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Bellaire HS shooting suspect told officials where gun was, DA says

HISD superintendent to meet with students Thursday

HOUSTON – The teen charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a Bellaire High School student last week told police where to find weapon used in the shooting, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

But more than a week after the deadly shooting, new information like how police found the gun, has been slow to trickle in.

Parents of Bellaire High School students are complaining that the Houston Independent School District is yet to release details about what happened on Jan. 14 and how a gun was able to make it into the school again.

HISD’s interim superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan posted a blog about the district’s plans and chose to refrain from further comment to KPRC 2. Lathan promised more answers would come Thursday when Lathan plans to speak with students about the shooting.

This comes after growing frustration from parents and students calling for transparency after they said the school has had multiple weapons found on campus. Several parents said their cries for change were met with a lack of action. The school shooting victim, 19-year-old Cesar Cortes, was bound for the Army and loved to serve. His family told KPRC 2 that they were disappointed in HISD’s lack of school security. However, Lathan said the district is doing everything it can.

“We are listening, but for us as a district, we have to share information as we receive it and when we can actually articulate — here’s what our plan is,” Lathan said Wednesday.

When asked what plans are in place to ensure student safety, Lathan referred to a blog the district posted Tuesday, which said the district planned on “reconvening safety and security council committees on every campus” and that the district would also look into screening students with metal detectors. However, when asked in-person, to clarify the district’s efforts, Lathan promised answers Thursday.

“I’ll refer you back...to my blog, and we will discuss that further on tomorrow,” Lathan told KPRC 2.

The Houston Federation of Teacher’s Vice President Andrew Dewey said that HISD should have had the safety and security council committees in place and that the district needs to have more of a conversation about what the community wants school security to look like.

“They need to have community input-'What would you accept as far as school security? Parents, you send your kids here. What will you accept? Will you accept metal detectors? Will you accept backpacks?'” Dewey said.

The lack of HISD presence in the media and reaching out to parents and other stakeholders can be seen as a lack of transparency, which could further the problem of trust, Dewey said.

“It’s even more frustrating for her to say she’s going to have answers tomorrow and as far as we know, she has not reached into the community to find out what the community wants,” Dewey said. “How can you answer questions without all of the data? Without all of the input from people. Bellaire has been a crowning jewel of HISD for as long as I can remember. It’s a school that people want to go to. Is that going to change if there now may be the perception that it is now an unsafe school?”

Lathan said she is trying to meet with stakeholders. She will be meeting with students Thursday at 2 p.m.