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A memorial for Carson Crimeni has been set up in the Walnut Grove community centre in Langley, B.C., on Aug. 28, 2019.

Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

Next Tuesday should have been the first day of Grade 9 for Carson Crimeni. Instead, the 14-year-old, who died after onlookers shot video and made fun of him while he was in the throes of an apparent overdose, will be buried Thursday afternoon beside his Nonna, his beloved grandmother, in Surrey, B.C.

Carson’s father, Aron Crimeni, has opened his son’s funeral to the public, in an effort to allow a community shaken by his death to mourn together. It is planned for Langley’s Church in the Valley, a sprawling, modern Seventh-Day Adventist Church, with seating for more than 1,200 people.

“I don’t want to tell anyone who wants to come that they can’t,” said Mr. Crimeni, 45. “He can’t just be gone for nothing. Some change has to come of it. I want people to know how horrifically he was treated.”

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Carson’s aunt, Diane Crimeni, 33, says the family hopes the tragedy might one day spur a legacy of change: “There’s no point in us being angry. It will only prolong our suffering. We want Carson’s death to mean something.”

Opinion: Carson Crimeni and bullying’s dark, frightening progress

Opinion: No one stood up for Carson Crimeni – or for my daughter Reena Virk. Will you?

The search for justice in Carson Crimeni’s death: RCMP say any charges in suspected overdose will take time

The case has been the focus of intense media coverage. 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. Some social-media posts purport 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 known as ecstasy. Carson looks alternately frightened and confused.

Langley School District would not comment on reports that youth from Walnut Grove Secondary School were involved in the incident. Joanne Abshire, a spokeswoman for the district, however made it clear that the school is “co-operating with police in their investigation” into Carson’s death.

Carson, who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was impulsive and was bullied for it, his peers say.

“He wasn’t like other kids. He was different. He couldn’t sit still. He would say random things,” a friend of Carson’s told The Globe and Mail. “But he had a heart of gold,” she added. “He was a very special boy.” The Globe is keeping her name confidential because of her worries about recriminations.

People would push him in the halls, kick him and yell at him to get away, she says. “Even though people were so mean to him, he was always nice to them. He always had a smile on his face, even though he went through hell.”

In light of the tragedy, the school district will be reviewing its bullying, substance abuse and digital-citizenship policies, Ms. Abshire said.

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“Students and staff are hurting,” she said, adding that the district is bringing counsellors to the school for students on the first two days of the new school year, next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The RCMP’s “large and complex" investigation into Carson’s death is continuing, said Corporal Holly Largy with the Langley detachment.

“Nothing is going to happen quickly."

The tip line is still being monitored, she added, and "we still would like to encourage people to call with any information they feel may be helpful to investigators.”

So far, more than 40 witness statements have been taken.

Still, Carson’s friend isn’t optimistic that either the funeral or the police investigation will bring solace to the community.

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“No one will ever get closure or a sense of peace,” she said.

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