LONG BEACH (CBS/AP) — An 11-year-old girl died following an after school fight at a Long Beach elementary school, but authorities say they have no immediate plans for arrests.
Police said Saturday night that the girl, identified by friends as Joanna Ramos, died at a hospital hours after the fight with another 11-year-old girl outside Willard Elementary.
Authorities were stressing the unusual nature of the tragedy and are urging caution about linking the fight to the girl’s death pending a coroner’s report on the cause of death.
“I think it’s safe to say this is definitely an isolated incident,” police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt said. “I personally don’t hear of 11-year-old fights like this, especially girls. I can’t say they never happen but I think everyone was completely caught off-guard by this event.”
Friday’s fight at Willard Elementary didn’t appear to be especially serious or violent, no weapons were used and neither girl was knocked to the ground, police said. They could not say what prompted the fight but friends had their suspicions.
“They were fighting over a boy,” said Stephanie Guadalupe, a friend of Joanna. “I told the teacher and she said she would talk to all the girls on Monday.”
The Press Telegram reported the fight was pre-planned. Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Chris Steinhauser told the newspaper there was no indication that adults at the school, attended by about 800 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, was aware of it or notified about it beforehand.
The students involved in the altercation left an after-school program and went to an alley near the school to fight. Some students said bullying had been a problem at the school but authorities said in a press conference Saturday that the victim was not bullied.
One Ramos friend, Maggie Martinez, said she broke up the fight. “She did not hit her head. The other girl just punched her in the face. She started bleeding from the nose.”
Adults later noticed Joanna wasn’t feeling well and drove her to a local emergency room.
Martinez got a frantic call from the girl’s mother and told her she died three times in the car on the way to the hospital but her mother was able to revive her. “She did the CPR and she revived. But when they got to the hospital they said it was really bad and they would have to do brain surgery on her.”
She was hospitalized and had surgery but died about six hours after the fight at 9 p.m. on Friday.
“There are times when words do not convey the sense of sadness we feel,” Mayor Bob Foster said at a press conference. “This is one of those times.”
Police were investigating and said no arrests were immediately planned. They have interviewed the girl who fought with Ramos.
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