Ronin Shimizu, 12, who was severely bullied for being the sole male cheerleader at his middle school, committed suicide on Wednesday. Shimizu was a student at Folsom Middle School in Folsom, California, but he recently withdrew to be homeschooled.
Prior to this tragedy, Shimizu’s parents complained to the Folsom Cordova School District several times about the bullying their son was enduring. School officials said they followed protocol after these complaints, but Shimizu’s friends said that failed to stop the relentless taunting.
“Any allegations bullying related to this specific incident, we’re certainly reviewing how we responded to those and we’ll use that as an opportunity to always take a look at how we respond to future allegations,” said Daniel Thigpen with the Folsom Cordova School District.
Shimizu was frequently called “gay” for being the only male on the Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team. Still, Shimizu loved being a part of the team.
“I didn’t see why people would tease him because he was so nice,” a fellow cheerleader told CBS Sacramento.
Ronin was also a member of the Upper Natoma Rowing Club and active in Folsom Middle School’s Drama Club.
“Any time I talked to him, it really brightened my day and made me feel better,” fellow rowing crew member Erik Allen said to Fox40.
“He was always so passionate, like he didn’t care what a lot of people said,” said Hunter Reed, 13, who met Ronin through the drama club. "He just kept going on with life. He was always so happy, like the happiest person I’ve ever met."
Dozens of Ronin’s friends and community members gathered for a candlelight vigil around the Shimizu home on Thursday.
“Hopefully, if anything, in a positive way, it will educate people,” said Josh Meixner, a family friend. "Bullying … it can’t happen, especially with social media nowadays."