DEATHS

Father of girl slain on school bus kills himself in Broward

 

Family says the guilt was too much for the father of a girl who was shot and killed on a Homestead school bus last month.

jbrown@MiamiHerald.com

For most of her life, Lourdes “Jina” Guzman-DeJesus knew very little about her father.

In and out of jail and with perpetual troubles with the law, Armando “Alex” Guzman-Cirino had little time for his 13-year-old daughter, who was mostly raised by her mother, Ady Guzman-DeJesus, in Homestead, family members said.

Last month, Guzman-Cirino lost any chance he could have had to try to reconnect with his only child, Jina, when she was shot and killed on a school bus.

And now, her family is planning yet another funeral: for Jina’s father, who committed suicide Thursday.

Guzman-Cirino, 34, was found shot to death in his car, which was parked in a garage in Lauderdale Lakes about noon Thursday. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Family members said he was grief-stricken and depressed over the loss of his daughter, who was killed Nov. 20, when a student on her school bus pulled a .40 caliber gun from his backpack and the gun discharged, striking Jina in the neck. About eight students, including Jina’s 7-year-old sister, were on the bus, which was enroute to several Homestead-area schools.

Jordan Alexander Howe, 15, has been charged with manslaughter and carrying a concealed weapon. He told police he found the gun in his home and that he had taken it to school at least once before. He also said the gun discharged accidentally when he was showing it to another student on the bus.

Howe was released from juvenile detention last week and remains on house arrest pending a hearing set for February.

The gun was legally registered to his stepfather, who kept it in a closet, authorities said.

A DeJesus family member said Jina’s mother, took the news of Guzman-Cirino’s death very hard, coming so soon after her daughter was laid to rest. While the couple had been estranged for many years, he had been by her side at their daughter’s viewing and funeral.

When DeJesus got the news of Guzman’s death, she screamed and cried for hours, said David Font, whose wife is DeJesus’ cousin.

Font said Jina had had little contact with her father before her death. Guzman had been in prison for a period of time and lost touch with his daughter.

“It had to be that whole thing of guilt that really got to him,’’ Font said. “I heard that he had been very depressed.’’

DeJesus met Guzman-Cirino while they were living near New Brunswick, N.J. The couple had one child, Jina, but never married.

Guzman-Cirino provided little or no financial support for his daughter, and DeJesus worked two jobs at one point to support Jina, her younger sister and brother, Font said.

“He was not the model father, but I think he was trying to do the right thing too late,’’ Font said.

The family did not know whether Guzman-Cirino was employed. His mother lives in Puerto Rico and came to Jina’s funeral, Font said.

During the viewing, Guzman-Cirino kneeled by DeJesus’ feet as she wept. He held her as their daughter’s casket was lowered into the ground at the funeral.

His car was spotted in a parking lot at 3933 NW 19th St. about 8 a.m. Thursday. A witness told police he noticed that the car, a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, had a bullet hole on the driver’s side window, but the windows were tinted and the witness did not notice a body inside. About noon, he went to investigate and saw the body inside the vehicle and called police.

Guzman-Cirino was pronounced dead at the scene, which was about a mile from his home at 4800 NW 24th Ct. in Lauderdale Lakes.

On his Facebook page a few days earlier, he had posted a memorial note about his daughter.

Said Font: “He was clearly upset over what had happened.’’

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