BELLAIRE, Texas – Family members identified the teenager shot and killed on Tuesday at Bellaire High School as 19-year-old Cesar Cortes.
Another student shot Cortes in the chest around 4 p.m. inside the JRTOC supply room, police said. The 16-year-old suspect and another person connected to the case were arrested hours after the shooting.
The suspected gunman was charged with manslaughter Wednesday morning and was moved to the Harris County Juvenile Probation Center, police said. The suspect’s charges could be upgraded as the investigation unfolds.
The second person arrested, also a teenager, was released without charges.
His uncle called Cortes “a natural leader” and said, “he was extremely excited uh and pumped about going to the army later in the year.”
“He had already signed up,” Cesar Diaz said. “That was his biggest thing and he was extremely focused in doing that.”
“The reason it’s been such a huge pain is due to the fact that he was so focused in what he was doing,” Diaz also said. “He had no enemies, he was a good kid.”
The Bellaire High School JROTC confirmed that Cortes was a member. A friend said he enlisted in the army with Cortes and that they were scheduled to leave June 29.
“The family is extremely distraught,” Diaz said. “It’s a whirlwind for everybody.”
Classes at Bellaire High School were canceled on Wednesday. A vigil will be held Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Evelyn’s Park (Great Lawn).
Officials at the Houston Independent School District released the following statement:
“HISD will cancel classes for students at Bellaire High School tomorrow, Wednesday, January 15. However, staff members are asked to report to campus. Bellaire High School students should report to school on Thursday, January 16.”
HISD Superintendent Grenita Lanthan said the district will also provide counselors for students who were impacted by the shooting.