Mystery surrounds death of Winter Park teen

Roger Trindade, 15, was jumped by a group of teens. WESH photos

WINTER PARK, Fla. (WESH) — Family and friends are hoping the autopsy of a 15-year-old boy who died following an altercation in Winter Park Saturday night will provide some answers.

Winter Park police identified the teen Tuesday as Roger Trindade.

They said the Winter Park High School student’s death is not racially motivated or a hate crime, but there’s a lot they don’t know.

Investigators said they still don’t know how the boy died, but they did confirm a witness report that one of the juveniles involved sprayed him with something, possibly prompting the altercation.

Winter Park High School’s principal sent a message to students and families confirming the death of Trindade, who moved to Central Florida from Brazil a year ago. “He’s one of those people … you can’t describe him. Why would anyone do that to him?” said classmate Ashley Julian.

Saturday night, police said a group of juveniles, some of whom go to Winter Park High School, sprayed Trindade in the face.

When police found Trindade, they said he was unconscious and showed no obvious signs of trauma. Four days later, they still don’t know the cause of death. And until they do, no arrests are anticipated. “This was not gang-related, racially motivated or a hate crime,” said Winter Park Chief of Police Michael Deal.

Winter Park’s mayor, Steve Leary, thanked people on behalf of the boy’s family and called the incident isolated. “We feel it does not provide further safety concerns for residents, businesses or guests,” Leary said.

But Sheila Heath, who works across Park Avenue near the memorial, said it makes her a little afraid to know this happened so close by. “It does. It really brings it home,” Heath said.

The medical examiner’s office said they have not yet performed an autopsy. The police chief said that will determine whether charges are filed and arrests are made.

At a news conference Tuesday, Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary released the following statement from Trindade’s family:

“The Trindade family is very thankful for all of the extended community’s thoughts and prayers. The family has requested privacy at this time to mourn the loss of their son.”

Friends said Trindade moved to Central Florida from Brazil a year ago.

“(He was an) incredible boy, he was so so sweet, so gentle, so kind,” friend and Winter Park High School classmate Parker Sawyer said.

Sawyer said Trindade was a friend to everyone he met — at first, reserved, but always warm and jovial.

“When you met him, you just wanted to care about him,” Sawyer said. “He was just very attentive. Everything you said, everything you mentioned, he just wanted to know about because he was very curious. Obviously, because he didn’t know a lot about the culture, because he just moved here. So he was very interested in anything I had to say or that my friend had to say because any information anyone was willing to give, he wanted to learn about.”

Those who knew him well say the loss of Trindade is a loss of incredible potential.

“He was a genuinely really kind, sweet person. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. He would never cause anybody any harm. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Sawyer said. “He was excited about the life he was building here. He had so much potential, and it’s just really tragic this happened to him. He’s the last person that you would expect anybody to try to harm.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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