At 20, school board election winner ‘had the whole world in front of him’

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 6:05 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 2:44 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The 20-year-old youngest member-elect of the Richmond County Board of Education has died by suicide, according to authorities.

Tyrique Robinson – who had high hopes and an optimistic outlook for local schools – died Tuesday afternoon, according to authorities.

The Richmond County Coroner’s Office was called at 4:10 p.m. to investigate the death at 1040 Alexander Drive.

The Cross Creek High School alum was unopposed in running for the District 6 board seat. The election was just last week, and he hadn’t been sworn in yet.

Unfortunately, before he could even take office, controversy began to swirl. On Friday, Melissa Oden told our I-TEAM she discovered thousands of dollars of unauthorized charges made by Robinson on her credit card Thursday night, including a charge for his political billboard.

She spoke with us previously about nursing homes during the pandemic.

She had taken Robinson under her wing and invested more than $200,000 into a business for Robinson. She also supported his campaign for the District 6 seat.

Oden had not gone to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office to file a report at the time she talked to our I-TEAM because the office was closed for Veterans Day. She said she would meet with investigators once she returned from an out-of-town trip.

The same day Oden found the charges on her credit card, Robinson called the Richmond County Board of Elections. Board of Elections Executive Director Travis Doss told us Robinson asked about resigning from office. Doss told him to call the school board attorney. An hour later, he says, Robinson called him back to say he did not want to resign anymore.

On Monday, Robinson told local radio talk show host Austin Rhodes saying he was being falsely accused.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Mr. Tyrique Robinson. His willingness to serve on the Board of Education and support our children is a testament to his interest in building a better community for us all. Our sincere thoughts and condolences are with Mr. Robinson’s family, friends and all whose lives he touched,” said the Richmond County School System and Board of Education in a statement.

District Attorney Jared Williams says he “had the whole world in front of him.”

“Tonight my heart is heavy with the news of his loss,” Williams tweeted. “Please pray for his family, pray for our leaders, and pray for our community.”

News 12 doesn’t normally report suicides of private individuals in homes, but we felt this was important for the public to know since he was going to be a public official.

We waited to report it until the coroner assured us the family had been notified.

With his youthful outlook, Robinson had high hopes for bringing change to the Richmond County School System.

“How do we know how to help our young people when we’re not getting input from our young people?” he said in an interview with News 12 a few weeks ago.

“What we want to do is we want to do a better job at making sure those programs and those trainings are there for our parents and our students, as well as our staff, to be more engaged with them,” he said. “I would encourage every organization, every mentor group, let’s partner with the Richmond County School Board so we can get it more engaged.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or harming yourself, please try to talk to someone about it. The universal suicide crisis hotline number is 988. It has trained counselors available 24 hours a day. Or text START to 741-741.