FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — A 12-year-old boy who complained of head pain died in Brooklyn on Friday, leaving his family devastated and sparking an investigation by the NYPD.
Police responded to an apartment building on Cortelyou Road in Flatbush around 5:20 p.m. after someone called 911, authorities said.
The child, identified by family members as Romy Vilsaint, was conscious and complained of pain in his head but had no obvious signs of trauma, police said. He died at a hospital.
The city medical examiner will determine Romy’s cause of death.
Police called his death suspicious. No arrests had been made, as of Saturday evening.
Romy’s family said he was the victim of bullying at school. Roodwiny Exantus, a cousin of the victim, told PIX11 News that his family is devastated.
“He was fun to be around. He was so smart,” Exantus said.
Romy was a fifth grader at PS 361. Exantus said Romy was attacked twice in two days — jumped by two kids at school on Wednesday and then hit in the head on Thursday by an attacker who, he said, was paid a dollar by a third student.
“He told me after he got punched in the head, he reported it to the teacher or the principal, I’m not sure which, and the teacher asked the kid, who said he got paid a dollar from this kid to do that,” Exantus said.
Exantus also said Romy spent part of Thursday in the school nurse’s office and then stayed home sick on Friday in their East Flatbush apartment. The family called for an ambulance after Romy started vomiting on Friday afternoon.
“I can’t say too much I can’t put no blame on no one,” Exantus said. “I wish when he was in the nursing room, they had called the hospital but I can’t blame nobody.”
A spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education said Saturday afternoon that the agency would investigate what happened.
“This is a horrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family during this incredibly difficult time,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “The safety of our young people is our absolute priority and this incident will be thoroughly investigated and we are providing supports to both the family and school community.”
Romy was born in Haiti and moved to Brooklyn in 2017 to live with his father, two sisters, and his cousin’s family. His mother and three other sisters live in Haiti.
“Words can’t describe how she feels right now,” Exantus said of Romy’s mother. “She asked to speak to her son this morning or one last time. We had to tell her … I was speechless.”
As funeral arrangements were made, the family hoped Romy’s mother would be able to fly to Brooklyn for his burial.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).