RCMP officers are sifting through 115 tips about the night 14-year-old Carson Crimeni died after onlookers shot video and made fun of him while he was in the throes of an overdose. But any potential charges are a long way off, say investigators.
Corporal Holly Largy says police in Langley, B.C., need time to work through the evidence. The case has been the focus of intense media coverage, with some social-media posts purporting to name three of the young men involved, including one who is accused of having provided drugs to the boy, allegedly MDMA – a party drug also known as ecstasy.
Police say Carson died of a suspected overdose. An autopsy concluded last week showed the boy was in perfect health; his family is expecting a toxicology report before the end of the month.
In pictures and videos shot and posted to social media over several hours on Aug. 7, young men can be seen and heard laughing at and catcalling Carson, who is red-faced and sweating profusely. The boy appears alternately frightened and confused.
“To get to the point where there is potential for charges will take some time,” said Cpl. Largy, who added that 10 officers are working on the file.
The story has generated vitriol on social media, but Cpl. Largy cautioned against any retaliation.
“This has already been tragic enough. Just let this take its course; let us do our job. Nothing is going to be served by any kind of retaliation – more people are just going to get in trouble,” she said.
Staff at Walnut Grove Secondary School, where Carson had finished Grade 8, are working with a parent group to discuss support services for students as they begin the new school year in September, said Joanne Abshire, a spokeswoman for the Langley School District.
“There will be ongoing conversations … about things like substance-abuse prevention, respectful behaviour, even social-media etiquette,” she said.
“We do this anyway, but we want to ensure that we have this proper education not just for the Walnut Grove community, but for the whole school district. This is something that has impacted the whole community and we want to ensure that everyone is being educated about it.”
The school held a meeting for students and their families last week, bringing in counselling staff and providing information to parents on how to talk to children about substance use and traumatic events.
Ms. Abshire said she could not comment on reports that Carson had been bullied at school or what might happen to any students who are found to have been present during his overdose event.
“I will say that the district is co-operating with police in their investigation,” she said.
Carson’s funeral will be held Aug 29. His father, Aron Crimeni, says it is open to the public. “Anyone who wants to come is invited to attend.”
Carson, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was impulsive and had trouble sitting still, and he was bullied for it, peers say. A group of six friends from an older grade, who met Carson online playing video games, tried to look out for him.
“Seeing what he was going through, we stuck by him,” one of them told The Globe and Mail. The Globe is keeping their names confidential because of their age and the sensitivity of the matter. “If we saw people picking on Carson, we’d stick up for him. We tried to make the best of a bad situation.”
Carson’s friends say he had a quirky, dry sense of humour. “We thought he was hilarious. He’d do anything to make people laugh," said one, recalling how Carson loved to creep up behind him on his tip toes and jump on his back, screaming. “He had a good heart. But he didn’t always understand the repercussions of what he was doing.”
Mitchell Pederson, who found Carson just before 10 p.m. on Aug. 7, unconscious, stone cold and barely breathing, believes his death will be a wake-up call to youth in the community who are using drugs.
The 15-year-old knows six people who have died from overdoses in recent years, he told The Globe in an an interview conducted with his mother’s consent. He is vehemently anti-drug, all the more so since finding Carson on the sprawling grounds of the Walnut Grove Community Centre.
He is haunted by the scene. He tries to go skateboarding and get out of the house as much as he can, and “do something –anything” to get the image out of his mind.