How I knew Cesar



Zoe made this poster and carried it at the rally.

To me, he was a classmate. To some, he was a teammate, a friend, brother, cousin, and son. 

I really didn’t know him as well as some did. We met freshman year.

I was new to Bellaire and didn’t know a single soul. I had Mr. Moritz’s biology class and sat in the front row. Cesar walked in and sat down next to me. He was wearing his JROTC uniform. Everyone else in our class never spoke to me. They were loud and did not pay attention.

Cesar and I had two things in common: we were quiet and very hardworking. I vaguely remember us talking about school work, and he was always willing to help. Last semester we were in the same government class and this semester we were supposed to finish economics together.

The tragic day he died, I had one of the best days ever. I had fun in Arabic Club. I felt in control of my school work. I had a good conversation with my newspaper staff at lunch.

When I got home I went downstairs to eat dinner. My dad was sitting at the kitchen table and asked me, “Has your phone has been blowing up?” I hadn’t been checking my phone and he told me there was a shooting at my school. I turned on the news and the caption at the bottom read: SHOOTER STILL AT LARGE, ESCAPED FROM SCENE.

I immediately called all of my classmates and checked various social media platforms to see who, what, where, why, when, and how. There were rumors going around and the victim had not been identified yet. I heard helicopters flying around above my house, searching for the runaway. There were so many questions flying around in my head. I just wanted answers. 

I asked my friend if she knew who took the fatal blow. She told me to look on her Snapchat post. Videos showed students crowded around an ambulance in the Circle Drive. The next snap revealed a picture of him with an American Flag baseball cap and a crooked smile.

I dropped my phone. I bawled and screamed.

My whole family was in the room, and words cannot describe how I felt. The caption read “R.I.P Senior Cesar Cortes.” The next picture was someone else I knew. I read a caption filled with negativity and curse words. Could this be the shooter? Is this who ended Cesar Cortes’s life?

Cesar had so many amazing things going for him. He was interested in the military and planned to fight for our country. I miss looking behind me and seeing him sit in the back of class, listening to music and working on classwork. Now desk number 29 is empty.

It was extremely hard to see my classmate in a casket. 

Cesar Cortes is a hero. I will do whatever I can to keep his memory alive.