HOUSTON - Loved ones of 19-year-old Cesar Cortes held a candlelight vigil at Evelyn’s Park Wednesday to honor the Bellaire High School student. Cortes was shot to death at school Tuesday by another student.
In an emotional address to the crowd, on behalf of his family, Dylan Cortes thanked the hundreds of friends and community members gathered at Evelyn’s Park Wednesday evening to honor his brother, 19-year-old Cesar Cortes.
“It fills my heart knowing that my brother is looking above right now. Pray for him and be here for him. I will miss him. He did not die in vain,” said Cortes.
The Bellaire High School student was shot to death by a classmate & fellow ROTC member on campus Tuesday. Those who knew Cortes described him as a nice and reserved man, who wanted nothing more than to serve his country.
His friends said Cortes had already enlisted in the army.
“He was really quiet but once you knew him he was really funny. You could laugh about anything around him. He was genuinely like a really good guy,” said Lydia Centeno, Cortes’s friend and fellow ROTC member at Bellaire High School.
The 16-year-old suspect was arrested Tuesday night and is now being charged with manslaughter.
“The manslaughter charge was filed as opposed to murder because at this time the evidence shows that the act that the juvenile committed was not intentional. But it was reckless,” said Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg.
Bellaire Police said the two were not fighting and were apparently friendly with one another. However, authorities said the suspect has not been cooperative.
“His demeanor is calm. Although I haven’t seen any remorse,” said Bellaire PD Lieutenant Greg Bartlett.
More than a day after the deadly shooting, investigators are still trying to locate the gun and determine how it was brought to campus.
Other students reportedly saw the 32-caliber handgun at school, but did not report the weapon to administrators.
Authorities say the gun does not belong to Bellaire High School.
Bellaire High School students are expected to return to school Thursday.
According to HISD, extra security will be on campus and students must have their bags checked before entering the building through a single-entry point.
Residents who happen to come across the weapon are urged not to touch it and to report it to the authorities immediately.