Jeremy Richman, 49, of Newtown, Connecticut, was found dead by an apparent suicide Monday morning.
Richman was the father of Avielle Richman, a first-grader killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The massacre took the lives of 26 students and staff.
Edmond Town Hall is described as a movie theater and event space. Richman, the founder of the Avielle Foundation, had an office at Edmond Town Hall.
“This is a heartbreaking event for the Richman family and the Newtown Community as a whole, the police department’s prayers are with the Richman family right now, and we ask that the family be given privacy in this most difficult time,” said Lt. Aaron Bahamonde, a spokesman for the Newtown Police Department.
Police officers were called to the building around 7 a.m. local time.
“He was a brokenhearted person, as we all are,” Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed at Sandy Hook, told The Courant Monday. “It’s sad. Just no words.”
Richman’s Cause of Death Is Under Investigation, But No Foul Play Was Suspected
The State of Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the exact cause of death, police said.
“The death appears to be a suicide, but police will not disclose the method or any other details of the death, only to state the death does not to appear to be suspicious,” police said in a Facebook post.
According to The Middletown Press, police found a note at the scene, but have not said what was in it.
Richman And His Wife Started The Avielle Richman Foundation to Advance Brain Research Into Causes of Violence
Richman and his wife Jennifer Hensel began the Avielle Richman Foundation when their six-year-old daughter was murdered in the December 14, 2012 shooting.
Richman, who had a PhD, was “a neuro-pharmacologist with more than 20 years of research and drug discovery experience. While his roots are in neuroscience, his research experience has spanned the range from neuroscience to cardiovascular biology, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, immunology and inflammation, and kidney disease,” according to his bio on the foundation website.
He enjoyed rock climbing and teaching martial arts, according to the Avielle Foundation’s website.
His wife, Hensel “is a multi-disciplinary scientist having worked in a number of research fields from clinical microbiology to molecular and cellular immunology and oncology. A hobby of Ms. Hensel’s is reading about the history and public health implications of infectious diseases such as influenza, cholera, and the plague,” the foundation’s website says.
“Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend. Jeremy was a champion father, husband, neuroscientist and, for the past seven years, a crusader on a mission to help uncover the neurological underpinnings of violence through the Avielle Foundation, which he and his wife… founded after the death of their daughter, Avielle, at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” the foundation said in a statement. “Jeremy was deeply devoted to supporting research into brain abnormalities that are linked to abnormal behavior and to promoting brain health. Tragically, his death speaks to how insidious and formidable a challenge brain health can be and how critical it is for all of us to seek help for ourselves, our loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need.”
The foundation promised they would continue Richman’s work “because, as Jeremy would say, we have to.”
Richman and Hensel had two other children, born after the Sandy Hook shooting.
The two were were among the Sandy Hook families who filed a lawsuit against Infowars host Alex Jones, who long claimed on his show that the massacre was a hoax.
This Is The Third Suicide Connected To A Mass Shooting To Be Reported In The Last Week
Sydney Aiello, 19, who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and took her own life on March 17, 2019, according to her family.
A second student who survived the 2018 Parkland school shooting committed suicide within one week, Coral Springs police confirmed to the Miami Herald this weekend.
The student’s name has not been released, but police said the student was a male and a current sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a mass shooting killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
Politicians From Connecticut And Around The Country Offered Their Condolences
“There are no words to describe the tragic weight of today’s news. Jeremy Richman was a loving husband, father and friend to many. I am proud to say he was my friend,” said Newtown First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal in a statement. “I don’t want to speculate as to why Jeremy took his life, except to say none of us can fathom the enormity of loss he carried with him after the death of his beautiful daughter, Avielle.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, one of Connecticut’s senators, tweeted: “My god. This is awful, horrible, devastating news. Jeremy was a good friend and an unceasing advocate for better research into the brain’s violence triggers.”
U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, whose district includes Newtown, said she had just met with Richman about his foundation’s work.
“The news of Jeremy Richman’s death is heartbreaking. I recently met with Jeremy to learn about the Avielle Foundation, and was struck by how optimistic he was about the progress the foundation was making in understanding brain health. He spoke about how the foundation’s investments have led to broader study of brain chemistry and violence,” Hayes said in a statement.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or needs emotional support, help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.