Amanda Pilkenton said her toddler often played nearby. It terrifies me. What if it happened right outside?
At Palm Glades on Wednesday afternoon, about 200 students gathered in the parking lot, and many tied several dozen pink, blue, yellow and other colored balloons to a fence.
Despite the somber ceremony, teachers urged students to remember happy times with Lourdes. Cheerleaders chanted Lets Go Lourdes and pumped blue and white pom-poms in the air.
I was trying not to cry, said a tearful eighth-grader, Sophia Aguirre, who sang in chorus class with Lourdes and who tied a blue balloon to the fence for her. She was a very cheerful person, always making people happy, making jokes.
Ninth-grader Shalimar Cruz said, I felt really sad, but at the same time, I know shes in a better place.
Mike Strader, president of Charter School Associates, which runs Palm Glades, said the school is planning a memorial for Lourdes next week.
Obviously, theres a lot of sadness and grief and shock, he said. Lourdes was a popular student, and she was very well-liked.
At the shooting site Wednesday, a small memorial had been set up. A poster with a rosary, pictures of Lourdes and messages from friends and strangers was put alongside teddy bears and candles.
Extra mental health counselors were at Palm Glades to talk with students, and the school sent home a letter with tips for parents on how to talk about the crisis.
The bus service, Yelimar and Portieles, is operated by Yoslexis Ponce, who said he has driven a private school bus for about two years.
He said kids ride peacefully, watching TV on the air-conditioned bus, and sometimes his own children join his route.
They were not with him on Tuesday, and he said he never saw anything suspicious about Jordyn. If he had known a weapon was on board, he would have taken action, he said.
"No knives, no guns, no weapons are allowed," he said. If there were any, "I stop and everybody gets off.
Strader said the bus service was not under contract with the schools, but parents had hired it themselves. That is common practice for parents at public and charter schools. The Yelimar and Portieles company was not listed as registered with the state of Florida. But Yoslexis Ponce is registered with the countys business affairs office to operate a private school bus, said Raul Gonzalez, with the Miami-Dade County regulatory and economic resources department. Gonzalez said the offices records showed Ponce had a good driving record and his vehicle had passed inspection in August.
Herald staff writer Anna Edgerton contributed to this report.