TEXAS CITY, TX (AP) – Just days after an 18-year-old girl shot herself in front of her parents after being relentlessly cyberbullied, her family says the harassment started up again.
Brandy Vela’s family says cyberbullying pushed the 18-year-old over the edge, leading her to shoot herself in the chest at the family’s Texas City home as family members watched.
Her father, Raul Vela, said she had been receiving abusive text messages for months from bullies using an untraceable smartphone application. Her father said someone made a fake Facebook page of her, creating another cyberbullying medium.
“I heard someone crying,” Brandy’s 22-year-old sister, Jacqueline Vela, told KPRC-TV of Houston, “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.”
On December 9, just two days after she was buried, CNN reports someone made a social media page in her memory.
That page was quickly filled with disturbing posts about her. The bullying literally followed her to the grave.
“The continued harassment reported by Mr. Vela is being investigated,” Texas City police Capt. Joe Stanton told CNN. “We currently do not have any suspects or persons of interest identified.”
“Two days after her funeral, somebody opened up a social media page in her name,” Vela said, “and people thought the family did it, so it started with people putting sincere condolences. After a few minutes, either four people or the same person posting four times said some things harassing Brandy about being a big fat cow, writing ‘you finally did it’ with a picture of a gun, writing ‘you’re a coward,’ ‘you should have done this a long time ago,’ some really horrific things.”
An earlier Texas City Police Department statement says it continues to investigate the Velas’ original complaints. Jacqueline Vela told KPRC that she and her siblings have a good idea who may have been behind some of these attacks and have been assisting in the investigation.
The father said that he hopes for stricter laws against cyberbullying and greater awareness of the problem to give some meaning to his daughter’s death.
“I feel like these people are cowards, these people hiding behind the texts and fake pages. They’re the ones who pushed her to this point. She lost all her self-esteem, lost all her self-worth,” he said.