- The Washington Times - Friday, April 22, 2016

Several students from a Wilmington high school are being questioned by Delaware police after a 16-year-old girl was beaten to death in the school’s bathroom Thursday morning.

Amy Inita Joyner-Francis was attacked by her peers in the bathroom at Howard High School of Technology about 8 a.m. Thursday. About a half-hour later, the sophomore was flown to A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, where she was pronounced dead, The News Journal reported.

Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the exact cause of the teen’s death. Two girls and several witnesses were being interviewed Thursday at the Wilmington Police Department. No charges have been announced.

School was dismissed late Thursday morning and resumed Friday with a shortened day to provide counseling services for students, The Journal reported.

Classmates, friends and parents gathered at a vigil Thursday night for Amy. Friends using the hashtag #RIPAmy flooded social media with posts mourning their classmate.

“Whenever we had a problem, she would come to us and talk to us, and I never would’ve thought she would be the girl that would get killed like that,” 10th-grade student Atiyya Wilkes told a local ABC News affiliate.

Shytera Dawkins, who described herself as a close friend of Amy’s, and Kayla Sutrell, also 16, said they talked to Amy Wednesday night and said she told them she was going into the bathroom the next day to “settle the beef,” The Journal reported. They said the dispute involved a boy, but did not elaborate.

“This was like the first time that someone died over a fight,” Shytera told the paper. “Amy is a good girl who gets good grades who stays out of trouble. For them to fight, it’s just wow, a shocker for everybody.”

City Councilman Nnamdi Chukwuocha lamented that so many youth programs are focused on young, black men in the city, but very few target the needs of young women, The Journal reported.

“Some of the worst fights I’ve seen in the community have been with the females,” she said. “We need to address the needs of the young women. As of right now, I don’t think we’re doing that.”

Mayor Dennis P. Williams spoke at a press conference at the high school shortly after news of the teen’s death.

“I’m so upset that the young lady lost her life today. Things like this shouldn’t happen,” he said. “My heart bleeds for the family, the kids that go to this school, administrators and our city.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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