TEXAS CITY, Texas - One day after Brandy Vela took her own life, the father of the 18-year-old cyber-bullying victim demanded justice.
“I want to see these people get locked up,” said Raul Vela. “I hope they get what they deserve because I didn’t deserve this.”
Vela’s daughter Brandy was a Texas City High School Senior who he claims cried out for help from the bullies who were tormenting her on social media.
According to Vela, the harassment began more than a year ago when someone began using her picture online.
“And continually posting nasty things about her,” added Vela. “Set up an account saying she was actually soliciting sex.”
Then came the harassing calls.
“Sometimes she wouldn’t sleep. She’d call me at night. She’d say 'Dad, I can’t sleep. My phone keeps ringing.'”
The bogus pages would be taken down only to re-emerge days later. Brandy and her family complained to the authorities and to anyone who would listen.
On Tuesday, Brandy sent out an email to her family members telling them she was going to kill herself. They rushed home and found her alive.
“And we tried to persuade her to put the gun down but she was determined. 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.”
Brandy shot herself in front of her family moments later.
Under Texas Penal Code 42.07, it is illegal to send repeated electronic communications to harass, annoy, torment or embarrass someone. The crime is a class B misdemeanor. But a state lawmaker has introduced a bill that if passed, would dramatically toughen the penalties for cyber-bullying.
The hope is that it will prevent future tragedies, and memorials like the one that now sits across the street from the teen's high school.