Silence and light attempt to fill a tragic void left in a family, and the school community in Folsom after the Wednesday suicide of 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu.
“We’re just very sad about the situation. We have a lot of fond memories of him, you know,” 17-year-old Jake Tennant said.
For Tennant and many others in this 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 said.
Ronin’s parents didn’t want to speak about the situation.
The district could only offer so much.
“Well, we were aware of allegations of bulling. I can’t speak to specific allegations but like all allegations we investigate them fully,” district spokesman Dan Thigpen told FOX40.
Friends say the reason for the bullying at Folsom Middle School was Ronin’s choice to be a cheerleader.
“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,” 11-year-old Mia Kleinbardt said.
“It’s heartbreaking, pretty shocking,” said Julie Coleman, who’s daughter Riley is a student at Folsom Middle School.
“I heard that somebody called the bullies and told them that he passed away and they were like shocked, like realized, learned their lesson on how words can hurt,” Riley said.
Those who loved Ronin can only hope bullies everywhere learn not to hurt before it’s too late for someone else.
Counselors have been made available throughout the district to help Ronin’s friends and teachers cope with his loss.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.