SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican teenager Karla Michelle Negron Velez, who was hit by a stray bullet during New Year’s festivities, has died after struggling for her life for nearly two weeks, her mother told local media.
The 15-year-old aspiring ballet dancer, who died Friday, was wounded by a bullet that struck her in the back of the head while she was ringing in the new year with her family at their residence in this capital’s Villa Palmeras sector.
Carlos Negron and Evelyn Velez had been at their comatose daughter’s side at all times at the San Juan Medical Center and their hopes had been raised when she moved her hands while listening to music a week ago.
For his part, Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuño said he deeply regretted Negron Velez’s death, added that he, his wife, Luce Vela, and the rest of the population “had had the hope that she would recover.”
“I can assure Evelyn and Carlos that the Puerto Rican people join them in an embrace of solidarity. We only ask God to grant them the necessary strength and resignation to overcome this physical separation,” Fortuño said in a press release.
The incident occurred despite a government campaign against the firing of gunshots into the air during New Year’s festivities.
A total of 1,136 homicides were committed in Puerto Rico last year, the most violent in the island’s recent history, according to authorities, which said more than half of the murders were drug-related.
The island has become a key transshipment point for illegal drugs en route from South America to the mainland United States.
Fortuño has requested assistance from U.S. federal authorities to battle crime in Puerto Rico, where an average of three people a day are killed in violent incidents.