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New Orleans school closed Friday to mourn 2 students shot to death: 'We are deeply saddened'

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Success Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public school in Mid-City, closed Friday for a day of mourning after two students were shot and killed within eight days of one another.

"Our school community has been through a series of unbearable losses,” school officials said in a statement announcing the day of mourning Thursday. “Please take this time to hold your friends, family and community close."

Second-grader Dillan Burton, 7, was shot and killed on Dec. 26 while riding in the car with her mother and younger sister, according to the New Orleans Police Department.

Police said someone opened fire on the vehicle near the intersection of General de Gaulle Boulevard and Hendee Street in Algiers at about 8:43 p.m. Dillan, who was sitting in the backseat with her sister, died at the hospital from her injuries. Her sister suffered minor cuts from broken glass, and her mother was not physically injured.

Eight days later, sixth-grader Derrick Cash, 12, was shot and left to die on an isolated street in New Orleans East on Monday morning, police said.

Derrick’s aunt Lexis Cash told the the Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate that Derrick’s mother, Pamela Cash, spoke to her son Monday morning before he went to a friend’s house at about 8 a.m.

Less than two hours later, Derrick was found shot in the 14000 block of Michoud Boulevard and died before medical help could arrive, police said.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths of Dillan Burton and Derrick Cash, two of our bright students at Success Preparatory Academy, taken by violence in recent days,” NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said in a statement sent to New Orleans Public Radio on Friday.

At this time, no arrests have been made in either case, and anyone with information should contact CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 1-877-903-7867. Callers do not have to give their names or testify and can earn a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an indictment.

Classes at Success Preparatory Academy are scheduled to resume Monday.

Aubri Juhasz is the education reporter for New Orleans Public Radio. Before coming to New Orleans, she was a producer for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She helped lead the show's technology and book coverage and reported her own feature stories, including the surge in cycling deaths in New York City and the decision by some states to offer competitive video gaming to high school students as an extracurricular activity.

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