Authorities in Oklahoma on Monday were unable to confirm if bullying was involved after a 15-year-old male killed himself with a gun in a Cowetta school bathroom.
Speaking to reporters at press conference, Superintendent Jeff Holmes explained that a “ninth grade student at Cowetta Intermediate High School died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound” soon after school began on Monday morning.
Coweta Police Lieutenant Donnie Krumsiek praised the school faculty for their response, saying that “unfortunately a life was lost but it could have been a lot worse.”
“You’ve seen the same coverage I have, school shootings where multiple lives are lost,” Krumsiek told reporters. “We’re very fortunate that didn’t occur today.”
Several reporters noted that witnesses had said bullying may have been a factor in the student’s death, but Krumsiek said he had no evidence to support that claim and Holmes refused to release any personal information regarding the victim.
“We do have a bullying policy,” Holmes remarked. “There’s zero tolerance for bullying in each of our schools — starting from elementary school on up — have extensive character education programs and a component of each of those would be suicide prevention.”
“I’m not going to comment on the student,” he insisted, noting that the principals and counselors described the ninth grader as “a very fine young man.”
Holmes said he was not yet sure if criminal charges were possible if bullying was suspected in the case.
“We want parents to know that we care about their kids, we care about every single one of their kids,” the superintendent added as he choked up. “That’s all I have at this point.”
Watch this video from KTUL, broadcast Feb. 4, 2013.