The death of a 10-year-old Southern California schoolgirl after a fight with another student has been ruled a homicide, the coroner said today.
Investigators said Joanna Ramos, a fifth-grader at Willard Elementary School in Long Beach, died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
“They did surgery on her brain because she had a blood clot, and after surgery the doctor said she was still alive, and then a few minutes later he comes back and tells us that her heart stopped and they couldn’t bring her back,” Joanna’s sister, Vanessa Urbina, told the Associated Press.
Joanna died at 9 p.m. Friday. Earlier that afternoon, she and another fifth-grade girl had planned to fight in an alley near the school.
“They were fighting over a boy, just for a boy,” classmate Stephanie Soltero told ABC News affiliate KABC, crying. “It’s just stupid.”
Police said there were seven witnesses to the fight, which lasted less than a minute and didn’t involve any weapons. No arrests have been made, the AP reported.
After the fight, Joanna returned to her after-school program with blood on her knuckles from wiping a bloody nose. She also complained of a headache, prompting the school to call her parents. Joanna was unconscious and not breathing when family members took her to the hospital at about 5:50 p.m., according to police.
“There are times when words do not convey a sense of sadness and loss that we feel. This was one of those times,” Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said Saturday. “It’s hard to understand how this can happen. If you’re like me, you’re also thinking of your own children, perhaps your daughter or your granddaughter, and you get a sense of how precious life really is.”
Outside Willard Elementary School, friends left balloons, candles, stuffed animals, flowers and letters to Joanna.
Olivia Katrandjian, the Associated Press and ABC News affiliate KABC contributed to this report.