The father of one of the children killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was found dead of an apparent suicide on Monday morning at his office in Newtown, Conn., police said.
Jeremy Richman, 49, was the father of Avielle Richman, one of 20 children, all six or seven years old, killed along with six adult staff members by a man with a semi-automatic rifle at the school in Newtown. It stands as one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Richman’s body was found shortly after 7 a.m. ET at his office, police said.
“The death appears to be a suicide, but police will not disclose the method or any other details of the death, only to state the death does not to appear to be suspicious,” the Newtown Police Department said in a statement. Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner’s office is expected to confirm the cause of death later on Monday, police said.
News of Richman’s death came as the community of Parkland, Fla., was focusing attention on its suicide prevention programs after two survivors of the 2018 Florida high school massacre killed themselves in a week.
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said Monday that community leaders, government officials, parents, police and others held an emergency meeting Sunday after a second Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student apparently killed himself over the weekend. That came a week after a recent graduate, who was close friends with victim Meadow Pollack, killed herself. Her family said she suffered from survivor’s guilt.
Foundation to fund mental health research
After his daughter’s murder, Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, created a foundation in her name that focuses on preventing violence by funding research on mental health and increasing access to treatment.
Richman, who was a neuropharmacologist, had written in a mission statement published on the Avielle Foundation’s website that his daughter’s death had left him “infinitely heart broken.”
Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse Lewis, also was killed at the school, said the Sandy Hook families’ grief has been compounded by the publicity and conspiracy theories surrounding the tragedy. He noted Richman was among the Sandy Hook relatives suing Infowars host Alex Jones for saying the Newtown shooting never happened.
“Every day you get up you expect to get punched in the chin with something,” Heslin said. “I give Jeremy credit for what he accomplished with his work and his amazing strength that grew through the years.”
U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes, who represents a congressional district that includes Newtown, said in a statement she was struck by how “optimistic” Richman had seemed about his foundation’s work at a recent meeting.
“These tragedies show that the trauma of gun violence extends far beyond the initial tragedy,” her statement said.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut called Richman a “good friend, a dedicated father, an esteemed researcher.”
This story originally appeared on CBC