A Utah teen shot himself dead in front of shocked classmates on Thursday, reportedly after years of bullying and mistreatment.
Fox 13 reports that 14-year-old David Q. Phan, a student at Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville, shot himself in the head in front of several shocked students on a skywalk leading to the school just before 3:00 pm on Thursday.
Police say the boy left the school about an hour and a half earlier with his mother after a visit to the principal's office, then returned with a gun.
"I was just walking. I hear a big sound and I hear everybody yelling and then I turned around and saw it and there was a lot of blood," witness Ethan Wily told Fox 13.
Phan was still alive when emergency responders arrived at the gruesome scene. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at a local hospital.
Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said that the gun Phan used to shoot himself came from a locked safe in his family home.
Classmate Maheta Wily said that Phan had been the victim of bullying over the course of several years.
"I kind of did feel it coming," she said of the teen's suicide. "But I didn't know it would go that far. They name-called, they played jokes on him, they had charity week and they sent him a telegram teasing him and in PE class they stole his clothes."
"He was nice to everyone, even if sometimes people weren't nice to him," classmate Brandon Newby told KSL at a Thursday night candle light vigil for Phan.
"I don't think people realize how much words can hurt," commented student Makayla Schmidt.
The Granite School District released a statement on its Facebook page saying it is investigating the bullying allegations but that it was unaware of any such incidents since no one, not even Phan, had reported anything.
"This student had been contacted regularly by a school counsellor (over the past 18 months) to monitor his well-being specific to concerns with bullying," the statement said. "Despite being questioned on an ongoing basis, this student did not report any instances of bullying. Additionally, the administration has not received any reports of bullying of this student from the student himself or from other students. This is not to say that bullying was not an issue (as that continues to be investigated), but that bullying issues cannot be addressed unless they are reported."