FOLSOM, Calif. — A northern California community is morning the death of a 12-year-old boy who was bullied in school, KTXL reported.
Friends said Ronin Shimizu was made fun of because he was a member of a youth cheerleading squad.
“Bullying him because of cheerleading, it’s not right. It’s what he loves to do and that’s a human right to do that,” one friend, 11, told FOX 40 News.
The community held a vigil to remember the boy earlier this week.
“We’re just very sad about the situation. We have a lot of fond memories of him, you know,” 17-year-old Jake Tennant told FOX 40.
For Tennant and many others in the crowd, those memories came from crew. Ronin joined the Upper Natoma Rowing Club this year.
“Anytime I talked to him it really brightened my day and made me feel better,” fellow crew member Erik Allen said.
Hunter Reed, 13, befriended Ronin in Folsom Middle School’s drama club.
“He was always so passionate, like he didn’t care what a lot of people said. He just kept going on with life. He was always so happy, like the happiest person I’ve ever met,” Reed said.
It seems that Ronin may have worn that joy and confidence like mask. It’s believed he took his own life because of taunts thrown at him from a few bullies at Folsom Middle School.
He left there last year because of the teasing and enrolled in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District’s home-school program.
“In 6th grade when he left to go home-school…saw him in the locker room. He just looked so happy to leave the schools. He knew he didn’t want to be bullied again,” Reed told FOX 40.
Ronin’s parents didn’t want to speak about the situation.
Folsom Cordova Unified School District officials said they are investigating.
“Well, we were aware of allegations of bullying. I can’t speak to specific allegations, but like all allegations we investigate them fully,” district spokesman Dan Thigpen told the station.
Those who loved Ronin can only hope bullies everywhere learn not to hurt before it’s too late for someone else.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.