An 11-year-old girl died at a hospital several hours after an after school fight outside Long Beach's Willard Elementary school that at first didn't appear to be especially serious or violent, police said Saturday night.
The girl and another 11-year-old girl had planned the fight during the school day and briefly fought in an alley immediately after school Friday, with about seven other students watching.
"We believe the fight lasted about one minute, did not involve any weapons, and we believe nobody was knocked to the ground," Deputy Chief Robert Luna said at a news conference.
The girl returned to an afterschool program and apparently had few visible signs of trauma, but adults noticed she wasn't feeling well and called her parents, who took her to the hospital, Luna said.
After undergoing emergency surgery, the girl died in an intensive care unit shortly before 9 p.m., some six hours after the fight, police said.
No arrests have been made and none were immediately planned, police said.
"It's hard to understand how this could happen," Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said at the news conference. "For the family involved this is tragic beyond words, and for the city it diminishes the future for all of us."
A cause of death has not been determined, and the Los Angeles County coroner's office will conduct an autopsy. Coroner's investigators reached by phone Saturday night said there is a security hold on the case and they could release no information.
The girl's name hasn't been released but family members told KTLA her name was Joanna Ramos. The family told the station the girls were fighting over a boy.
Detectives have interviewed the other girl in the fight, the seven witnesses, and the families and friends of both girls involved, Luna said.
They said there is no indication that the girl who died had been a victim of bullying, and no indication that any school officials knew the fight was going to happen or knew of previous problems between the two girls, he said.
School Superintendent Chris Steinhauser said letters were being sent to each family at Willard Elementary, a school of about 800 students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, and grief counselors would be on campus for students and staff Monday.