Jordyn Howe was doing what a lot of teenagers do when they ride the bus to school — showing off.
Only Howe wasn’t boasting about a new smartphone or some other fancy gadget; he was carrying a .40 caliber handgun. One he knew was loaded. And letting other students pass it around.
Then the gun went off that day in November 2012, fatally striking 13-year old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus in the neck as she sat on the bus next to her little sister.
Howe had been flashing the gun at his Florida school for days before the accidental shooting, reported WFOR-TV in Miami, adding that two weeks after the death of Guzman-DeJesus, her biological father killed himself.
Soon Howe was charged as an adult with manslaughter, possession of a firearm and possession of a concealed weapon — and was looking at a long time behind bars.
But standing in a courtroom for sentencing this week, Howe, now 16, received an uncommon gesture of compassion.
The dead girl’s mother, Ady Guzman-DeJesus, helped orchestrate a plea deal for Howe that will free him of a life in prison, noted WPLG-TV in Miami.
During the hearing Howe asked Guzman-DeJesus for forgiveness, WFOR said. And then in front of cameras, Howe turned, walked toward the grieving mother, and reached out for a hug…
…and she hugged him back.
“Justice is done,” Guzman-DeJesus later told WFOR. “I miss her and I really do forgive him.”
Howe will serve a year at a juvenile facility in Central Florida. After his release, he will have to perform community service and give speeches at schools that address gun violence. Howe will also report to the court every month until he is 21, WFOR noted.
“The loss of this precious child could potentially save the life of many, many others,” said Miami-Dade County Court Judge Ellen Sue Venzer.
While Howe and Guzman-DeJesus attended different schools, they rode the same bus.
The Miami Herald reported that the gun Howe brought aboard the bus was his stepfather’s and stored in a bedroom closet.
More from the Herald:
After a while, Howe took the gun and put in his waistband. One witnesses told police that Lourdes then began “playing with it,” pulling the trigger and aiming around “like pretending.”
Howe took the gun back, pointed it at the floor and pulled the trigger. No discharge. But then, with one hand, Howe lifted the gun toward Guzman-DeJesus and pulled the trigger.
The bullet struck the girl in the neck. Chaos erupted on the bus.
WPLG reported that Howe, as part of the plea deal, will cooperate fully with the state attorney’s office, which is also reviewing who owned the gun, which could open the door for other criminal charges.