School in mourning for 10-year-old girl who died after fight
The school where two girls got into a fight Friday, leaving one of them dead, was in mourning Monday as police continued to investigate.
"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the student during this difficult time," principal Kevin Maddox wrote in a letter to parents.
"Our main focus throughout this week will be taking care of all of Willard's students. In addition to our own school counselor and school psychologist, we will have school district staff members here throughout the week to work directly with students who demonstrate a need for support," said the letter, which was obtained by KTLA News.
Joanna Ramos, 10, died of blunt force trauma to the head Friday night following the after-school fight at Willard Elementary School. Her death is being investigated as a homicide.
Her family has said the two girls quarreled over a boy. Family and friends said the girl vomited and complained of a headache after the fight, but had no visible wounds, according to news reports.
"It's unusual for this grade level to have this kind of severity," Chris Eftychiou, a spokesman for Long Beach Unified School District, said of the fight. "This is a difficult situation for all of us to understand. There are so many questions, but we have to be patient and let the police do their job."
On Monday, balloons, flowers, teddy bears, candles and poster-sized photos of Joanna were placed near the school's entrance. Pictures showed a thin, brown-haired girl with a wide smile. In one photo, she's sticking out her tongue while giving the peace sign.
Nearby, the words "Joanna RIP" were tagged on a short wall adjoining the front stairs.
Eftychiou said no disciplinary action had been taken against the other girl involved in the fight or any other student. No one has been arrested in the matter, but the L.A. County coroner's office said Monday that it had ruled the girl's death a homicide.
-- Ruben Vives
Photo: Joanna Ramos' teacher, Jaycee Leitner, left, comforts student Gabby Basilio, 11, at a memorial in front of Willard Elementary School in Long Beach on Monday morning. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times