Vigil held in Coffee County for bullied teen who took his own life

Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-27 11:56:23-04

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (WTVF) — Friends and family gathered at a vigil to remember a Coffee County teenager who took his own life over the weekend.

Channing Smith, a student at Coffee County High School, died late Sunday night. His family says Channing took his own life after he was outed on social media.

He confided in a few that he was bisexual, but after texting with another teen, some of his classmates posted screenshots online.

Hundreds attended the vigil that was held for 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Fred Deadman Park in Manchester.

Smith's family is urging District Attorney Craig Northcott to file charges against the teens involved in the cyber bullying.

Northcott released the following statement in response to Smith's death:

"I, like the rest of the community, am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the young life of Channing Smith. I express my heartfelt condolences to his family. My office has encouraged, cooperated in and supported the investigation into the events leading to this death. Ethically, I am prohibited from commenting on an open investigation or prosecution. However, procedurally, no charging decisions have been made by my office nor has the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department asked for a decision since the investigation has not been completed. When all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision. Any report that my office has failed or refused to act is inaccurate and I wanted to clarify this for the sake of the Smith family as they do not need the added burden to the already incomprehensible pain that they are experiencing. I would ask for the everyone to extend their prayers for the family and to respect their privacy as this process moves forward."

Northcott has faced scrutiny in the past for saying that gay people aren’t entitled to domestic violence protections.

Tennessee prosecutor: Gay people not entitled to domestic violence protections