New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is not hopeful that missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, who disappeared three weeks ago, will be found alive.
"Obviously we have devoted a tremendous amount of resources to the search," Kelly said, according to WABC. "Unfortunately, we are not hopeful that we're going to find this young man alive, but we are continuing our search."
Despite Kelly's pessimism that Avonte will be found alive, he still encouraged people to submit any tips on the autistic teen’s disappearance.
“We are continuing to put information out. We’re talking to jurisdictions in the northeast quadrant of the United States,” Kelly told CBS New York.
But Avonte’s family is still holding out hope that the 14-year-old, who is autistic and nonverbal, will be found alive. He went missing Oct. 4 from the Center Boulevard School in the Long Island City section of Queens. Although Avonte was supposed to have constant supervision at school, that was not the case when he ran off. Also, security measures were not in place at the school that might have prevented his disappearance, according to Capital New York.
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Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, bravely told WABC, “My son is alive.”
Avonte family attorney David Perecman, who filed a notice of claim against the city and school district in connection with Avonte’s disappearance, slammed Kelly’s remarks.
"I'm going to ask the commissioner not to make statements like that," Perecman told the New York City ABC affiliate. "The family had no idea it was coming and they were really hurt when the statement was made."
The NYPD has searched subway stations and train yards in their effort to find Avonte, who has a fascination with trains. Volunteers are continuing the search, and Avonte’s father, Daniel Oquendo Sr., pleaded to those involved not to give up.
“We’re going to continue our search,” he said.