Community Reacts to Cranbrook Student's Tragic Death
Friends, school and strangers mourn the loss of a young life after the teen jumped from his downtown Birmingham high-rise.
Monday began with rain – and the end of a young life.
Police say the death of a 17-year-old junior from Cranbrook-Kingswood Upper School came after the boy threw himself off the roof of the Birmingham Place condominium complex in downtown Birmingham. The body was found by a maintenance worker at 3:30 a.m. near Woodward Avenue.
The teen was in the thoughts of many people in the Birmingham area on Monday, including his friends and those who never knew him.
“This is one of those dreadful, painful things that breaks God’s heart in the same way it breaks ours,” said Rev. John Harnish of the First United Methodist Church in Birmingham. “God does not cause or will this kind of tragedy, but God suffers with us."
Mary Blocker, a Birmingham resident, heard about the incident while she was ordering lunch at Toss-Ups, a diner located on the first floor of the Birmingham Place building. “That’s so young,” she said. “He had everything to live for.”
There was nearly immediate outpouring of support from the teen’s friends and others on Twitter:
- @yea_im_nbd: Your smile, charm, and heart brightened everyone’s day always. Today is no exception. We love you so much.
- @HaileyPhillips: Love you and miss you and my heart goes out to your family.
- @kelsxnicole: You were always an awesome friend and will be forever missed.
- @malangmellE: We’ll all miss your smile. I forgot to tell you yesterday but I’ll you now that you were awesome on stage yesterday.
- @cee_jjay: We’ll miss you and love you forever.
At Cranbrook, the news hit home hard. “This has been a terrific shock for the school,” Cranbrook Director of Communications Clayton Matthews said.
Director of Schools Arlyce M. Seibert sent a letter to parents, saying in part: “During difficult times like this, the tremendous strength of our community is more valuable than ever. I know that each of will join me in keeping the student’s family and friends in your thoughts.”
In his 31 years with the Birmingham Police Department, Cmdr. Terry Kiernan said he'd never had to deal with a suicide of this kind.
Birmingham Police determined the teen killed himself after one set of footprints was found on the building's roof, Kiernan said Monday. While the teen lived in Cranbrook dorms, his parents had purchased the condo for when they visited — the family lived in Texas. The boy was believed to be alone at the condo the night of the incident.