"She's okay. I'm just happy she's okay," one mother told Local 10's Terrell Forney. "I just saw her and she hasn't said anything. I'm just happy that she's here with me. She's already scared."
Others were forced to wait during the afternoon.
"Just waiting for them to let me take them home," said Maria Romero, whose two children were on the bus. "I just wanted to see that they're fine."
"It's traumatic for them for what they had to witness to begin with and now you're going to have to question them to ask them exactly what they saw," said Zabaleta. "You know, it's tragic. Anytime it deals with a child, and then, of course, when we get the phone call that they confirmed that she passed away, it's very sad."
Concerned parents gathered at the shooting site, which was cordoned off by crime scene tape as authorities combed the bus for evidence and gathered children's backpacks and belongings. The shooting occurred about seven minutes away from the school.
Fabian Otero said he was relieved his son Christian, an eighth-grader at Palm Glades, rode to school with his wife. He said he and his wife have been shaken by the killing and are going to discuss enrolling their son in a different school or possibly homeschooling him.
"I was stunned! I was stunned!" he said. "That hits really close to home. That's just scary."
Local 10's Carlos Suarez spoke to the mother of a student who was also riding the bus at the time. She said the driver had just started the route when the shooting happened.
"I'm lucky that my daughter had a cellphone and I'm able to talk to her and that she's okay and my other daughter's okay and I'm just praying that the other -- whoever it is that went to the hospital, that they're okay," said Maria Ramiro.
About a dozen parents picked up their children early, said Lynn Norman-Teck, a spokeswoman for Florida Consortium of Public Charter School. Only a throng of TV news crews camped outside signaled the violence from earlier in the morning.
Many of the students had not heard about the shooting and the school did not make an announcement before school was dismissed, but word started to trickle out as they walked outside to waiting school buses.
Thirteen-year-old Eric Carillo said he was in the same class as the victim a few years ago.
"She was a good girl. She was fun," the 13-year-old said.
Sarah Baer said she wouldn't let her daughter walk home from school because there are rough neighborhoods a few blocks away.
"I always take my daughter to and from school. This is so heartbreaking especially right before Thanksgiving," she said.
The school bus was not equipped with video surveillance equipment.
A phone message left for the private school bus company was not immediately returned.
Howe faces one count of manslaughter and one count carrying a concealed firearm. Both are felonies. Howe has not been charged as an adult.