Sparks school shooter’s parents help fight bullies
February 25, 2014
SPARKS — The parents of a 12-year-old Sparks boy who shot and killed a teacher and wounded two students before turning the gun on himself have donated nearly $14,000 to an anti-bullying program in a partnership with the school district.
Jose and Liliana Reyes say they want to help try to make Washoe County schools safer by making the contribution with the money that was given to them through the Sparks Middle School Compassion Fund.
"We don't want anyone to go through what we went through," Jose Reyes Sr. told the Reno Gazette-Journal. His son, Jose, committed suicide in the schoolyard after fatally shooting teacher Michael Landsberry and wounding two fellow students just before school started on Oct. 21.
Four months after the killings, police are still investigating and haven't decided whether Reyes' parents should face criminal charges for failing to keep the handgun from their son. They couple wrote checks on Monday to Community Matters, a San Francisco Bay Area-group that has assisted with anti-violence programs in 32 states and is working with the Washoe County school district.
"For us, if the money goes to the right hands, it can have a much better benefit for helping Community Matters to work with the school and help them accomplish what they want to accomplish," Reyes told KRNV-TV.
The couple say their son was depressed because he had been bullied at school, although the Washoe County School District says he had not reported the bullying to school officials.
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Police say the boy obtained the 9 mm semi-automatic pistol from his home.
His father said the gun was not locked, but he didn't know his son knew that it was kept on a shelf above the refrigerator.
Under Nevada law, it is illegal to allow anyone under 18 to handle a gun without supervision. But the law doesn't apply if the gun was in a securely locked container "or at a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure."
Through donations and fundraisers, the Sparks Middle School Compassion Fund collected $50,000 that was divided four ways between the families of Landsberry, the two injured students and Reyes. The Reyes family also received other donations from individuals and school groups.
"It is money we didn't expect," Jose Reyes Sr. said. "We are doing what we think is the right thing for us and under my son's name."