Hundreds from across New York City gathered Saturday to support the family of Avonte Oquendo as they mourned the death of the autistic teen at his funeral.
The ceremony was held at the Church of Saint Joseph in Manhattan. Avonte's parents and brothers sat in a pew next to a white casket that held the 14-year-old's remains. His mother wept quietly throughout the ceremony, according to the New York Daily News.
Volunteers who had participated in searching for Avonte also filled the seats of the church to pay their respects. A funeral home paid for the funeral and a family-only wake.
Actress Holly Robinson Peete, the mother of an autistic child, was one of the mourners at the funeral. “Long day of mourning for a bright, beautiful young soul. I didn't know you, Avonte, but you could have been my son," she wrote in an Instagram post. "May your sweet soul rest eternally free and unencumbered by earthly ills. Headed to NYC to celebrate the life of another angel,” she continued.
On Sunday, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer proposed legislation called "Avonte's Law," that states the government would pay $10 million for GPS tracking devices for autistic children. The device could be worn on the wrist, kept in a wallet or sewn into clothing, according to the Associated Press.
Avonte's body parts were discovered in the East River in Queens, New York, on Jan. 16. This was a sad ending to a more than three-month search for the teen, who walked out of his high school on Oct. 4. The cause of his death is still being determined.
David Perecman, the family’s lawyer, has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city alleging that school personnel failed to monitor Avonte and did not act urgently in contacting police after he walked out.
BET National News - Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege.
(Photo: Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)