A Delaware community was left reeling after a teenage girl was fatally beaten by multiple students in the restroom of a high school just as morning classes were getting underway. The fatal fight, reportedly over a boy, occurred in the main-floor restroom at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington.
The victim was identified by sources to the News Journal as 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, a sophomore at the high school. There were few officials details about what led to the homicide, but police said the altercation didn't appear to be gang related.
Investigators also don't believe a weapon was used. One student told the local ABC-7 TV news station that the confrontation was over a boy, and the victim was fighting with another student when she was "jumped" by a group of girls.
"She was fighting a girl, and then that's when all these other girls started banking her, like, jumping her, and she hit her head on the sink," a witness told an ABC reporter.
Gary Fullman, chief of staff to the Wilmington mayor, told CNN: "There was an altercation that initially started between two people, and my understanding is that additional individuals joined in against the one person."
There was information on Twitter that some witnesses may have recorded the fight on their cell phones and did not step up to protect the girl.
The victim, in critical condition, was given CPR on the scene by paramedics, and was airlifted by state police helicopter to A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, where she was later pronounced dead, police said.
Several students are being investigated as persons of interest in the attack, and two girls have been taken to police headquarters.
"My heart's broken," said a tearful Mayor Dennis Williams at a press conference. "I am so upset that a young lady lost her life today. Things like this shouldn't happen. My heart bleeds for the family, the kids that go to this school, administrators and our city. In this moment we should all come together to work collectively to address the serious needs of our youth."
The school district superintendent called the death an "unbelievable tragedy" — but insisted the school is "safe." According to district statistics, there were seven violent felonies and 14 instances of fighting or disorderly conduct in 2015 at the high school, which has 925 students.
The victim was described as an open, friendly girl. "I feel bad for the people who have known her for years," said a friend.
Neighborhood activist Beverly Bell said schools must be protected by adults as safe places for children. "We've gotta have people in place to watch over our children, because when a parent sends a child to school, it's not to get a phone call that their child won't be coming home," she told the News Journal.
State Senator Rose Henry noted the death on the floor of the legislature, saying that schools "should be a sanctuary for our students from the madness of the outside world." She added: "We pray for this beautiful young soul and her family. We pray for the Howard High School community. And we pray for a city that has lost too many of its young people at the hands of senseless violence."
People were mourning the death on Twitter at #RIPAmy.