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Witnesses, middle school students look in disbelief at body hanging from tree; police confirm suicide

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- A young metro man hangs himself from a tree, and minutes later a bus full of Raytown students drives by and sees the body. The bus had more than a dozen Raytown middle schoolers on it, and other students were waiting to board the bus when they noticed a young man hanging on a tree branch.

"I woke up walked out, saw this guy hanging from the tree. Kind of thought it was fake," Mickey Kowalski said.

Kowalski thought it was a doll hanging from this tree outside of his apartment and went to work. He then got a phone call from neighbors, telling him it was a lifeless young man.

"Traumatized. Seriously traumatized," Kowalski said.

Police swarmed the field and covered the body with a sheet. Soon after, neighbors started to worry, as a school bus wasn't only minutes down the road en route to school.

"The first thing I did is that I got out of the car and asked the police, I told them that there was a bus coming in about 20 to 30 minutes, is there anything you can do to wrap this up?" witness Aaron Walker said.

Police told worried neighbors there was nothing they could do. The coroner then arrived to the scene and removed the blanket, fully exposing the body.

"You could see a lifeless body hanging," Walker said.

"Not even 10 minutes later a school bus pulls up right there 10 feet away," Kowalski said.

Middle school students on the bus and nearby parents watched in disbelief. The bus sat for several minutes as it waited for neighborhood kids to board.

"Some parents were pretty upset around here about it, they felt like it could've been handled a little bit better," Walker said.

Detectives say this was an active crime scene, in a residential neighborhood. They say they did all they could to cover the body.

"There's just a body hanging there, I can't even imagine what they're going to go through. I'm 40 years old, and I'm having a rough time right now."

Witnesses and parents know police were just trying to do their jobs, but now they're terrified this image will be with their children forever.

"All those kids on that bus lost their innocence."

The Raytown School District says the victim was not a Raytown student. FOX 4 wanted to find out more about the victim and his life, but police couldn't comment on his identity.

The district sent home a letter with parents and says if students need help, give them a call.