A Junior ROTC student was killed in an unfortunate classroom accidental firearms discharge at a Texas high school in Bellaire, TX on TUES 14 JAN 2020. The student, 19 year old Cesar Cortes, was fatally wounded by a fellow JROTC student who was attempting to show Cortes a semi-automatic handgun that the student had in his possession.
According to Bellaire Police Lieutenant Greg Bartlett, the 16 year old classmate who was responsible for the fatal shooting initially fled the scene of the accidental weapon discharge, but was taken into custody approximately three hours after the fatal incident.
According to law enforcement officials, information about the incident was initially gleaned from friends of the alleged shooter, whom the student had shared details about the incident with. The accused shooter had not yet cooperated with police however, nor has the weapon been recovered. District Attorney Kim Ogg stated that the unfortunate reality of the situation involving the tragic incident is that “they were friends,” however D.A. Ogg stopped short of letting the accused shooter off the hook, stating “This is not an accident because 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.”
Ogg further stated that the investigation into the incident was ongoing, and that authorities were still in the process of seeking help from the community to locate the firearm that was discharged in the fatal incident.
Classes were cancelled in the affected school district on the day following the fatal incident with students returning on THURS 16 JAN 2020 with the presence of law enforcement officers at the school to increase security measures. Other physical security measures were taken as well, such a compulsory checks of student backpacks and other bags. The heightened school security measures at Bellaire High School in the wake of the Cesar Cortes’ death were characterized as “initial precautions” by school principal Michael McDonough. Principal McDonough went on to stipulate that more substantive “long-term, sustainable changes” were being developed by the school’s Safety and Security Committee.
D.A. Ogg described the alleged shooter as a “regular kid, evidently, who is now a violent offender.” Ogg further summed up the stark reality that the community of Bellaire, Texas now faces in the wake of this unfortunate fatality: “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.”