Kerens eighth grader attended Eustace ISD 2007-08
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KERENS–The family of a dead Kerens Middle School student has one message to faculty, staff and students at Kerens ISD – “Stop the bullying. Don’t let this happen to another child.”
Tuesday, John Reed (JR), 14, pressed a .22-caliber rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger. His grandmother, Linda Reed, sent JR’s big sister outside to find out what was keeping him. “We heard the screaming,” Linda said. “I performed CPR. There was so much blood. I did everything I could to save my grandson.”
Earlier that day, JR was pulled into the principal’s office, where he confessed to writing a terroristic message on the mirror and wall of one of the boys bathrooms.
“He did something stupid, but he manned up about it,” Linda told The Kerens Tribune, “He said, yes, he did it.” The message read: In three days there will be a shooting. You’ve been warned, she said.
The bullying had persisted over the past six years, Linda said. JR didn’t talk about it much with his mother or grandmother, but had several “deep conversations” about bullying with his dad, who lives in Fort Worth. Linda claimed that JR’s dad called the school several times about the problem. And his mother and grandmother told JR to report the incidents to the school.
“They (JR and his father) told several people over the years,” Linda reported. “It would stop for a day and go right back.”
Elizabeth Reed said, she was glad that her son had a close relationship with his dad. “He spent spring break with his dad and he gave his life to Christ,” she said.
The day of her son’s death, she posted to FOX 4 NEWS: “Why can’t there be more done in small towns against bullying? Why does a family have to bury their son of 14 years because HE was bullied to the point of taking HIS own life? WHY DID I LOSE MY SON TODAY BECAUSE THE F—G SCHOOL DID NOTHING TO STOP THE TORMENT?
She also posted a short message on the Kerens ISD Facebook page. While acknowledging recent postings on Facebook about the death, Kerens ISD Superintendent Kevin Stanford said Wednesday he had no comment. “I am aware of the concerns of the public about the welfare of our students. It is a very difficult situation,” he said.
At around 11 a.m. just two hours before JR ended his life, the school gave him a three-day suspension, “while they figured out what to do TO him, not FOR him,” Linda told The Kerens Tribune.
His mother brought JR home from school. Shortly after arriving to a residence outside the city, she told him to take all his electronics outside to a storage building, as a consequence of his suspension.
“He was gone too long,” Linda noted, “that’s when I sent Cerise out to get him. I knew he must feel lost.”
His sister, Cerise, graduated from Kerens ISD last year and turned 20, Wednesday. She attends welding classes at a nearby college.
JR started attending Kerens ISD in kindergarten and has been there ever since, except for one year, when his mother moved her and her children to Eustace for a year in 2007-08, when he attended Eustace ISD. They returned to Kerens after a motor vehicle accident in 2008. “It was just like he had never left (Kerens),” his mother said of their return.
Keren ISD posted a message on the district website Tuesday from Stanford: “I am very sad to inform you that we recently learned that an eighth grade student passed away at his home this afternoon. … Our focus now is to meet the needs of our students on campus. We are enlisting the assistance of area counselors and ministers to help our students to deal with this difficult situation. Be assured that we will continue through this process to make sure all students needs are being met.”
Counselors from Region 12 as well as the Bi-County Co-op were at the school Wednesday to offer help to any student who needed to talk, he said. “Student well-being is our top priority.”
Stanford also noted that faculty and staff were “pulling together at this time.”
Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner verified that his officers were investigating the incident as a suicide.
Eubank Funeral Home in Mabank is overseeing the funeral arrangements, Elizabeth said.
JR loved playing football, his sisters (including two younger half sisters) and ducks, she said.