Police are investigating after an 11-year-old schoolgirl in South Carolina, US, killed herself with a rifle.
Toni Rivers took her life after allegedly being fed up with the bullying she was subjected to at her school. The sixth grader had apparently told five of her friends that she "couldn't take it anymore" and was going to take her life, The Daily Mail reported.
Tony's family said she killed herself on Wednesday (1 November) after being bullied at her Hampton County School District 1 elementary school. "We go out to Toni's home in the country thinking that there'd been an accident, you know? And when we get there, we find out that it wasn't an accident, and it was the result of Toni not being able to handle it anymore," Maria Peterson, Tony's aunt, said.
Toni's 14-year-old sister called emergency services following the shooting. The child was immediately shifted to a hospital by helicopter, where she succumbed 72 hours later, WTOC reported.
According to the girl's family, they had been in contact with her school about the bullying for about two months. Amy Thomas, Tony's mother, said she had made four calls to her daughter's school two days before the incident.
"Obviously, we're devastated beyond any type of words, and we're angry. We're angry at a school system that failed that little girl, failed this family, and failed this community," Peterson said.
One parent claimed that incidents of bullying in the school were ongoing for a year, but authorities had taken minimal action.
The school has released a statement, which made no comments on Tony's death or allegations of bullying. "It is with heavy hearts that the Hampton One family mourns the loss of one of our students. Our sympathy and prayers go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy.
"Counselors have been made available and will continue to be available to offer any needed support. Student matters are confidential and we believe it would be inappropriate to comment further on this tragic incident," the statement read.
As part of the investigation, six families with their children have reportedly come forward to be interviewed and agreed to have their children questioned by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
"My baby's gone, but everyone's got confidence now, you know, they can stand up to her," Amy said, adding they are holding a candlelight vigil in her remembrance on Sunday evening.