AUSTIN, Texas – A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition after being found hanging by his shirt collar from a clothing hook in a charter school's dressing room, and police tried to determine Thursday whether it was an attack or an accident.
The shirt collar cut off the boy's oxygen, and he was unconscious when a teacher found him Wednesday, said police Lt. Mark Spangler. He was in critical condition at a hospital Thursday.
"We're not ruling anything out. We can't rule anything in at this point," Spangler said about the investigation. "Nothing is stepping out to us to say that there is some predator out there. ... We just don't know yet."
The boy had attended an assembly at the Not Your Ordinary School campus and asked to be excused to go the bathroom. He was found as the assembly was ending; there was no surveillance camera in the area.
Police said the clothing hook was low enough that the boy might have gotten himself stuck, but they don't know how he ended up on it or how long he was hanging.
Police were interviewing students and staff members at the charter school, which enrolls students in pre-kindergarten through third grade and earned the highest possible rating from the state for the last school year.
A telephone message seeking comment from school administrators was not returned. A message on the school Web site said staff members are cooperating with the investigation.
"The safety of our students is our first priority. As information regarding this incident comes to light, we will determine what, if any, campus safety issues need to be addressed," the school said.
Investigators don't have any evidence the boy had been bullied in school, but it's still possible he was attacked, Spangler said.
Whether criminal charges could result remains unclear. If another student is found to have been involved, state criminal laws don't apply to children under 10, said LaRu Woody, Travis County assistant prosecutor.