School, family tries to make sense of 13-year-old's killing

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Students at Curran Middle School were greeted with psychologists and other support staff Wednesday to help them cope with the death of their classmate, 13-year-old Cortez Batiste.

The boy was found shot to death Monday night near the railroad crossing at 1500 East Brundage Lane.

Jason Brannen the principal at Curran, told Eyewitness News that the students arrived at school with a range of emotions and that they were treated with the appropriate type of counseling.

"We all grieve at different spots on the spectrum," said Brannen, "but a lot of it was just sadness, realizing that they'd lost a friend."

On Wednesday, Batiste's aunt and other family and friends were collecting donations for his burial. They also plan to have other fundraisers, but now they are just looking for justice.

"He won't die in vain. I'm here for him, and I love him. I've always loved him," said Blanche Batiste, his aunt.

Brannen said that he knew Batiste personally and will remember him fondly.

"He was a great kid, fun loving kid. I talked to him on Monday afternoon as a matter of fact and said, 'Hey, I'll see you at school tomorrow,'" said the principal.

He said students also coped by writing letters, drawing pictures and posting things.

"He was a boy, 13 years old," said Brannen. "Playing basketball, having fun with his friends. Nobody needs to die that young."

Police said there is no known motive for the killing and no suspects have been identified.

A vigil is being held for Cortez at 7 Wednesday night where his body was found.