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Police: 10-year-old boy committed suicide

February 17, 2009 2:55:11 PM PST
Ten-year-old Aquan Lewis committed suicide earlier this month at his Evanston elementary school, according to the results of an investigation released Tuesday by police and school authorities. While police and school district officials are working on wrapping up their investigation, Aquan Lewis' homeroom teacher has been placed on administrative leave.

What investigators are trying to figure out is, At what point did Aquan leave his class and for how long? For now, the conclusion that the 10-year-old fifth grader took his own life is hard for his family to accept.

After a two-week investigation, Evanston police say 10-year-old Aquan Lewis did in fact commit suicide by hanging himself in a bathroom stall in his elementary school. Police released evidence Tuesday including the 9-1-1 call.

They also released photos of other evidence which they say proves Aquan's death was deliberate, including his polo shirt, showing a hole poked through by a coat hook. His shirt was buttoned up all the way, according to police, which his classmates say he never did. There is also a photo of a footprint on a toilet seat.

"This footprint was in such a manner that if you were to imagine somebody stepping up on the toilet seat and then going back onto a hook, that in fact was the way that the foot print indicated that that happened," said Cmdr. Tom Guenther, Evanston Police.

It was two weeks ago when Aquan was found hanging and unresponsive in a bathroom stall at Oakton Elementary. Authorities are still piecing together the timeline of what happened that day, but they say he may have been unhappy at times.

"Student interviews did concur, as far as that goes, that Aquan had talked about hurting himself," said Guenther.

School district officials say Oakton staff is trained in suicide and abuse prevention and did not have any concerns about Aquan's mental state. He disappeared from his homeroom class for anywhere between 5 to 40 minutes before he was discovered missing. Some students found him in the bathroom.

"As I understand it, the teacher started moving his students toward gym class somewhere between 2:40 and 2:45. At that point it appears that the teacher realized that the young man was not with them," said Supt. Hardy Murphy, Evanston District 65.

At first, Aquan's mother disputed the medical examiner's conclusion, saying her son did not commit suicide. Two weeks later she still has a hard time with the ruling.

"It's difficult to accept the proposition that a child, your child, would do something to hurt themselves," said Todd Smith, mother's attorney.

Smith said the family wants to look into whether anything happened that day at school to make Aquan upset, because, according to his mother, he left for school very happy that day.


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