Principal remembers slain 12-year-old as 'bright' spelling bee c

Principal remembers slain 12-year-old as 'bright' spelling bee champion

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Photo provided by Lubbock ISD Photo provided by Lubbock ISD
LISD: Damien is the student on the left. Hodges Elementary Spelling Bee winner LISD: Damien is the student on the left. Hodges Elementary Spelling Bee winner
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Lubbock ISD is mourning the loss of a former student who was shot and killed in a McDonald's drive-thru Thursday night.

Police report Damien Cortez was in a car with his family when a teen sibling allegedly pulled out the gun, accidentally shooting the 12 year old. 

“Damien was a very bright child. He was the spelling bee champion at Hodges last year,” said Elsa Montes, principal at Hodges Elementary, where Damien attended school last year.

Investigators are trying to determine how the teen came into possession of the gun.  

Damien, a big fan of Estacado High School graduate and professional baseball player AJ Ramos, attended a baseball camp with Ramos, where the attached photo was taken.

In a statement, Roosevelt ISD where Damien was currently attending classes, describes his death as "heartbreaking."

"We have our own counselors, as well as from neighboring districts, available to meet with his classmates to provide any needed emotional support," the statement stated. "Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers are extended to his family and friends impacted by this tragedy."

New Deal Middle School Principal Jesus Arenas Jr. said Damien was a student there until Christmas break.

"We are deeply saddened and heartbroken to hear the news of Damien passing away last night," Arenas said in a statement. "We have our counselor working with our students as they process this tragic news. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends."

The involved parties in the shooting are cooperating with investigators, according to Lubbock police spokesperson Tiffany Pelt.

Pelt says investigators will continue to gather information and present the case to the Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office for their review.

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