‘Deeply tragic’: Boy who fell from high-rise mourned at Kansas City elementary school

Kansas City Public Schools shared a message of mourning this week to families with students who attended elementary school alongside 5-year-old Grayson O’Connor, whose death Monday is being investigated by police as a potential homicide or a possible instance of child neglect.

O’Connor was found dead in an alleyway behind the Grand Boulevard Lofts high-rise apartment building at 1006 Grand Boulevard. Police say they have confirmed the boy’s body fell from a window, but the manner in which he died remains under investigation.

In a letter addressed to families and shared with The Star, Principal Jaqueline Tanner of Primitivo Garcia Elementary School said the death marked a “deeply tragic event that has impacted our Garcia Elementary family.”

“Words cannot adequately express the profound sadness we all feel as we come to terms with this devastating loss,” Tanner wrote in the letter. “The passing of a young life is an indescribable tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the student’s family and loved ones during this incredibly challenging time.”

O’Connor was kindergarten age. The school’s calendar shows Garcia Elementary students were set to return from Thanksgiving break on Monday, the day the 5-year-old died.

Around 11:30 a.m, Kansas City police officers were dispatched to Grayson’s apartment building on a medical call. He was found in the alley near a row of dumpsters with apparent head trauma and pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives and police officers went inside the apartment after noticing an open window on the 17th floor, where Grayson lived with his mother, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant Monday.

Inside the apartment, police found the boy’s mother on the ground underneath an open window, the affidavit says.

She was asked where her son was, and, according to the affidavit, uttered a reply: “Out the window.” She was taken to a hospital for an unspecified reason and has not been seen by neighbors since.

Police are investigating whether the mother had any involvement with her son’s death.

No criminal charges had been filed as of Thursday. The Star is not naming the mother as she has not been charged with a crime.

Neighbors who spoke to The Star this week said they had concerns Grayson was being neglected and possibly abused, at least verbally. Neighbors provided food to the boy and mother, saw Grayson wandering alone on occasions and frequently overheard loud screams and cries coming from the apartment.

Neighbors said several calls were made to social services about his welfare. The Star has requested records from the Missouri Department of Social Services.

In the wake of the boy’s death, Tanner, the school principal, said KCPS would provide support to students, faculty and staff dealing with the emotional toll. Examples included available counselors and other support staff.