LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (PIX11) – It’s been a week since a teen with autism disappeared from his Long Island City school. Now there’s word that police are desperately trying to find him and have been following leads from psychics. The Daily News is reporting there have been tips from psychics on the tips line and that cops followed a lead and searched a tunnel near Tompkins Square but came up empty.
There has been a massive citywide search for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo. Appearing on the PIX 11 Morning Show, his mother Vanessa Fontaine said, I’m just hoping and praying he’s somewhere safe. The weather has been changing.” She went on to say, “I hope someone is feeding him or he goes into a store and grabs something. That he’s okay….. and we’ll find him.”
The teen who has autism and doesn’t speak was last seen on surveillance tape running through and leaving the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. That was last Friday at about 12:45p.m. His grandmother says a security guard told her she stopped him briefly. “The security guard said to me, he came by, I stopped him. And I said where are you going and he just kept going. And I said to her why would you do that? And she said she didn’t know he had a disability.” The school system has not confirmed that account. But the boy’s mother described him saying, “He’s a sweet loving boy. He looks just like me.”
Wednesday the family filed a claim to sue the city and the Department of Education for not properly supervising the teen. “I picked the school because it was a new school and it was well equipped to handle my child being that he’s a special needs child and they failed me.”
Meanwhile, Avonte’s mom remains hopeful and has a plea to New Yorkers. “Please if you see him call, don’t wait hours later. Please just call the authorities and let us identify him.”
If you see him you are asked to call the crime stoppers tip line at 1-(800)-577- TIPS.