The family of a missing 14-year-old mute autistic boy is intensifying their search for him after a false alarm Tuesday when police initially reported they'd found him.
Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving Center Boulevard School in Long Island City at around 12:45 p.m. Friday. Surveillance video showed him running from the school, and his family has been pleading for help finding him.
Police had said Tuesday that Oquendo had been found after someone called police and reported seeing him in East Harlem. About 20 minutes later, police said they had been mistaken, that the child was not him.
"There was someone who fit the description, and I believe he might have been autistic and non-verbal as well," said the boy's brother, Daniel Oquendo Jr. "I don't know what the odds are that they found someone also like that, and looks like him."
Now the family is focusing their search underground, particularly in Queens where most of the tips have been originating.
"He does ride the trains from here to get to school. Always with someone, but that's how he gets to and from school," said Oquendo Jr., who flew in from Orlando Tuesday to organize the latest search.
"He cannot communicate at all. He can't tell someone if he is hungry, if he is lost. He can't say his name," he said.
In addition to the subways, the family is searching empty warehouses and diners.
A statewide alert remains in effect for Oquendo. Police have also released an updated photo of the boy, below.
"If you knew him, you'd know we're out here, and we'll be out here as long as we have to be, until he's found," said Oquendo Jr.