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Police, Family Intensifying Search for Missing Autistic Teen

 Volunteers were using kayaks to scour the shoreline while police are expanding their search.
Family and Police Continue to Search for Avonte Oquendo
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LONG ISLAND CITY — Search parties continued to scour the city on Tuesday for Avonte Oquendo, the autistic Rego Park teenager who went missing after leaving his Queens school on Oct. 4.

Police said they are expanding their search, working with Amtrak, PATH and the Long Island Railroad in the event that Avonte, who is nonverbal, may have boarded a train for outside the city.

NYPD Chief Philip Banks told reporters Tuesday it's possible the 14-year-old may have "got on a train, and got on another train, and got on another train."

"This young man has an affinity for trains, for the transit system," he said.

Banks also said the NYPD was reaching out to clothing company Old Navy to get a replica of the gray striped shirt Avonte was wearing the day he disappeared.

 Avonte Oquendo, 14, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen in Long Island City Oct. 4.
Avonte Oquendo, 14, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen in Long Island City Oct. 4.
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"Hopefully we're going to have that sometime today," he said. "That’s going to be in the hands of police officers, we're going to have them visible — this is the shirt that he was last seen wearing."

Meanwhile, family and friends have continued to man two tents set up across the street from Avonte's school in Long Island City, where they've been handing out fliers and organizing search teams.

Avonte's older brother, Danny Oquendo, said he went out on a kayak Tuesday to search the shorelines around the Pulaski Bridge.

"At this point, we've pretty much spider-webbed out everywhere in Queens," he said.

Banks said the NYPD is using every resource at the department's disposal, including helicopters, boats and scuba teams and bloodhounds from the K-9 Unit.

"We're putting all of the resources that we have available to us into this search," he said.

Police are urging anyone who thinks they've spotted Avonte to call the authorities immediately, even if they're unsure about whether it's definitely him.

"Don't be concerned, is that him or is that not him, if there's any doubt at all, keep him in your sights and give us a call," Banks said.

"We are not giving up hope that we can find this young man and deliver him home to his family."

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers, police said. He is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES), then entering TIP577.