprehended but refused to give any information about the shooting.
Meantime, a Bellaire HS parent leader involved in gun safety organizations expressed “profound frustration” with Houston ISD and the state attorney-general. Swati Narayan said she was thwarted in her efforts to gain information about other reported incidents of guns on the Bellaire campus during the current school year and believes Tuesday’s tragedy might have been avoided.
“Not only does this lack of transparency from our school district and state prevent us from having a trusting relationship with them, but I have to ask myself that had the community known more, could it perhaps have served as a deterrent…maybe enough for the parent of the student with the gun to have been a little more vigilant?” Narayan asked. “We will never know.”
Crosspoint Church in Bellaire is hosting a nondenominational community vigil at 7:30 tonight (Wednesday, Jan. 15) on the Great Lawn at Evelyn’s Park, 4400 Bellaire Blvd.