'Relentless bullying' leads high school senior to suicide

By Jake Reiner - Reporter

HOUSTON - Texas City High School senior Brandy Vela took her own life Tuesday afternoon, News 6 sister station KPRC reports.

Her family says despite being well-loved and having a lot of friends, none of it helped when it came to what they call the "relentless bullying" that led to her eventual death.

Brandy Vela's final text to her family was: "I love you so much just remember that please and I'm so sorry for everything."

"I was the first one here," said Jacqueline Vela, Brandy's older sister, describing the last moments she had with her.

Jacqueline, 22, said she tried everything she could to save her 18-year-old sister Tuesday.

"I heard someone crying so I ran upstairs and I looked in her room and she's against the wall and she has a gun pointed at her chest and she's just crying and crying and I'm like, 'Brandy please don't, Brandy no,'" Jacqueline said.

Brandy's entire family tried to find the right words, but their troubled teen had already made up her mind.

"I was in my parents' room and I just heard the shot and my dad just yelled, 'Help me, help me, help me,'" Jacqueline recalled.

Brandy shot herself in front of her parents and grandparents. Police said, she died at the hospital.

"I'm glad you got what you wanted. I hope this makes you happy," Victor Vela, 19, said, talking directly to the bullies he said targeted his younger sister.
 

Brandy's entire family attribute her death to an onslaught of bullying for years. They said her weight was the main target and people would allegedly create fake social media accounts to harass her.


"They would make dating websites of her and they would put her number and they would put her picture and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her," Jacqueline said.

The family members said they've reported instances of bullying to the school district and multiple law enforcement agencies in Galveston County more than once. No arrests have been made.

"School was a safe environment for Brandy," Melissa Tortorici,Texas City Independent school District's director of communications, said in a statement. "She had a lot of friends and was thought of warmly by her peers and teachers. She did bring it to the school's attention before Thanksgiving break that she was getting harassing messages to her cellphone outside of school. Our deputy investigated it and the app that was being used to send the messages was untraceable. We encouraged her to change her phone number."

Holly La Roe, principal of Texas City High School, sent a letter home to parents on Wednesday.

Brandy's family said she did change her number but bullies would always find a way to continue going after her.

"We have a lot of incident reports and they always say the same thing: 'They can't do anything about it,'" Jacqueline said.

The Texas City Police Department released a statement saying its investigators are still looking into the cyber-bullying allegations.

Jacqueline Vela said she and her siblings have a good idea who may have been behind some of these attacks and have been assisting in the investigation.

Tortorici added: "We've cared for Brandy since she came to TCISD in the sixth grade. We are devastated at this news. Our prayers, thoughts and concerns are with her family and friends as they grieve her loss."

"Students handle suicides differently. I can tell you that we are very concerned for students at school and are monitoring them closely since many times this can trigger other incidents," Tortorici continued.

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