What we know about death of Oklahoma teen Nex Benedict after beating in school bathroom

A police investigation is underway in Oklahoma after a 16-year-old student died after an altercation earlier this month at Owasso High School.

The news of the high school sophomore's death has generated widespread attention, in part because of claims that school employees failed to immediately act after the fight.

The teen was identified by family in an update to their verified GoFundMe post as Nex Benedict. Benedict's official cause of death has not yet been disclosed by the state medical examiner.

Owasso student Nex Benedict
Owasso student Nex Benedict

"We at this time are thankful for the ongoing support and did not expect the love from everyone," the update credited to Sue Benedict says. "We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents we were still learning the correct forms. Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject."

More: Family identifies Nex Benedict as 'gender-expansive' Oklahoma teen who died after bathroom beating

"Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them. I lost my child, the headstone will have correct name of their choice. The rest of monies will go to other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are, in Nex Benedict’s name. God bless."

The family held a funeral service for Nex on Feb. 15. Authorities have disclosed some information in an attempt to dispel rumors circulating online, but many questions remain unanswered.

Here's what we know so far about the death of Nex Benedict:

What has the Owasso Police Department said?

According to the Owasso Police Department, officers were called to Bailey Medical Center at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 by the parent of a 16-year-old student from Owasso High School.

When officers arrived, the parent reported the student had been involved in a physical altercation at the school. No report of the fight was made to Owasso Police before the notification at the hospital. A school resource officer took a report at the hospital.

On Feb. 8, Owasso Police learned the teen had been rushed back to the hospital and was pronounced dead.

Lt. Nick Boatman, a spokesman for Owasso Police, said police are “conducting a very active and thorough investigation” while they wait for autopsy and toxicology results. Boatman said he cannot comment on any possible charges related to the case until officers receive more information.

“We do not want to make any rash conclusions about any part of the investigation or the cause of death,” he said in an email. “Unfortunately, it’s just going to take time.”

Owasso police said they plan to spend the next several days interviewing students and teachers, then turn over their findings to the Tulsa County district attorney’s office. Officers also may bring in other agencies, such as the FBI, if they determine a major crime occurred, Boatman said.

Boatman said investigators are still waiting for initial autopsy results before deciding whether to recommend charges be filed in the case. The state medical examiner’s office said its full investigation into the student’s death could take four to six months.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office based in Tulsa declined to confirm nor deny involvement in the case.

More: Police investigating death of Owasso student who died the day after school bathroom beating

What has the Owasso Public School District said?

School district officials had been tight-lipped about what happened. But in a statement issued Tuesday, spokesman Jordan Korphage pushed back against “statements that call into question the district’s commitment to student safety and security.”

Korphage said a fight happened in a school bathroom on the afternoon of Feb. 7. He said the students were in the bathroom for less than two minutes before other students and a school employee broke up the fight.

He said a nurse checked on all students and recommended one teen seek further medical attention “out of the abundance of caution.” Korphage disputed claims that the teen who later died was unable to walk immediately after the fight.

“All students involved in the altercation walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office,” he said.

He declined to say how many students were involved. He also said he could not say whether any students were disciplined afterward, citing privacy laws.

'Nex deserved to be protected'

The GoFundMe page for Nex Benedict had garnered more than $75,000 in donations as of Wednesday evening. According to the statement from Sue Benedict, the money left over after burial expenses are paid will go toward "other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are."

Condolences for the family have poured in from state officials, LGBTQ+ community advocates and others. Oklahoma House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, said she is "deeply saddened and disturbed" by the death.

"Nex deserved to be protected at school — more importantly, they deserved to be embraced for who they were and all they would become," Munson said. "While the circumstances surrounding their death have not been fully disclosed, the current details are troubling to say the least."

State Rep. Mauree Turner, who uses the pronouns they/them, said in an Instagram post of Nex's death: "This one hurt. They all really hurt. Nex deserves more — trans Oklahomans deserve more."

Freedom Oklahoma, an advocate organization for the LGBTQ+ community, said that "whether Nex died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the brutal hate-motivated attack at school or not, Nex’s death is a result of being the target of physical and emotional harm because of who Nex was."

"This harm is absolutely related to the (dehumanizing) rhetoric and policies that are commonplace at the Oklahoma Legislature, the State Department of Education, and the Governor’s office."

Oklahoma state schools superintendent Ryan Walters said he "pray(s) for God’s comfort for the family and the entire Owasso community."

“The safety and security of our students is my top priority as well as the first responsibility of Oklahoma schools," Walters said.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Nex Benedict: What we know about Oklahoma teenager's death after fight