Two teens are dead, two families are devastated, and the Highlands High School community is coping with a shocking murder-suicide.
A spokesman with San Antonio ISD confirms that the two teens were seniors at Highlands and, with graduation just weeks away, school personnel are doing what they can to help friends cope with their loss.
A district spokesman says that a crisis team of counselors was sent to the school as soon as the word spread about the early morning shooting.
San Antonio police were called to the Sereno Park Apartments around 7:45 a.m. at the 3900 block of Southeast Military Drive.
"She was 18 years old, about to graduate from high school. He was 19 years old. Very, very tragic,” SAPD Chief Williams McManus said.
Chief McManus explained that this was a case of domestic violence in which a young woman, Clarissa Riojas, tried to end a dating relationship. He noted that the woman had been refusing calls from her former boyfriend, Louis Nickerson, for the last week or so. McManus also said that the man refused to take no for an answer and came to her apartment armed with a gun.
"He actually tried to shoot the door open and then, eventually, kicked it open," Chief McManus said.
The Chief went on to say that the younger sister of Riojas tried to call for help but a gunshot to the head killed the woman before police could arrive.
McManus said that Nickerson then ran away into a nearby wooded area and a massive search was launched by ground officers, a police K-9, and the SAPD helicopter.
The Chief said that Nickerson made it just a few hundred yards. Police said that he ran down a wooded trail and ended his life as well. They found a gun still in his hand.
When asked about advice for parents, McManus said, "You know, I'm the father of an 18-year-old, myself. I know the whole dating routine. And I guess the lesson learned the hard way is, make sure, if you're a parent with a daughter who is dating, make sure you pay attention to the status of that relationship once it's over.”
Clarissa Riojas' father says that his daughter was caring, compassionate, and loving. She was on the cheer and dance teams and loved to travel.
Patricia Castillo, with the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative, works hand-in-hand with victims involved in domestic violence.
"What we've learned in doing this work for so many years is, with youth, we have to be constantly vigilant," she said, adding that violence in teen dating is very common. "In Texas, we know that one in three teenagers can fall prey to some form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse.”
Highlands students are organizing a vigil at South Side Lions Park, near the high school, to take place Thursday at 7:30 a.m.