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Syracuse police say missing exchange student may be in NYC

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — A missing Egyptian foreign exchange student is believed to have boarded a bus to New York City, surveillance photos released by Syracuse police revealed.

The student, 17-year-old Mena Rezkalla, had been studying at Alexandria Central School District and was on a trip to Destiny USA mall organized by Hearts for Youth, an organization for youth in the Alexandria area. Though the group has an office inside the school, Superintendent Kyle L. Faulkner said Monday that the trip was not a school-sanctioned activity.

About 11 a.m. Saturday, after a group photograph, Mr. Rezkalla separated himself from the group, which apparently included the mother of his host family, Penny A. Kring, Syracuse police Sgt. Thomas Connellan said Monday.

Mrs. Kring founded the Hearts for Youth program in the late 1990s and currently serves as the organization’s co-president.

Mr. Rezkalla had been staying with Penny A. and Gene P. Kring at 48600 County Route 1 in Redwood, state police said. In a conversation between police and Mrs. Kring, she said Mr. Rezkalla has not returned any phone calls and did not alert the family to his destination. She told police that Mr. Rezkalla had planned a trip to New York City during his time here.

Mr. Rezkalla’s phone was “pinged” using GPS to find his location, as well as accessing recent activity on his phone, police said, but the effort was unsuccessful.

He is in the country on a student visa that will expire later this year, but police did not know exactly when.

He was last seen wearing a red and white baseball cap, blue jeans, red shoes and a black jacket.

The student was a participant in the Center for Cultural Interchange Geenheart exchange program. Calls to the organization were directed to the U.S. Department of State, though the organization said it is hopeful for his safety. The State Department did not comment on the investigation, but did say that law enforcement, the student’s family and the embassy of the home country would be contacted.

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