Grieving dad of 12-year-old fatally attacked at school blames son’s classmates

Grieving dad of 12-year-old fatally attacked at school blames son’s classmates

A distraught dad whose 12-year-old son died after being attacked at school over what may have been a $1 dare was overcome with grief Saturday — and blamed the boy’s classmates.

“They beat my son in the school. They kill him,” Romain Vilsaint, 59, sobbed, speaking in Creole as a neighbor translated. “Oh God, I lost my son, I lost my son.”

Romy Vilsaint was barely conscious at the family’s Flatbush home Friday and was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died. The NYPD is investigating.

A police source said there was no initial indication of criminality.

The medical examiner said Saturday that the cause and manner of Romy’s death were “pending further studies, but there is no trauma.”

For Romy’s father, an immigrant from Haiti, the death had an extra layer of tragedy. His older son died in a motorcycle accident in Haiti in 2018.

Romain Vilsaint, father of Romy Vilsaint was distraught over losing his son.
Romain Vilsaint, father of Romy Vilsaint, is distraught over losing his son.
Kevin C. Downs

“He is my only son, only one,” he said of Romy, who had three older sisters — two in the US and one in Haiti — and younger twin sisters who live in Haiti with their mom.

Vilsaint said Romy’s mother told him, “Send my son back (to) Haiti,” so he could be buried there.

“I can’t speak anymore,” the grief-stricken dad said, patting his chest and going to his bedroom.

Romy moved to the US in 2017. He was a fifth-grader at PS 361, The Nostrand School.

Romy Vilsaint 12, on April 3, 2021.
Romy Vilsaint 12, on April 3, 2021. He was a fifth-grader at PS 361, The Nostrand School.
HANDOUT PHOTO/Roodwiny Exantus

His family said the boy complained of a headache Wednesday, but didn’t tell them until later he was jumped by two kids. They don’t know where or what sparked the incident.

He went to school Thursday, where he was hit in the head by a kid allegedly paid a buck by a classmate. He spent the day in the nurse’s office complaining of a terrible headache.

Vilsaint played the voicemail his son left him from the nurse’s office:

“Hello, Daddy,” Romy said in English. He continued in Creole, telling his dad he had “a huge headache” and that there was a guy who “hit me real hard” in the back of his head.

Romain Vilsaint
Romain Vilsaint’s other son died in a motorcycle accident in Haiti in 2018.
Kevin C. Downs

Roodwiny Exantus, Romy’s cousin, said there was no provocation for the attack Thursday, which Romy reported to the school. Romy recounted that a teacher asked the boy why he hit Romy and he responded that he was paid $1 to slug him, Exantus said.

Romy was vomiting Thursday night, felt too sick to attend school Friday and by 1 p.m., his condition worsened, Exantus said.

Romy Vilsaint died after losing consciousness at his home in Flatbush.
Romy Vilsaint died after losing consciousness at his home in Flatbush.
Kevin C. Downs

“Then when I called the ambulance, when they came, he was talking. He was asking for water. He was like, ‘I’m begging you, give me some water,’” Exantus recalled. “That was his last moment, all he was saying was ‘water.’ That was his last word.”

Exantus said he wished the school took Romy to the hospital after he went to the nurse’s office.

The Department of Education said it was referring the situation to an “independent body” for investigation.

“This is a horrible tragedy and our thoughts are with the family during this incredibly difficult time. The safety of our young people is our absolute priority and this incident will be thoroughly investigated, and we are providing supports to both the family and school community,” said DOE spokesman Nathaniel Styer.

Osnel Gerson, 51, a nurse’s aide who lives downstairs from the family, said Romy was quiet and polite.

“I feel so bad. They beat him up at school. That’s wrong,” she said. “I think about what could he have done to them? I can’t think of anything. I have never seen this boy fighting with anyone.”

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