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A forensics team investigated the scene of Garret Phillips' death Tuesday morning.
A forensics team investigated the scene of Garret Phillips' death Tuesday morning.

With little new information, police, others, work to stifle rumors about Garrett Phillips' death

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Potsdam Police had little new information on Garrett Phillips' death at a press conference Wednesday morning...and Chief Ed Tischler was at pains not to provide information that would fuel speculation.

Tischler went over the facts: Police were called to the apartment where Phillips lived with his mother on Monday evening at about 5:00, and found him unconscious. EMTs performed CPR and took Phillips to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead three hours later, at 8:08.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Tischler said his department had quote “made big strides” in the investigation and that it was continuing, and urged anyone with information to contact the police.

Phillips’ body was autopsied Tuesday in Albany—but Tischler said his department doesn’t yet have the report. He said until they do, they can’t say what happened:

"Pending the results of the autopsy I’m not going to comment on that…I’m hoping to have those in the next day or two."

Tishler didn’t say much more about the investigation—but answering reporters’ questions he said Phillips’ mother isn’t under police protection; that police haven’t been called to that apartment in the past; and that he couldn’t comment on whether Phillips had a history of serious health problems.

Questions about how Phillips died have been particularly urgent in the face of rumors his death was the result of violence.

Phillips was a student at AA Kingston Middle School.  Mary Jones is a grief counselor with Hospice of St. Lawrence County. She was at the school all day Tuesday…and says teachers and administrators were in frequent contact with the police and giving students as much real information as possible about the investigation.

Jones says that information is vital—because rumors can make a bad situation worse:  

"It scares them could this happen to me, they’re much more focused on what happened what do we do about this, instead of saying wow, a friend has died, how am I going to remember him, what am I going to do to get through this, how am I going to learn to live without my friend next to me every day in basketball. We’ll iron it out in the end how, but right now we have to deal with the fact, oh my gosh, somebody died! And when you’re in school you don’t think one of your own is going to die."

Jones says anyone—child or adult—who’s having difficulties dealing with Phillips’ death should contact Hospice of St. Lawrence County.

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