Speaking to WABC Channel 7 Thursday, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he is not sure Avonte Oquendo (pictured) will be found alive.
“Unfortunately, we are not hopeful that we’re going to find this young man alive, but we are continuing our search,” he said. However, Kelly urged people to continue sending in any information they have on the case.
Watch Kelly speak about Oquendo here:
Oquendo was last seen on October 4th running from Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. Administrators said they didn’t have passwords to access live security camera feeds. Surveillance footage uncovered later on showed Oquendo leaving the building, with no supervisors or monitors attempting to stop him.
Three hours after he went missing, NYPD bloodhounds traced his scent to a marshy area near his school before losing his trail. They then picked it up again at a nearby subway station.
The MTA temporarily shut down power at area stations on the 7 line, in case he’d walked into the tunnels. As another precaution, all 468 stations in the NYCT system have been searched as well. Transit officials also shut down overnight maintenance a weekend after Oquendo went missing. Some stations have played announcements about Oquendo over their PA systems.
The NYPD also dispatched six divers into nearby water with sonar (according to a CNN source, Oquendo was fascinated by water).
Even Old Navy has gotten involved in the search. The clothing company has provided the NYPD and federal agents with a shirt matching the one Oquendo was last seen wearing. Officials will put the shirt into their database. This will allow them to scan video cameras for recognition.
The Department of Environmental Protection has also used special cameras on extended poles to search the sewer system and around Long Island City.
Given that Oquendo is autistic and cannot speak, NYPD patrol cars have been playing recordings of his mother in the streets.
“Avonte, this is your mother. You are safe. Walk toward the lights,” the message repeats. The hope is that Oquendo will hear the words and approach the vehicle playing them.
New Yorkers have done their part to spread awareness of the teen’s disappearance. Posters and flyers with his image have been seen across the city and in subway stations.
There is currently a $89,500 award for his return.
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