By Robert Mills
GROTON — Hunter Perkins had been labeled a bully.
The Virginia boy, 16, a third-year student at the prestigious and private Groton School, was accused, along with two other boys, of harassing another student about his sexuality, according to his father, Walter Perkins. His father said he was told to come get Hunter immediately.
Within a week, Hunter Perkins would be dead.
Hunter’s father, Walter Perkins, of Chantilly, Va., said he drove 10 hours overnight to pick up his son Oct. 6 from the school’s infirmary.
Perkins said he was told his son would likely be expelled, and he was encouraged to have his son withdraw from school instead. Police were investigating. He took his son home.
The next five days would be hell for the Perkins family. Walter Perkins said he was angry with his son and the damage he had done to his future by allegedly joining with two other boys to create demeaning comics about another student.
He was trying to find another school for his son, and encouraged his son to leave Groton School, but Hunter wanted to fight any efforts to expel him. Walter Perkins said his son claimed many other students behaved the same way, and that he was being singled out.
But Walter Perkins said officials from the Groton School continued to contact him daily, pushing him to withdraw his son.
Finally, on the night of Oct. 11, just 10 hours after Hunter Perkins met his psychologist, the stress became too much for him.
Walter Perkins said he was in his bedroom, calling his daughter so that the family could get together to figure out what to do. (His wife died nine years ago.)
“There was the crack of a gunshot in the basement,” Walter Perkins said.
He ran downstairs and found his son bleeding profusely. He tried to perform CPR, but Hunter would soon be dead.
An alleged bully had taken his own life.
Walter Perkins said he had locked up all of his guns because he knew his son was in a fragile state, but said his son found a gun his mother had owned.
Walter Perkins blames his son’s death, at least partially, on the way Hunter was treated by school officials, whom he said were so eager to be politically correct that they never tried to teach his son a lesson.
“They knew my son was on mental-health medications, but they still had to treat us like dirt,” Walter Perkins said last night.
Earlier this month, Groton School Headmaster Richard Commons confirmed for The Sun that a student had died, but said it was school policy not to disclose information on individual students. He would not comment on whether bullying played a role in the death, but said the school has an anti-bullying policy in place.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Commons said at the time.
He could not be reached for further comment last night.
A spokesman for Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard Leone confirmed that Groton police have sent the results of an investigation into a bullying incident at the Groton School to prosecutors, who are considering whether there was any criminal conduct.
No one has identified the two students Perkins had joined in the alleged bullying.
Walter Perkins, meanwhile, isn’t sure what his next step will be. He hopes someone can learn from what happened to his son, a boy who he said was always eager to help others, and who had been picked on himself at the Groton School — when he died his hair pink in support of breast-cancer awareness.
“I just hope they change their procedure,” he said. “I’m praying something good comes out of this.”