EXCLUSIVE: Bullied 13-year-old commits suicide
By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA – 13-year-old Devin Brown loved mixed martial arts fighting and had dreams of going to culinary school.
But Devin's dreams were shattered after his father says he became the victim of cruel bullying.
The eighth grader moved to Columbus to live with his dad, RayBrown, six months ago and started school at Rothschild Middle School.
Brown says the bullying started in November.
“He came home one time and had some peanut butter pies he had made for school. When he walked through the door he had some pie left and he had it all over him. Someone had jumped on him and smeared it all over him. But he never wanted to talk about that. We talked to the school, they said we haven't heard anything about it and just let it go,” Brown says.
But an incident at school last week was the final straw for Devin. Brown says Devin saw a girl at school with a butcher knife threatening to stab a teacher. He told his teacher and the girl was taken into custody.
“He said everyone is calling me a snitch and he said there's about 15-20 people who want to jump on me,” Brown says.
That night, Devin's stepmother realized Devin wasn't in his bed and called his older sister.
“She was still walking through the house and I hear 'oh my god Ray, Ray help me I can't get him down he hung himself,”' Cara Downs, Devin's sister, says.
Devin was inside his closet with a belt around his neck.
“I could see the black and blue around his neck and I tried to find a pulse, but couldn't find it,” Brown says.
Devin did not leave a note, but Brown says his son confided in friends earlier that day. “He told them but the kids didn't think he meant anything that they thought he just blowing off steam.”
At Devin's funeral Wednesday, friends placed notes inside a box carved with the word hero–for potentially saving a teacher's life.
“I made this for him because he is my hero. He did the right thing and he knew he did the right thing,” Brown says.
Brown's mission now: to make the bullying stop. “I am going to do whatever I can in his name to stop it. There is no reason a kid should be scared to go to school,” he says.
Brown says his son is not the only child being bullied at school and teachers and students confirm fighting is a problem.
NBC 38 filed an open records request with the Columbus Police Department to find out how many times officers have responded to the school. We found out, in the past six months, officers have responded 15 times to various incidents including simple battery and simple assault.
NBC 38 spoke to Rothchild's principal, Reginald Williamson, but he declined to comment. The Muscogee County School District also had no comment.
“He [Williamson] basically said no teacher's life was in danger, but the guidance counselor says a lot of the teachers are very proud of Devin because he did save that teacher's life,” Brown says.
The Brown Family has set up a memorial fund in Devin's name at the Wells Fargo on Milgen Road. They say they want to start up a foundation to fight back against bullying.