New York (CNN) — New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly says he is not holding the school safety officer who was on duty when a 14-year-old autistic teen walked out of his Queens high school on October 4 responsible for the boy’s disappearance.
When Avonte Oquendo approached the front door of his school the day he disappeared, the safety agent told him to go back upstairs, Kelly said Wednesday. He said surveillance video then showed Avonte turning and going down another hallway, and exiting the building from a side door.
The NYPD has increased search efforts for Avonte by distributing an audio recording of the boy’s mother telling him he is safe and he should walk toward the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles that are combing the streets for him, said Keith Brooks, director of operations for CityWide Disaster Services.
“Avonte, this is your mother. You are safe. Walk towards the lights,” the message repeats. On Wednesday, the NYPD distributed it to search agencies, including the nonprofit CityWide Disaster Services, Brooks said.
The hope is that Avonte will hear the sound of his mother’s voice and approach the emergency vehicles.
The teenager, who is unable to communicate verbally, is fascinated by trains, his family said, and officials have shifted their search underground, a spokesman for the New York Police Department told CNN on Sunday.