LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (PIX11) – Its been nearly two weeks since a teen with autism disappeared from his school in Long Island City, and there still has been no sign of him.
Now the search for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo has intensified with police using helicopters, additional officers on foot and boats. They have plastered the city with missing person posters.
The teen has been gone since October 4 when he ran away from the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. Across the street from the school, police have set up a mobile command center and the family has been holding a vigil in two tents where they wait for word. “We pretty much have people out and about searching for Avonte 24 hours a day and if we are not out there we have people here at the tent giving out information about Avonte,” said his brother Danny Oquendo Jr., who came up from his home in Orlando to help with the search.
Avonte’s family says the teen, who is unable to speak, likes trains. Much of the search has been focusing on the subways. The NYPD says all 468 stations in the system as well as all tunnels, bathrooms and abandoned stations have been searched. It’s lead the family to think he may have run away from the school and later been abducted. “I think someone has to have him. If he has been out and about someone would have seen him,” his brother told PIX11 News. “New York is a big city but there are millions of people that would have had the opportunity to see him if he was on trains wandering around.”
The family says if you spot the teen, you should call police and follow him rather than approach him. They are concerned he could be frightened and run away.