Vigils Held Across Country for Nex Benedict, Nonbinary Okla. Student Who Died a Day After School Fight

The 16-year-old died earlier this month, one day after a fight at school

<p>J Pat Carter/Getty</p> People attend a candlelight vigil for 16-year-old nonbinary student Nex Benedict on February 24, 2024 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

J Pat Carter/Getty

People attend a candlelight vigil for 16-year-old nonbinary student Nex Benedict on February 24, 2024 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Multiple vigils have been held to remember Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teenager who died one day after a physical altercation with a group of other students at their Owasso, Okla., high school.

NBC News reported that a vigil was held Sunday in the 16-year-old’s hometown, while CBS News reported that more than a dozen vigils were scheduled around the country this past weekend.

Dozens of people gathered at a church in McAlester, Okla., on Friday to remember the high school sophomore, who used they/them pronouns, according to CBS. That was one day before another group gathered on the Boston Common park in Massachusetts on Saturday to hold another vigil.

“They were always someone who was never afraid to be who they are,” said Ally, a friend and classmate of Nex's who spoke to NBC. “It was like wherever they went, you were going to accept them, and if you didn’t, that was your problem, and they were going to make it your problem."

Tyler Wrynn, one of Nex's former teachers, also spoke to the outlet at Sunday’s vigil.

“Nex was a fiery kid,” Wrynn said, adding that Nex "would light up a room and jump to defend any of [their] friends if they were getting picked on.”

Police body camera footage obtained by ABC News shows Nex in the hospital explaining to police what happened inside the school bathroom where the altercation occurred. Nex told an officer they threw water on a group of girls who were bullying them, leading to a physical altercation in which Nex said they "blacked out."

The Owasso Police Department later announced that Nex's death a day later was "not a result of trauma," basing the assessment off “preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office.”

Related: Police Say Nonbinary Okla. Student 'Did Not Die as a Result of Trauma,' Family Says Teen Was Attacked by Group

<p>Go Fund Me</p> Nex Benedict

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Nex Benedict

Following the announcement by police, Nex's family shared a statement through their lawyer to News on 6 in which they allege the teenager was assaulted by a group of other students.

"On February 7th, 2024, the Benedict Family sent their child, Nex Benedict, to Owasso High School, trusting, like any parent or family member should be able to, that it was a safe environment for their loved one. Millions of parents across America make the same decision each and every morning. While at Owasso High School, Nex was attacked and assaulted in a bathroom by a group of other students," the statement reads, in part.

"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 statement adds, in part, per the outlet.

The family urged officials involved in the case to conduct a fair investigation. The family is also investigating the case themselves.

"Notwithstanding, the family is independently interviewing witnesses and collecting all available evidence," the family said, per News on 6. "The Benedict Family calls on all school, local, state and national officials to join forces to determine why this happened, to hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again."

"The family graciously accepts and appreciates the outpouring of support, thoughts and prayers from across the nation for the loss of their child. In the coming weeks and months they request that their privacy be respected and that they be allowed to grieve and deal with their new reality---a life without Nex," the family added.

Police previously said detectives were interviewing school staff and students regarding the incident and will turn over the investigation to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

Owasso Public Schools said in a statement last week that there has been an increase in “speculation and misinformation surrounding the case.”

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School officials said students were in the bathroom for “less than two minutes” before the altercation was broken up by other students who were in the restroom at the time, as well as a staff member who was supervising outside of the bathroom.

Once the altercation was broken up, all involved students walked to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office, according to school officials. District administrators then took statements from the students present in the restroom and contacted their parents, or guardians.

According to school officials, each of the involved students were assessed by a nurse, and it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination.

“We understand that for many, additional questions remain, however these are the facts that we are able to communicate at this juncture,” school officials said in their statement. “We will continue to cooperate fully with the Owasso Police Department’s investigation.”

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