Lykos says office plans to investigate possible bullying link
By Peggy O’Hare, Houston Chronicle
Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos said her office will investigate what led to the suicide of a 13-year-old Cypresswood-area boy whose parents said he suffered two years of intense bullying from other students at school.
Asher Brown, an eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, shot himself in the head last week at his family’s home with his stepfather’s gun. Lykos said Thursday that her office will investigate whether bullying by other youths played a part in his death.
“We’re looking into why he committed suicide,” Lykos said on Thursday. “Was it bullying? Anytime a young person commits suicide and there is some evidence of bullying, we will look into it.”
Lykos said her office will examine whether there were instances of “egregious conduct” before Brown’s death. “I’m very concerned about this,” she said.
Brown killed himself around 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the family’s home in the 11700 block of Cypresswood after arriving home from school. He shot himself in his stepfather’s upstairs bedroom closet using a 9 mm Beretta that had been kept on a shelf there.
His stepfather, David Truong, later arrived home and found his body, authorities have said.
Child Protective Services caseworkers also are investigating the boy’s death and the circumstances surrounding it, said CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin.
Other students at Hamilton Middle School bullied Brown for his small size, because he didn’t wear designer clothes and because he was Buddhist, his parents said. He was also taunted with gay slurs and subjected to mock gay sex acts in his physical education class, his parents said. The bullying began two years ago, as soon as Brown’s family moved into the Cy-Fair school district’s jurisdiction, they said.
Truong said again Thursday that he and his wife, Amy, made many attempts to get school officials to do something about the bullying, but allege nothing was done. Truong said he was rebuffed on a half-dozen occasions when he tried to visit coaches at the school, while Amy Truong said school officials never returned many of her phone calls.
Cy-Fair ISD officials, however, have previously said no students, school employees or the boy’s parents ever reported that the eighth-grader was being bullied. School officials also said they have no record of the Truongs visiting the school in person since last year and that an e-mail sent by Amy Truong to a school counselor and an assistant principal in September addressed only ongoing problems at home and did not mention bullying.
Cy-Fair ISD spokeswoman Kelli Durham did not return a call or respond to a Chronicle e-mail Thursday asking whether the school district will re-evaluate its anti-bullying policies, hold assemblies or take further precautions to prevent similar events. Durham’s husband, Alan Durham, is an assistant principal at the school Brown attended.
Brown had told his stepfather on the morning of his death that he was gay, but the conversation’s tone was positive, David Truong said.
Brown’s funeral will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 13734 Lakewood Forest Drive. Mourners are asked to park next to Moore Elementary School. Those attending may wear shorts, flip-flops and T-shirts, “the way Asher would want it,” his family said.
From the Houston Chronicle