Classmates of an 11-year-old girl killed in a gang-related drive-by shooting participated in a fund-raising drive this week to help pay for the girl’s funeral Friday, school officials said.
Students, parents and faculty at Riverside Drive Elementary School in Sherman Oaks contributed $2,400 toward the funeral of Jasmine Guevara, gunned down Saturday as she and two family members walked along a street in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles.
Principal Gary Parks said letters were sent home with students on Tuesday asking parents to assist the victim’s family with the cost of the services.
Parks said he got the idea to raise money for the family after talking to the victim’s mother, Emilia Quintanilla.
“The family could use some economic help,” Parks said. “We decided it was appropriate to do this under the circumstances.”
Jasmine’s 14-year-old sister, Melda Guevara, said the family appreciated the gesture. “It’s a great help to us,” Guevara said. “We don’t have any money to pay for the funeral. The people are so sweet for helping us.”
Parks said he learned of the tragedy early Monday. He said students who rode the bus with Jasmine from her Los Angeles neighborhood to the Sherman Oaks school told school officials of her death. Parks said he called the family to confirm the report and to offer assistance.
Some of Jasmine’s classmates said Friday that they were having trouble accepting the loss of their friend. “I cried and yelled,” said student Jackie Berganza, 12. “I couldn’t believe it. She used to come to my house to do homework.”
Another friend and fellow student, 10-year-old Djuan Borney, said: “I’m very sad. I talked to her a lot. We were very good friends.”
School officials said Jasmine, who participated in a voluntary transfer program, had attended Riverside Drive since the first grade. “She was not a straight-A student but she never gave up,” said Jasmine’s fifth-grade teacher, Maria Heidenfelder. “She was the kind of student who would smile and say, ‘I’ll do better next time.’ ”
Parks said students will be asked what kind of memorial they would like to see established at the school in honor of their slain classmate. Under consideration are a plaque or the planting of a tree.
Parks, Heidenfelder and some students at the school attended the funeral at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Los Angeles.
Four teen-age gang members--including 18-year-old Sergio Arriaga--have been arrested in the shooting, said Los Angeles Police Detective James McCann. Police would not reveal the names of the other suspects because of their ages.
The shooting is still under investigation, and police are seeking additional suspects, McCann said.
Jasmine, her sister Melda and an aunt, Blanca Guevara, 42, were walking home from a neighborhood liquor store in the 1800 block of Orchard Avenue on Saturday when several shotgun blasts were fired at them from a passing car, police said. Jasmine was pronounced dead at the scene, and her aunt was seriously wounded, authorities said. Melda was not injured.
Police said the gunfire that resulted in Jasmine’s death apparently was intended for rival gang members who were standing nearby.