MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Grief counselors have been at Coconut Palm Academy all day Friday consoling a number of people who knew a 15-year-old student killed by police during an alleged armed robbery.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Police Officer Arrested On Domestic Violence Charge
Students to school officials who knew 8th grader Jorge Santiago Tapia are stunned. They say he was a sweet, quiet, helpful boy.
His sister and mother, speaking together for the first time, agree – giving CBS4 a different image than what was seen on the surveillance tape during the robbery.
“My son was an exemplary kid. I don’t have any words to comprehend this,” his mother, Laura Tapia, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “He didn’t even get a chance for them to see that he was just a kid, a kid that hadn’t even lived life.”
The mother of the 15-year-old and his sister are deeply upset that shortly after he was seen robbing a Walgreens store at gunpoint, he was shot and killed by Miami-Dade police officers after they said he pulled out his gun.
The Walgreens store is located at SW 288th St. and US 1. Police responded to a call at 1:50 a.m. and chased Tapia to S.W. 280th St. and S.W. 137th Ave. by the Florida Turnpike. That’s where the white car that Tapia had borrowed from a friend had a flat tire. That’s also where police said they saw Tapia display his weapon and they did not know if he was going to fire it.
“He was a good brother. All I can say is he did everything for the family,” said his sister, Angelica Santiago. “It was unfair to kill him like that without asking him what was going on.”
“He was my son, the most beautiful thing I had and they took him away from me without thinking,” said Laura Tapia. “I can’t believe how the police couldn’t just wait to see he was a child, a beautiful human being. He was a person, a human being, not an animal. They were hunting him like a dog.”
Police said they had to act quickly when Jorge Santiago Tapia displayed his gun while inside a car he had borrowed from a friend.
The police union said seven officers fired.READ MORE: Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gets Green Light For Full-Capacity Return In 2022
“He didn’t shoot anybody. So what’s the police job, to shoot him?” said Angelica Santiago.
Tapia’s sister says she has no idea how he got the gun. But she knows why he robbed this store.
“He was getting money for his family. His dad was about to get deported. So I guess he was desperate. He was trying to do that to help my mom,” said Angelica Santiago. “But he wasn’t going to kill anybody. I know my brother.”
But she added, “This was the first time he did anything like this.”
Jorge Santiago Tapia was an 8th grader at Coconut Palm Academy.
A schools spokeswoman said, “The Miami-Dade Public Schools’ family mourns. Obviously the details of the incident are disturbing, but we remain steadfast in our commitment to teaching the importance of making right choices.”
Chistian Drummond, who is in 8th grade at the Academy, told D’Oench, “He’s not the kind of kid who robs stores. He was a great student who never got referrals and had regular attendance. I am so surprised. I have known him since the 5th grade.”
“My son had so many dreams that he wanted to see come true top help his siblings, his sister. He wanted to live. He had dreams,” said Laura Tapia. “You left him there. You didn’t even help him, didn’t give him an opportunity. But I believe God is just and I’m waiting for justice from man. I know it exists.”
Laura Tapia has spoken with police but she wants more of her questions answered.
Jorge Santiago Tapia’s father is in custody and is in the process of being deported to Mexico.MORE NEWS: City Of Miami Unveils Interactive Kiosk To Help Visitors Navigate Wynwood
Police said they fired their weapons as a response to Jorge Santiago Tapia displaying his gun. They did not know if he was going to fire it at them or not.