FBI investigating threats against Oklahoma school after death of Nex Benedict, police say

The FBI is investigating at least one threat against an Owasso school staffer in response to the death of Nex Benedict, authorities said.

The suburban Tulsa school district has received a flood of criticism over its handling of a Feb. 7 altercation at Owasso High. Nex was injured in the incident and died the next day.

The 16-year-old’s death has drawn international attention and scrutiny over the steps schools take to protect students whose gender identities do not align with societal stereotypes.

Nex used the pronouns they/them and he/him.

More: Search warrant filed in Nex Benedict death: Investigators ask to search school records

A news story that went viral about their death included allegations that teachers failed to summon medical care for Nex after the altercation, and that Nex was so badly injured in the fight that they could not walk on their own.

Police and school officials have said both claims are untrue. A search warrant obtained by The Oklahoman says Nex had a headache after the altercation, and school employees suggested they be taken to a local hospital to be checked out.

Nex was released, but died the next day. Their exact cause of death has not been disclosed, but police said Wednesday that an autopsy showed they did not die from trauma sustained in the fight.

More: Family, friends of Nex Benedict remember Owasso teen: 'We are incredibly sad'

Police said they are investigating threats directed toward Owasso school employees in response to the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old student who died earlier this month.
Police said they are investigating threats directed toward Owasso school employees in response to the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old student who died earlier this month.

Threats against Owasso schools picked up Tuesday as millions of people learned about Nex’s death on social media and other online forums, said Lt. Nick Boatman, a spokesman for Owasso Police.

One message included a specific threat of violence against a specific individual, Boatman said. He declined to name the person or disclose any other details about the content of the message.

He said police brought in the other agencies on a statewide task force, including the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, to track down who made that threat and others.

The FBI has deemed at least one threat credible and is taking the lead on investigating it, Boatman said.

A spokesperson for the federal agency has not responded to a message left regarding the status of the investigation.

Margaret Coates, the superintendent of Owasso schools, confirmed the threats in emails sent to parents Wednesday and Thursday. She said every school campus will have increased security, but otherwise operate as usual. She said officials are cooperating with investigators looking into the threats.

School officials have declined to say much about the altercation or any discipline that resulted from it, citing privacy laws.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Nex's family asked people to stop making any threats of violence against school employees and students. They also called on authorities to take action in Nex's case and to address bullying in schools.

"The Benedicts know all too well the devastating effects of bullying and school violence and pray for meaningful change wherein bullying is taken seriously and no family has to deal with another preventable tragedy," the family said.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Threats against Nex Benedict's school prompt FBI investigation