Members of the Joplin area are being invited to attend a Candlelight Vigil for 14-year-old Rezwan Kohistani Saturday at 8 pm in Webb City at King Jack Park.
The Kansas City Star reports the 14-year-old boy was found dead near the school’s baseball field on Thursday, May 5, after an alleged suicide.
Webb City Police continue to investigate the circumstances around his death but say it could take several weeks for a full autopsy to be returned. Police Chief Don Melton says there were no initial signs of foul play.
UPDATE – Webb City Police have released this statement:
“On Thursday, May 5, 2022, at 07:19 hours officers with the Webb City Police Department began investigating the unattended death of a minor. This is a tragedy that no family should ever have to endure. This child was the son, brother, nephew, & grandson that was loved by many friends.
With utmost respect for, and approval from, the family, we decided not to publicize our investigation. We have been in constant contact with the family, giving them details of the investigation from the very beginning along with updates as they come in. Ultimately, the family are the ones that truly need to know the information. With continued respect to the family, we spoke with them before releasing this statement.
Although there were no obvious signs of foul play at the crime scene or with the initial results from the autopsy, we decided not to publicize any information until we received the official copy of the completed autopsy. We would not want to come to a conclusion until all of the evidence has been processed and all of the facts have been collected. This takes time. As a standard practice, we have not made public the information from a death investigation where there were no obvious signs of foul play. We spoke with reporters from our local news syndicates, and they agreed that they would not run a story like this until all the facts were collected.
We have seen and read the posts on social media saying that the child was a victim of bullying. We have been working closely with administrators and teachers from the school district from the initial call. We have been unable to substantiate any of these allegations. It is unfortunate that a select few have turned this family’s tragedy into an opportunity to get more social media followers or “likes.” It is also inappropriate that many have chosen to share these posts without attempting to validate the information first. To date, none of the people posting on social media have contacted the police department to provide information to assist us in our investigation.
We encourage those posting their speculations of bullying to contact the police department so that we can follow up on their information that they have been posting. We encourage anyone with any information about this case to contact our investigators. In the end we want to give the family, the factual truth of what happened to their child.
We appreciate those who have been patient, trusting us to conduct our investigation without fueling the speculation and hindering our process.”
A GoFundMe set up for the family has raised over $24,000 from over 575 donations to help with costs associated with their loss and their new chapter of life in Texas.
The fundraiser says Rezwan, his parents, three brothers and 5-year-old sister escaped the conflict in Afghanistan last fall and resettled here in southwest Missouri.
On Monday, the Webb City School District released this statement:
The district has been asked by local media to provide information regarding the events that took place on May 5th that resulted in the death of one of our students. The Webb City School District responded by contacting local authorities, emergency personnel, and followed the District’s Crisis Plan. As part of the District’s Crisis Plan, Administration met with the parents’ representative on May 5th before releasing any information to staff and students. Counselors have been provided for staff and students who may need additional support. This is an ongoing investigation, and the district has and will continue to fully cooperate with the local authorities throughout the process.”
The district says they notified students and staff of Kohistani’s death the day the tragedy occurred after a staff member found his body.