The NYPD said Wednesday that it is continuing an intensive search in the Long Island City area for Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old autistic boy who has not been seen since he left school almost two weeks ago.
Police officials have deployed ground, air and harbor units in an effort to blanket areas near the East River, not far from the school where the boy was last seen on surveillance video running out of a side exit at school.
"There is no sign of him," said one law enforcement official who didn't want to be named.
Avonte was seen on Oct. 4 leaving the Center Boulevard School on 51st Avenue, police officials have said. The 5-foot-3, 125-pound youngster, who was wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers, cannot communicate verbally.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday that a school safety agent -- who is technically an NYPD employee -- stopped Avonte at the main door and told him to go back upstairs on the day he disappeared. But the youngster didn't comply and instead exited the building through a side door out of view of the agent, Kelly said, adding he believed the security guard didn't do anything wrong.
David Perecman, the attorney for the Oquendo family, said Wednesday that the NYPD was doing a "tremendous" job in the search for Avonte but that Kelly's remarks don't address some key concerns.
"I don't thing they answer all the questions of how this child walked out the door," Perecman said.
Avonte's family has filed a notice of claim, which is a prelude to a possible lawsuit, against the city, the Board of Education and the NYPD, Perecman added.
Since Avonte is said to have a fascination for subways and trains, his photograph has been displayed in and around subway stations. Missing persons poster have also been displayed around the Long Island City area.