TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Levon Holton-Teamer sent her 15-year-old to clean her room Sunday afternoon, not knowing that would be the last time she would see her alive. Minutes later, the mom went to look for her daughter, Tovonna.
“I go to the bathroom; I couldn’t get in the bathroom. The bathroom light was off so I tried to get in and I looked down and I saw the puddle of blood. I tried to apply the pressure, the pressure to her head. I tried to save her,” Holton-Teamer said Wednesday.
Tovonna was a freshman at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel. The teen had taken the gun from her mother’s purse. Just hours before Tovonna has expressed concern over a nude picture her friends had taken of her without her permission.
“Tovonna would say, ‘Mommy, I owe them; I owe them’. I said, ‘What do you mean you owe them?’ I couldn’t understand what was wrong,” Holton-Teamer said.
Hours after Tovonna’s death, the girl’s aunt took to Facebook in search of answers.
“I just said, ‘If anybody knows anything, what happened? Have you heard of anything? Do you know who these kids are who have the pictures?’ I thought it was just pictures and then the kids started inboxing me,” said Angel Scott, Tovonna’s aunt. Scott learned it was actually a nude video of the girl, taken while she was in the shower.
“Everybody was out there talking about her and calling her names and they said it went up on social media, Snapchat. I’d never heard of that before about 3 something that afternoon,” she said.
Tovonna was dead three hours later.
The Pasco County School District heard the bullying complaints and turned the investigation over to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives continue to investigate. The school provided a crisis team for students Monday and Tuesday of this week.
Tovonna’s picture had been shared thousands of times on social media with the #stopbullying. The teen’s family is now calling for justice.
“I want them to pay, to feel what we feeling, even if their child is convicted or in trouble they can go visit their child,” Scott said.
Psychiatrist says internet makes bullying hurt more
By Peter Bernard
News Channel 8 talked with a psychiatrist who has seen four to five young people in similar situations. He has not dealt with a teenager committing suicide but said bullying hurts even more now because of the internet and video.
“Teenagers are very nasty to each other because they’re so nervous and so forth,” Dr. Walter Afield said. “When they bully, well you can yell, you can shout, you can shoot back but when it comes on the internet so quickly and so instantly and all around. It gets very aggressive.”
Dr. Afield said it’s hard to provide parents with a list of signs to look out for.
It “happens very quickly with teenagers. And you don’t see it. You gotta know your kid. You gotta know who’s sending what,” the psychiatrist said.