FORT LAUDERDALE — A 15-year-old sophomore at Dillard High School was shot and killed Wednesday by another 15-year-old girl after the victim rejected romantic advances from the shooter, according to students and other sources familiar with the situation.
The victim, Amanda Collette, and the alleged shooter, Teah Wimberly, both sophomores at the school, had known each other since childhood and attended the same elementary and middle schools.
By all accounts they were friends, but the relationship took a turn for the worse over the past several months after Wimberly repeatedly made romantic overtures toward Collette, who rejected her advances.
“Teah is gay and she liked Amanda, but Amanda didn’t like her, so they would argue,” said Brenesia Smith, 15, a classmate who heard the gunshot and saw Collette on the hallway floor of the school, at 2501 NW 11th St. in Fort Lauderdale.
Wimberly appeared in court Thursday morning and was formally charged as an adult with first-degree murder and possession of a weapon at school, according to news reports.
Dozens of students gathered before classes Thursday for a brief memorial service, according to The Associated Press.
Some students wore black, while others brought flowers and teddy bears to the service next to three flagpoles outside Dillard High School. A few said prayers.
At her court appearance on Thursday morning, Wimberly was ordered to be held for 21 days, and is expected to undergo a psychological evaluation.
The shooting around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12 set off a confused chain of events at the school: Students screamed and ran when the victim fell to the floor, but authorities couldn’t immediately confirm a shot had been fired.
Stephan Willis, a sophomore, told The Associated Press that the girls were arguing in an outside corridor when Wimberly suddenly pulled out a gun and shot Collette.
“She’s a nice girl. She’s quiet. She just keeps to herself,” Willis said of the victim, whom he said he’d known since elementary school.
Police said an initial examination found no major wound on the girl’s body.
Authorities later confirmed the shooting. It was possible a smaller-caliber gun was used and the wound closed around the bullet, said Sgt. Frank Sousa, a spokesman for Fort Lauderdale police. The school was locked down for a short time, but classes soon resumed.
After the shooting, Wimberly left campus and walked across the street to Captain Crab’s Take-Away, a seafood restaurant just south of the school at 2431 W. Sunrise Blvd.
There, she called authorities and told them “she had shot her friend,” Sousa said. Authorities took her into custody at the restaurant and recovered a gun.
No other students were believed to have been involved.
Dillard has about 1,700 students. They don’t pass through metal detectors, but officers are stationed on campus and security cameras are placed throughout.
While some students at the school speculated that Wimberly was bitter after being jilted by Collette, others said she was the subject of ridicule and teasing about the rejection.
Authorities acknowledge there were text messages between the two, but have not disclosed details of what was communicated in them.
According to students, Collette had told friends on Monday she had received a message to meet Wimberly at the school vending machines. Between classes on Wednesday morning, she and
Wimberly were seen in the area of the vending machines, exchanging words, when the noise of a single gunshot ring out.
Students said that by this time, Wimberly had fled, and they could see Collette writhing on the hallway floor. A school resource officer was summoned and tried to administer care.
“I heard the noise, but at first everybody thought it was a soda can that burst, until we saw Amanda on the floor trembling,” Brenesia Smith said. “I didn’t see any blood, but the resource officer was calling her and lifting up her arm, but it just fell back to floor.’’
Paramedics were called, and during the commotion, some students were saying Collette had been shot. But due to the lack of blood, school authorities first reported she had fallen and suffered a seizure.
Collette was rushed to Broward General Medical Center. By this time, Wimberly had made her way to Capt. Crab’s. From there, she called 911 and told the operator she had been involved in a shooting at the school. When police arrived at the restaurant they placed her in custody and retrieved a .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun. Just minutes later, as a steady stream of Collette’s family members were still gathering at the hospital, doctors informed them she did not survive the gunshot that entered her torso through her upper back.
As for Wimberly, she was taken to Fort Lauderdale police headquarters, where she cooperated during hours of questioning. She is being held at an undisclosed juvenile detention facility, with no bond.
During the last school year, Dillard High School had the third-highest number of criminal and violent incidents among all schools in Broward County. Nevertheless, school officials say this was an isolated event and in no way reflects any trend of violence at the school or in the district.
Wimberly lives with her grandparents, John and Shirley Wimberly, in unincorporated Broward County, just west of Fort Lauderdale. Her father, Jevon Wimberly, is serving a 25-year prison sentence after being convicted of attempted second-degree murder in 2007 for shooting a man in the shoulder.
Outside the Wimberly home Wednesday, family members declined to speak to reporters about the incident, but neighbors expressed shock.
“Something must have driven her to do this. She is smart and talented,” said Tim Jones, who lives next door to the Wimberlys. “She dressed like a tomboy, but was very polite and kept to herself. I can’t believe it.’’
According to school records, both Collette and Wimberly were in the school’s performing arts magnet programs. They had good grades. Collette was a ballerina and Wimberly was an honor student who studied music and played several instruments.
Neither school officials nor the family’s attorney would comment, but according to sources close to the situation who requested anonymity, Wimberly had been undergoing counseling for emotional and behavior problems at school.
Outside Wimberly’s grandparents’ home on the evening of the shooting, and after Wimberly had been charged, her attorney, Gary Kollin, said, “The family is grieving and in sorrow for the loss of a young girl. They hope that God can bring comfort to the family, and hope that with God’s help, their daughter and granddaughter will receive help.”
Associated Press Writers Antonio Gonzalez, Lisa Orkin Emmanuel, Rasha Madkour, Tamara Lush and Matt Sedensky contributed to this report.
Photo: Amanda Collette