ITALY, Texas - The teenager who shot a classmate at Italy High School last year will spend the next few decades in prison.
In January 2018, 16-year-old Chad Padilla opened fire inside the school’s cafeteria and shot 16-year-old Mahkayla Jones six times in the neck, arm and abdomen.
Classmates said the two had been in a relationship, and he was upset about the breakup. He allegedly walked up to her and told her, “I’m sorry it had to end this way.” He then reportedly shot her with a 380 semi-automatic handgun he took from his father’s house.
Prosecutors said Padilla wore a trench coat and only stopped shooting when he ran out of ammunition. He also targeted another boy but missed his head.
The now 18-year-old agreed to a plea deal last week. On Monday, he was sentenced to 40 years on an attempted murder charge and 20 years on each of the aggravated assault indictments. Those sentences will be served concurrently, or at the same time.
Ellis County District Attorney Patrick Wilson said Mahkayla’s family is very happy with the outcome.
“We were close before to having an agreement. We notified the family that we had an agreement. They were very relieved and excited to know that they were about to get to put this behind them,” he said. “The deal fell through at the last minute. So when the deal was revived recently, we actually brought Mr. Padilla with his attorney over to court last week where he entered his guilty plea before we notified the victim’s family.”
Padilla will have to serve a minimum of 20 years before he’s eligible for parole.
“People might think that’s an outrageous sentence for an 18-year-old. But as was made clear during the certification hearing last year, this is a young man with a history of disturbing violent tendencies, harm towards animals, violent outbursts towards his peers,” Wilson said. “And he’s a young man that had been afforded opportunities for help and rehabilitation, and nothing worked. So at some point, we have to just for the protection of society versus the rehabilitation of the offender.”
Mahkayla is downright giddy after a year and a half anticipating the day in court when she'd confront the boy who shot her after his sentencing.
“Right now, this is the greatest day of my life,” she said. “You get shot six times. You're looking at him dead in the face the whole time. And you're looking at him dead in the face again, and you're like, 'Oh, God. Is that just going to be the memory the whole time?'”
Mahkayla says she can’t forget what Padilla did to her but did tell him on Monday that she forgives him.
“I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and all I see are scars from him. I can't forget that, but I can forgive him because, whether I hold a grudge or not, it's not going to change what happened to me,” she said. “It’s not going to change if he gets 40 years or life. Either way, I’m going to have to deal with it and grow up. And I just decided to grow up and deal with it like a woman.”
Mahkayla says there are days she can't even get out of bed, but she won't allow herself to take on the role of the victim, and neither will her mother, Lee Jones.
“I'm very proud of her,” Lee said. “It's been a tough road for her, physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Mahkayla now has specific words for anyone who would consider bringing a weapon to school.
“That's not okay. It's sick and it's twisted,” she said. “Don't do it because you'll see where it gets you.”
Mahkayla says she looks up to other survivors of school shootings and says her advice to them is the advice she tells herself: keep going.
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