TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – A 14-year-old boy in Utah died yesterday after he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head in front of his classmates.
David Phan was a ninth-grader at Bennion Junior High where he was reportedly enduring bullying. His friends say he was nice to everyone but that it didn’t stop other students from constantly picking on him. After a meeting in the principal’s office yesterday, he left the school with his mother at around 1:30 pm. The school has not released what the meeting was about, but reports are that he was searched for weapons before being allowed to leave.
A couple hours later he returned to a pedestrian bridge near the school and encountered other students he knew who had just gotten out of school. There was a short conversation before David pulled out a handgun he had retrieved from a locked safe at his home, and then shot himself in the head. He was still alive when emergency personnel arrived, but he would die a short while later in the hospital.
There haven’t been any official reports in regards to motive, but Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley stated that the teen faced “‘significant personal challenges on multiple fronts.” The school district posted on their Facebook page that ever since a bullying concern a couple years ago, David had been in regular contact with counselors to ensure he was doing ok. They did say David reached out to counselors 18 months ago regarding a personal issue, but it did not have to do with bullying, and that at no time did David mention being bullied.
But as is usually the case, his classmates tell a different story. One of his classmates said that while David was nice to everyone, not everyone was nice to him. “I heard it, people (talking about him),” she said. “I hated when people [bullied him]. I felt so bad for him,” said another. A crossing guard told reporters that there were times David would run to a crosswalk alone and ask to cross quickly because he said he was being bullied by someone. His cousin made a statement explaining David had been bullied for years and often came home crying. He said David first tried ignoring it, then started fighting back which would get him into trouble at school.
School officials say they are not ruling out bullying as one of the reasons for David killing himself at school, just that they were not aware of it and will investigate every incident they are alerted to. They also stressed the importance of reporting any form of bullying and encourage students to report any such incidents through a district safety hotline at 801-481-7199 or use an anonymous text service at 801-664-2929.Tags: Bullying, Crime, David Phan, school, Shooting, Suicide, Utah