Local News

Raleigh School Mourns Loss of Slain Classmate

Posted May 2, 2007 4:27 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2007 7:59 p.m. EDT

— As authorities investigate the shooting death of a 13-year-old girl, her classmates are trying to deal with the sudden loss of one of their friends.

Crime scene investigators are trying to piece together what happened inside a first-floor unit at Remington on the Green Apartments at 4401 Green Road. When police arrived on the scene Tuesday evening, officers found Gelnirys Ortega shot to death and her mother, Maligros, suffering from a gunshot wound.

Gelnirys Ortega was a seventh grader at West Millbrook Middle School. Christopher Almonza was one of her friends.

"We go to the same school. We rode the bus together," he said.

The sadness also extends to the teachers and students at West Millbrook Middle School. Counselors are on campus to help students cope with the situation.

"They don't understand she was here yesterday, joking with her friends, going through the yearbook, making plans for the future and then she's not here today," said teacher Christine Ritterpusch.

Ritterpusch was Gelnirys' language arts teacher. She described her as a wonderful student, smart with an infectious laugh no one will soon forget. She said Gelniys was one of those students that as a teacher, you're happy you had her in your class.

Raleigh police are keeping a tight lid on the specifics surrounding the shooting at this point.

"We are still not at a point in the investigation where we can discuss specifics, but it can be said that the investigation has determined that the cases did not stem from random contact with strangers," said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.

For residents living in the apartment complex, the crime scene tape now lining part of the landscape is unsettling.

"I've been living here eight years and I have never seen anything like this -- never. We don't have problems like this. It's just one of those things," said neighbor Carlton Sanders.

Milagros Ortega was transported to WakeMed for treatment. There was no word on her condition early Wednesday.