NEW BEDFORD (CBS) – The Bristol County District Attorney says the death of a 12-year-old New Bedford boy is suicide by hanging. Now the family of Clifford Rodrigues and the school community is trying understand why it happened.
“It’s an unfathomable tragedy,” said District Attorney Samuel Sutter. Police received a 911 call at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for a life-threatening emergency at 98 South 2nd Street.
Emergency crews found the 12-year-old unconscious in an upstairs bedroom. His family says he had been watching television with them, and disappeared upstairs.
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports
“The mother didn’t hear any music or the door shut, anything. She went upstairs to call him and he didn’t answer,” said family friend Helen daCruz.
Earlier in the day the boy was involved in a scuffle with a couple of students. The family says punches were thrown and Rodrigues was suspended. School Superintendent Mary Louise Francis says the boy had some behavioral issues and was receiving services, though she wouldn’t elaborate.
“We certainly have been providing support services to the youngster at the school. We’ve been very vigilant in providing what he needed,” she said.
School officials say they moved quickly to support students, especially since another middle schooler, 11-year-old Elijah Lopes, took his life last year, and a high school student, 17-year-old Andrew McCann, who was killed in a car crash, was just buried.
District Attorney Sutter says he does not believe this to be a case of bullying, but he says the investigation into the death has only begun.
“We have plans in place right now. I’m sure we’re going to take a look and see if something more can be done,” he said.