Cincinnati Mother of Young Boy Who Committed Suicide Urges Parents to ‘Help Fix This Epidemic’

The mother of Gabriel Taye urged parents to “help fix this epidemic in our society” that she said took her 8-year-old son’s life in a Jan. 26 suicide two days after another student assaulted him at school.

Separately, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Saturday his office has opened a review of Gabriel’s death and wants to examine a computer Gabriel owned for any clues.

“I am my son’s voice, and it will be heard,” said a statement from Gabriel’s mother, Cornelia Reynolds of Cincinnati. “It is my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again. No, this will not go away. People need to know the truth and help fix this epidemic in our society by spreading awareness and speaking up.

“Parents: It is OK to tell your children to reach for help when someone is hurting them, whether it is at school, outside, home, or anywhere.”

Reynolds issued the statement Friday evening, hours after Cincinnati Public Schools released a 23-minute security-camera video from Carson Elementary in West Price Hill. The video shows the entrance to a boys’ restroom over the noon hour Jan. 24.

Saturday morning, Hamilton County Prosecutor Deters said his office is looking into the incident. “We are all over it,” he said.

Deters said his office wants to look at a notebook computer that Gabriel owned “to see if there’s any indication on it of what had happened to him. It’s just so bizarre to everyone who’s looked at this thing. How could an 8-year-old do this?”

Deters said he has assigned Mark Piepmeier, first assistant prosecutor in the office’s criminal division, to handle the case. Deters said his office is working with Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco, who on Thursday reopened her investigation into Gabriel’s death.

“Obviously, we’re her counsel on this, and we’re available for anything she needs,” he said. “These are very delicate areas when dealing with juveniles.” According to Deters, Cincinnati Public Schools officials “have been very cooperative.”

“It’s just heart-breaking,” Deters said. “The whole thing is sickening.”

A week after Gabriel’s death, a Cincinnati police homicide detective investigated and reviewed the video with a school security officer. The detective, although he called the incident bullying that bordered on criminal assault, left the matter to the school system. Police spokesman Lt. Steve Saunders declined to answer questions about the investigation because the Hamilton County coroner has reopened her review of the facts.

In the video, Gabriel Taye walks into the restroom and reaches out to shake hands with another student. That student instead pulls Gabriel into the restroom wall, and Gabriel drops to the ground. The other student disappears. For more than six minutes, Gabriel does not move as other students poke, kick, touch or walk past his unmoving form. Then the assistant principal arrives, joined by other adults. They get Gabriel on his feet, and he walks away with them.

Reynolds said she got a call from the school to pick Gabriel up because he had fainted. She said the school did not tell her that her child had been assaulted. Later that night, he began vomiting. She took him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he was treated and released the next morning as a case of stomach flu. He stayed home from school that day but returned to Carson Elementary the next day, Jan. 26. That evening, he hanged himself with his tie from his bunk bed.

On Friday, leaders of the Ohio Senate asked that chamber’s education committees to look into the matter.

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Source: USA TODAY | Anne Saker