Losing a child has to be one of the most devastating losses a person can experience. When someone loses a child violently and unexpectedly, it's understandable that they'd be unable to forgive the person who caused the death -- even if it was an accident.
But one Florida mom has done just that -- she's forgiven the teenage boy who shot and killed her daughter on a school bus in 2012. Not only that, she helped the 16-year-old reach a plea deal that will keep him out of prison. In exchange for serving time, he will become an advocate against gun violence.
Martha "Ady" Guzman-DeJesus hugged Jordyn Howe in court, and said, "It is our hope that ... he will join me in going from school to school; from child to child; from parent to parent; from teacher to teacher urging them to understand how dangerous guns are in the hands of children."
Howe pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a deadly weapon and two other charges, and faced 22 months behind bars for the accidental shooting of 13-year-old Lourdes "Jina" Guzman-DeJesus. "I'm sorry for her loss and I apologize for doing what I did," he tearfully told the court before embracing the mother of his victim.
In 2012, Howe brought his stepdad's unloaded pistol to school to show off, because you know, it was super cool. Or something. He had found it on a high shelf at home, wrapped in a towel. On the day Jina died, he pointed it at the floor, but it didn't shoot. Then for some unknown reason, he pointed the gun at Jina. This time it went off, and she was hit in the neck.
At first, Ady demanded a harsh punishment for the teen for his carelessness that cost her daughter her life. However, after a month of meetings with the lawyers and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer, they reached another solution.
Howe will spend one year in a juvenile detention center, and will also tour Florida with Ady to speak out against gun violence. Her attorney, Florida lobbyist and victim advocate Ron Book, said, "The consensus was this was a kid who was truly is regretful about having brought the gun to school, a kid who had a relationship with Jina."
Amazingly, Ady hasn't only agreed to let her child's killer walk with minimal consequences, she's actually forgiven him. "I forgive him because I’ve found peace because I feel like my daughter now is in peace," Guzman-DeJesus said. "It won’t bring my daughter back, but at least it will keep her name alive."
Not only that, but it may end up saving lives. This incident seems like it was really a tragic accident that could have been prevented if that gun had been locked up, or even if he had been taught proper gun safety rules -- you know, like never, ever point it at a person you don't intend to shoot, even if you think it's unloaded.
Do you think Jordyn Howe got off too easy?
Could you forgive him if it was your child?