Brandy Vela’s text message to her family Tuesday was more than a little alarming: “I love you so much just remember that please and I’m so sorry for everything.”
Her older sister Jacqueline told KPRC-TV she arrived at her family’s Texas home and heard crying — so the 22-year-old ran upstairs to Brandy’s bedroom.
“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,’” Vela shared with KPRC through her own tears.
Soon other family members arrived home, all of them pleading with Brandy — an 18-year-old senior at Texas City High School — to not pull the trigger.
“And we tried to persuade her to put the gun down, but she was determined,” her father Raul Vela told KHOU-TV. “She said she’d come too far to turn back. It was very unfortunate that I had to see that. It’s hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless.”
Then, in front of her parents and grandparents, Brandy shot herself, KPRC reported. Police told the station she died at a hospital.
“I was in my parents’ room and I just heard the shot and my dad just yelled, ‘Help me, help me, help me,’” Jacqueline Vela told KPRC.
“My heart’s broken,” Raul Vela told KHOU. “I lost my angel today.”
In the end, despite many friends who loved her as well as love she got at home, Brandy Vela took her life after a continual onslaught of cyberbullying, her family said. Much of the abuse focused on her weight, but her loved ones revealed it got much worse than that.
“They would make dating websites of her and they would put her number and they would put her picture and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her,” Jacqueline Vela told KPRC.
The fake pages of Brandy would be taken down but then popped up again days later, KHOU noted.
“Sometimes she wouldn’t sleep,” Raul Vela told KHOU. “She’d call me at night. She’d say, ‘Dad, I can’t sleep. My phone keeps ringing.’”
Despite her family reporting the bullying to the school district and Galveston County law enforcement multiple times, there have been no arrests, KPRC said.
“And nobody was willing to help,” Raul Vela told KHOU. “The help never came.”
“School was a safe environment for Brandy,” Melissa Tortorici, Texas City Independent School District’s director of communications, said in a statement to KPRC. “She had a lot of friends and was thought of warmly by her peers and teachers. She did bring it to the school’s attention before Thanksgiving break that she was getting harassing messages to her cellphone outside of school. Our deputy investigated it, and the app that was being used to send the messages was untraceable. We encouraged her to change her phone number.”
That’s just what she did, the Vela family told KPRC — but bullies always seemed to find Brandy again.
“We have a lot of incident reports and they always say the same thing: ‘They can’t do anything about it,’” Jacqueline Vela told KPRC.
Texas City police Department told KPRC it continues to investigate the cyberbullying allegations, and Jacqueline Vela added that she and her siblings — having a good idea who may be responsible for some of it — have been assisting authorities.
But even if justice comes, it won’t bring back Brandy.
“I’m glad you got what you wanted,” Victor Vela, Brandy’s 19-year-old brother, told her faceless abusers in his interview with KPRC. “I hope this makes you happy.”