LONG ISLAND CITY — A photo that emerged online of a young man riding the subway who closely resembles Avonte Oquendo is not that of the missing autistic teenager, the NYPD has confirmed.
Police said they have identified the subject in the photo — which shows a young man sitting on a subway car, staring straight ahead — after his mother saw the picture and contacted the NYPD, a spokeswoman said.
The photo was snapped by an unidentified 13-year-old straphanger who spotted the look-alike on an E or F train near West 4th Street in Manhattan Tuesday and then posted it to his Facebook page, according to Tony Herbert, an activist with the National Action Network, which has been assisting in the search for Avonte.
"Him and a couple of friends happened to come across this individual on the train and asked him if he was Avonte," Herbert said, of the teen who took the photo. "He said once he asked the kid that, the kid just gave him a blank stare."
With the photo lead ruled out, the search continues for 14-year-old Avonte, who went missing after leaving his high school in Long Island City on Oct. 4.
Police have been tracking hundreds of tips in the case, but there have been no confirmed sightings of Avonte, who is autistic and cannot communicate verbally.
He was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. 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.