Oklahoma student dies one day after fight in high school bathroom

Officials acknowledged unresolved questions Tuesday about a 16-year-old Oklahoma student who died one day after a fight in a high school bathroom.

The Feb. 7 fight happened at the Owasso High School West Campus, northeast of Tulsa, police and school officials said.

Chuck Hoskin Jr., principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, identified the teen Tuesday as Nex Benedict.

Nex was not a citizen of the nation but lived on the Cherokee reservation, Hoskin said in a statement. He said he had asked local authorities to assist the Owasso Police Department in its investigation of Nex’s death.

“The facts relating to Nex’s death are not yet fully clear,” Hoskin said, adding: “The more we learn about Nex’s life, the more we come to know a wonderful child whose experience and identity mattered and was worth celebrating. Above all, Nex deserved to live a full life.”

“It was cut tragically short,” he said. “May Nex rest in peace.”

Nex’s mother told the Independent that the 16-year-old had been bullied at school over their gender identity. Efforts by NBC News to reach Nex’s family were unsuccessful.

It’s unclear if the alleged bullying was linked to Nex’s Feb. 8 death. The student’s cause of death has not been made public, and the Owasso Police Department said Tuesday that it was unclear if the fight was related to the death. An investigation into the matter is ongoing, the department said.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office did not provide additional details Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday, Owasso Public Schools said that “speculation and misinformation” about the case had intensified in recent days over the “district’s commitment to student safety & security.”

“We understand the importance of ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all students and know that the information below doesn’t change the facts that a fight occurred on school grounds and a student passed away the next day,” the statement said.

School district officials said the students involved in the fight were in the restroom for less than two minutes and the altercation was broken up by other students, along with a staff member who was supervising outside the bathroom.

All of the students “walked under their own power” to the nurse and assistant principal’s office after the fight, and administrators took statements and contacted their parents, according to the district.

The students were also given a health assessment by a district registered nurse, per protocol, school officials said.

“Out of an abundance of caution,” the parent of one student was advised to take their child to a medical facility for further evaluation, the district said in its statement.

Police were called to Bailey Medical Center by a parent who wanted to report that the student had been in a fight, according to the police statement. A school resource officer also responded to the hospital.

The teen was pronounced dead the next day, the police department said.

Sue Benedict, who identified herself as the student’s mother to KJRH, told the station that her child was a straight-A student who loved animals and enjoyed cooking.

The district said the death was “devastating.”

“We recognize the impact that this event has had on the entire school community, and it is our priority to foster an environment where everyone feels heard, supported, and safe,” district officials said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com