Shaniqua Hawkins said her family moved from New York to Florida because her son could no longer endure repeated attacks by bullies, who teased him relentlessly about his size, according to Orlando's WESH 2.
Last week Lamar Hawkins III, 14, had had enough. The Greenwood Lakes Middle School student took his father's gun to school and shot himself in the bathroom, the report says. Deputies found his body after the family searched for four hours. The gun had been properly stored at home, the report says.
Lamar had a growth disorder that left him small for his age, which made him a target for bullies, who pushed him downstairs, knocked him out of his chair and mocked him at lunch, the mother said at a news conference last week.
The family called him Shaq, the nickname for retired NBA player Shaquille O'Neal, because of his big personality.
"I felt paralyzed by the inability to make the bullying stop at school. I watched him walk out the door of our home and knew there was a very good chance others would be cruel to him," Hawkins said.
Now she is joining forces with another parent who lost her daughter to bullying to push for the passage of "Rebecca's Law," which would allow for stricter punishment for bullies, the report says.
Seminole County Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin released the following statement:
This is a very tragic circumstance and our hearts and prayers remain with the family during this difficult time. We are aware the family held a press conference this morning and allegations of bullying were discussed. The School Board has a comprehensive bullying policy that is fully enforced in all of our schools. We must remind everyone that this is an ongoing law enforcement investigation and Seminole County Public Schools has cooperated fully from the beginning as the Seminole County Sheriff's Office works diligently to gather the facts surrounding this tragedy. The school district remains firmly committed to assisting the family, our students, faculty and staff with support as they continue to grieve and heal. Additional counselors are in place at the school and will remain for as long as necessary.
Read more at WESH 2.