TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Relatives of David Phan wept at a candlelight vigil for the teen Friday and said despite the teen’s constant torment from bullies, they don’t blame students.
Don Phan, David’s older brother cried out, “Why?” He stood in front of David’s picture, candles and flowers on the pedestrian where the teen shot himself Thursday near Bennion Junior High School.
“He loved everyone unconditionally,” Don Phan said. “I guess it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to stop the bullying.”
David’s cousin, Sue Lake, said she knew the teen had been bullied for several years.
She said she took the concerns to the school principal. She claims the principal talked to the students causing torment.
She described incidents where students would steal David’s gym clothes or send him mean messages on Valentine’s Day.
“I know kids would follow him home and call him names,” Lake said. “I told him ‘You just have to ignore it’.”
The Granite School District said David had reported being bullied several years ago, but not recently. They said David was facing significant personal challenges.
“It was like pretty much every day he got teased for something you shouldn’t even be teased for,” McKenzi Bridge, a student, said.
She said David always stood up for her when she was bullied. She wishes she could have helped him.
“He was like loving and happy,” she said. “It breaks my heart to know that people can hurt somebody so bad.”
David’s smile and happiness will be missed by many, especially his family who said all he wanted was friends.
“It hurts to know that his family is hurting worse than I am,” Bridge added. “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”