The two 11-year-old girls had planned their after-school fight. When the time came, a few shoves and punches were exchanged, and it was over within a minute. But hours later one of them was dead.
The Los Angeles County coroner's office was investigating how Joanna Ramos could leave the alley near her Long Beach elementary school with a bloody nose and end up dying in an intensive care unit.
The cause of death, and the circumstances behind it left family, friends and authorities confused and seeking answers.
"I personally don't hear of 11-year-old fights like this especially girls. I can't say they never happen but I think everyone was completely caught off-guard by this event." police spokeswoman Nancy Pratt said Sunday.
Pratt urged caution about linking the fight to the girl's death with certainty until a coroner's report is released. Police, who have interviewed the other girl involved in the fight, were investigating and said that no arrests are immediately planned.
Joanna returned to an after-school program after the fight, but her mother was called when she wasn't feeling well.
"My daughter started complaining, saying she doesn't feel good, let's go home, so we went to home and I changed her clothes, and she go to sleep, that's the only thing that I know," Joanna's mother, Cecilia Villanueva told KNBC-TV. "We took her to the hospital but it was too late. She was in a coma."
Ramos died at a hospital at 9 p.m. Friday, about six hours after the fight near Willard Elementary, police said. Authorities have not released the girl's name but Villanueva told KNBC the girl who died was her daughter, Joanna.
"I want to know what happened," she said through tears.
Stephanie Guadalupe, a friend of Joanna, said the girls were fighting over a boy.
"I told the teacher and she said she would talk to all the girls on Monday," Guadalupe said.
"They took off their backpacks, and they put their hair in a bun, and then that's when they said `go' and that's when they started hitting each other," Joanna's friend and classmate Maggie Martinez, who watched the fight, told KNBC.
Martinez and other friends said they tried to stop the fight, but were held back by boys who were watching and wanted it to continue.
"There are times when words do not convey the sense of sadness we feel," Mayor Bob Foster said at a press conference. "This is one of those times."