The death of New Tampa resident Noah Kushner, 16, the teen who went missing on November 14, has been ruled a suicide by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office after he was found lifeless the near the University of South Florida (USF) just one day after he was reported missing by his parents, Beatrice and Bruce Kushner.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Kushner was found between a basketball court and a vacant apartment complex formerly known as Fontana Hall at 13605 E. Fletcher Ave., at 7 a.m. on November 15.
After his parents filed a missing persons report, Kushner went to the 13-floor empty apartment building, which is currently closed for renovations, and tragically ended his life, said a HCSO report. According to HCSO public information officer Larry McKinnon, the construction site for the apartment building is fenced off; however it could easily be scaled over. Once Kushner entered the property, he walked up the steps of the emergency staircase on the northeast side of the building before leaping to his death; it is unknown which floor he jumped.
Kushner was last seen alive riding his silver-and-blue Gary Fisher road bike on the 18000 block of Cozumel Dr. near his parents’ home on Martinque Isle Dr. in Cory Lake Isles. Noah was a junior at C. Leon King High, where he attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. His peers described him as a funny, bright, and sociable student who you could easily point out in a crowd with his wild curly hair, thick glasses and a toolbox in his hand that he carried with him daily.
On the day of his death, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) sent out the Crisis Intervention Team, a group of specially trained psychologists, social workers and health nurses, to the school to help students cope with the loss. Team members provide short-term assistance to schools when school administrators request it. The team is dispatched to public schools for crises, which may include events such as the death of a student or staff member, natural disasters and other traumatic events that impact the school community.
Many students at King High also have been grieving through social networking websites like Tumblr and Facebook, said HCPS spokesperson Linda Cobb.
“Noah Kushner was King’s sunshine,” one student wrote on her blog. “He was the kind of kid that wore capes to celebrate holidays no one even knew existed. He was the kid that held the door open for everyone in the hallway because he didn’t want to close it on someone. Noah was a quirky, sweet, smart boy that no one really understood, but everyone laughed along with.”
More than one student mentioned that Kushner suffered from seizures as well as depressions.
Kushner’s body was found just eight hours after a clerk at the BP gas station at 2230 E. Fletcher Ave. found the body of Huayvez Gomez-Mejia, 25, of Tampa, who was reportedly robbed for $8 and a cell phone.
According to HCSO, Brandon Dewayne Jones, 27, confronted Gomez-Mejia at the gas station and punched him in the side of the head with his fist before robbing him. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy and ruled Gomez-Mejia’s death was due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Jones was arrested around 10:30 p.m. on November 15, at 13618 N 22nd St. which he has listed as his home. He is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail, without bail, on first degree murder and robbery charges.