ORLANDO, Fla. - The family of a 14-year-old student who shot and killed himself at a Lake Mary middle school said the boy took his own life because he was tormented by bullies.
Lamar "Shaq" Hawkins was found dead last week at Greenwood Lakes Middle School.26353114
Lamar's mother, Shaniqua Hawkins, said her son, who was small for his age because of health complications, was called "Shaq" because he had a "larger than life personality."
Hawkins said her son's size made him an easy target, adding that he was emotionally and physically abused.
"They pushed him down stairs, knocked him out of his chair in the cafeteria, mocked him due to his size and repeatedly attacked him with an intent to emotionally harm him," she said.
Hawkins, who was joined by her husband, Lamar, said their son never showed any signs, however, that he wanted to take his own life.
"Shaq was always so positive despite being tormented by bullies," Hawkins said. "(But the bullies) won because he took his life as a result of (the abuse)."
Hawkins said she believes her son took his life at school to send a message to the bullies. She also said the bullying began while the family was living in New York and continued in Florida.
"We made several attempts to put the school on notice there were bullies at school," Hawkins said, without adding any other details.
"There are no words to describe the death of our son right now," Hawkins said. "It's a feeling I hope no other parents has to feel. The hopelessness is overwhelming."
Attorney Matt Morgan, who's representing the Hawkins, said that the gun used in her son's suicide belonged to the boy's father, adding that it was stored properly.
Hawkins said Lamar's death is the second tragedy to hit their family in the past month. She said she recently gave birth, but the child didn't survive.
Morgan said the issue of bullying needs to be seriously addressed.
"People don't think it's that big of a deal, for whatever reason," Morgan said. "How many children have to die before bullies are held accountable for their actions?"
Later Monday, Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin released a statement about the Hawkins' news conference.
"This is a very tragic circumstance and our hearts and prayers remain with the family during this difficult time. We are aware the family held a press conference this morning and allegations of bullying were discussed. The School Board has a comprehensive bullying policy that is fully enforced in all of our schools.
"We must remind everyone that this is an ongoing law enforcement investigation and Seminole County Public Schools has cooperated fully from the beginning as the Seminole County Sheriff's Office works diligently to gather the facts surrounding this tragedy.
"The school district remains firmly committed to assisting the family, our students, faculty and staff with support as they continue to grieve and heal. Additional counselors are in place at the school and will remain for as long as necessary."
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said it continues to look into Lamar's death.
"The investigation is still ongoing as we continue to look into the events that led up to this tragedy," said Kim Cannaday, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.
The family has started a Go Fund Me account to raise money for Lamar's funeral expenses.
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