RITTMAN, Ohio — Another young life lost to anti-gay bullying.
Nicholas Kelo Jr. knew what it was like to be relentlessly bullied, his family said, and it may have been what persuaded him to pry open a safe inside his home on Feb. 23, and remove the gun that killed him, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.
He was 13 years old. It is unknown as to whether or not Nick was gay, but that did not stop his bullies or their attacks.
”It had been going on for years,” Jacqueline Kelo [Nick’s mother] said. ”We would talk and he would say [of the bullies] that they were not worth his time.”
Nick played football in middle school but gave up the sport this year to participate in high school band.
The switch, Jacqueline Kelo reasoned, resulted in swelling rumors. Some, she said, wrongly assumed that a kid who would prefer to play the tenor sax rather than tossing a pigskin must be gay.
“After that, it [the bullying] spiraled out of control,” she said.
One such incident allegedly happened on a school bus following a football game, explained the mother of another Rittman teenager who said her son is also a victim of bullying. During the incident, Nick allegedly became the victim of an older student who was “glicking” — forcibly spitting on him. Jacqueline Kelo knew something was bothering her son when he came home, but the eighth-grader refused to share the details — telling her that he would handle it himself. The parents became aware of it only after their son’s death.
Jacqueline Kelo said it didn’t surprise her that her son kept his pain to himself. Nick viewed himself as his mother’s protector.
“He was the man of the house,” the single mother said.
Nick’s death is being investigated as a likely suicide, according to Rittman police.
Nick recently scored 152 on an IQ test, which is classified as superior intelligence. He had a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and was an avid inventor, creating both a waffle fork to remove hot food from a toaster and an incinerator trash can. Nine of Nick’s organs were collected and donated.
News of Nick’s death comes just days after the White House held a high-visibility conference on bullying prevention, with the President and First Lady calling on parents, teachers, students, and communities to address the problem together.