A 14-year-old Halifax boy who committed suicide earlier this week was being tormented by a gang of bullies who demanded that he give them as much as $80 a day or face a beating, several schoolmates and adults who knew the boy say.
Emmet Fralick, a popular and outgoing student, shot himself while in his bedroom on April 8, leaving a suicide note saying he loved his parents but he could not continue to take the bullying. The note included a poem, said a man who asked not to be identified.
People who knew Emmet tell a disturbing story of extortion and brutality.
They say a gang of teenagers led by a young girl demanded he pay them as much as $80 a day. The gang allegedly beat Emmet as recently as a month ago when he couldn't come up with the money.
The sources, all of whom would speak to The Globe and Mail only if guaranteed anonymity, said Emmet was bullied by the teenagers, who frequently extorted money from students at nearby malls and St. Agnes Junior High School.
Individual teens who didn't come up with the required sums would be threatened with a beating unless they stole merchandise from nearby stores.
The few people willing to talk about the boy's suicide fear reprisals if they speak openly about the role they believe the gang played in his death.
Many of the classmates of the easy-going, quiet Grade 9 student at St. Agnes school in west-end Halifax attended a memorial service for him last night. He is to be buried in Pictou County today.
Emmet lived in a public-housing development in west Halifax known as "the pubs." It has a reputation as a tough neighbourhood where police are frequently called to deal with fights and rowdiness.
His suicide has created a rift in the community of tightly bunched duplexes and townhouses as his friends talk about avenging his death and other youths are openly accused of tormenting him.
"The atmosphere is tense. Teenagers are hanging out in groups and planning their next move," an area resident said. "A kid's been killed because he was bullied. This has got to stop."
Halifax Regional Police are investigating the stories that the boy was harassed by a girl before his death. Police will not discuss the suicide note or the allegations raised by Emmet's schoolmates.
The boy's family have requested privacy as they mourn but have indicated they will speak publicly next week.
A former St. Agnes student who would speak only if her identity was concealed said she frequently had to give a gang leader money to avoid being beaten.
"They [the bullies]followed me around the mall and kicked me. They harassed me in the hall a lot," she said. " I didn't like going to the washrooms for a while because I was afraid of being beat up . . . one girl threatened to break my face."
The girl's mother said she complained to principal Charles O'Handley and to police but decided against pressing charges because she hoped the school would take steps to halt the harassment. She insisted that nothing was done.
Mr. O'Handley said yesterday that he was not aware that Emmet had been bullied.