A vigil for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was held Friday evening across from the boy’s school in Long Island City. Surveillance video show’s the child with autism darting out of the school the afternoon of Oct. 4. He’s been missing ever since.
A 24-hour volunteer command center has been set up. Cops and community members trade tips with one goal: to find Avonte. The boy’s father, Daniel Oquendo Sr., came in from Florida to join in the massive effort which is in its 8th day. He dismissed any possibility of foul play.
“No. I’m not concerned at all,” said Mr. Oquendo. “All I know is my son is missing, and I hope he’s okay, and I’m positive we’re going to find him.”
NYPD helicopters and boats remain an ever present part of the mission, searching over and on the East River.
Because of Avonte’s fascination with trains, police and volunteers continue to search subway tunnels as well as NJ Transit and the LIRR.
“The police officers started telling us we should start checking East Manhattan, the 4, 5 and 6 lines,” said Daniel Oquendo Jr., Avonte’s older brother.
He told PIX 11 that police are checking out known sexual predators in the area.
“It only made sense for them to start canvassing the area for sexual predators. It’s been a week now and they have to start taking other possibilities, aside just Avonte out running by himself and hiding somewhere,” said Danny Oquendo Jr.
Avonte’s mom, Vanessa Fontaine, appeared on the PIX 11 Morning News on Friday, saying she can’t bear to see the surveillance video showing her son leaving his school.
“I can’t look at it. I break down and cry,” Fontaine said. “That’s the last time I’m seeing my son.”