Superintendent 'saddened and angered' in wake of Bellaire HS shooting

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With Bellaire High School closed Wednesday, a day after the shooting death of a 19-year-old student, HISD's interim superintendent acknowledged the district may not know for some time why the shooting happened.

Dr. Grenita Lathan provided a statement in the wake of the student's death. Friends of the victim identified him to ABC13 as Cesar Cortes.

READ MORE: Bellaire High School shooting suspect charged with manslaughter, victim identified

Lathan said in her statement that Bellaire High School is slated to resume classes Thursday. Here is her statement in full:

"Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of one of our students. The past 24 hours have been incredibly difficult for Bellaire High School and the Houston ISD community. A tragedy of this magnitude is difficult to comprehend. As a parent, I am deeply saddened and angered by this horrific act of violence. Details are still unfolding, and we may not know for some time why this happened. Unfortunately, HISD is not immune to the plague of gun violence afflicting school campuses nationwide.

We are committed to vigilantly protecting students and staff at our schools. HISD will continue to evaluate our security measures, as we regularly do, in order to maximize the safety of our children and staff. I want to thank all local law enforcement agencies, which acted swiftly to respond and apprehend a suspect. I am also grateful to the principal of Bellaire High School and the rest of the staff who took appropriate action to ensure no other students were physically harmed during the incident. Every child deserves a safe school environment.

Classes at Bellaire High School will resume tomorrow, January 16. Crisis counselors will be available to Bellaire students and staff for as long as they are needed. There will be additional HISD police officers on campus and patrols around the campus and extra administrative personnel to ensure the school is safe and secure."

Before the statement came out Wednesday afternoon, Lathan had faced criticism for her handling of a news conference Tuesday night in the wake of the shooting.

Lathan spoke briefly to reporters about what occurred, but did not answer any questions from journalists or parents.

"I was hoping they would come out and give us more than, you know, thoughts and prayers," said a visibly frustrated Jonasu Wagsteaff, whose child attends Bellaire High. "Thoughts and prayers are not going to help anything in this situation. It's not going to make our children safe, and it's definitely not going to bring back this young man back to his mother."

Wagsteaff's daughter was in school when the shooting happened. She said she's terrified to come back to campus.
"I don't know what to say to her," said Wagsteaff. "Especially when I can't even get her principal to answer our questions about what's going to be done."

"Our hearts go out to this student's families and his friends," said Lathan, whose message wasn't enough for some parents.

"We need to know our children are coming to a safe place," said parent Fouad Hijizi, whose daughter is a freshman at the school.

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