ITALY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – An Ellis County grand jury on Wednesday indicted a North Texas teen accused of shooting a classmate at Italy High School earlier this year.
According to court filings, 16-year-old Chad Padilla, faces six felony counts – including two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held on a $300,000 bond.
The freshman who was gunned down in the school cafeteria says she’s making great strides in her recovery, despite frequent nightmares about that day.
“There are some nights where I just cry and I can’t control it,” said Noelle Jones, who turned 16 since the shooting. “But I don’t want to be treated as a victim. I just want to be heard.”
Jones’ interview with CBS11 was her first time commenting publicly since the January 22 attack when she was shot six times at close range.
“It’s my time to show people who I am and what I plan to do to make myself and other people stronger,” said Jones, who will be a sophomore when she returns to school in the fall.
Last week, an Ellis County judge ruled the 16-year-old alleged gunman will stand trial as an adult. Padilla shot at another student but missed, according to police.
The attack in Italy, about 40 miles south of Dallas, was one of the first school shootings of 2018.
“‘Oh my god, we’re in a small town, it’s a little school, everybody knows everybody — how can this happen?’” Lee Jones recalls thinking after getting the call about her daughter.
Noelle Jones suffered a fractured pelvis, bruised liver and nerve damage among other injuries. Miraculously, the bullets missed every major organ. The teen’s upper body is scarred by entry and exit wounds.
“Then I have one big incision where they removed 12 inches of my small intestine,” she said.
The Joneses say they are speaking out five months later to set the record straight. In the aftermath of the shooting, they said some news outlets inaccurately reported that the shooter was their daughter’s boyfriend.
“She was not dating him,” Lee Jones said. “This happened because she wouldn’t.”
“I was at the cafeteria table,” Noelle Jones recalls. “I had a small conversation with him and then that’s when it happened.”
Noelle said she believed she was going to die. She credits the staff at Parkland Memorial Hospital and first responders for keeping her alive, especially Lee Guidry, an Italy teacher who is also her Air Force Auxiliary commander.
“He got my shooter away from me and he walked over and applied pressure to my wounds,” she said.
Rather than dwelling on her injuries, the young survivor said she would much rather discuss her mission to help others.
“I don’t want to be treated as a victim,” she said. “I just want to be heard.”
“She doesn’t want to be known as the girl who was shot at Italy High School,” her mother said.
“I want to be known as the person who is going to help make a difference,” Noelle Jones said.