Students coping after classmate lights self on fire

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – A local high school is trying to cope with the tragic death of one of its students Friday.

Aaron Williams, the 16-year-old student who was badly burned on the campus of Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts died Thursday.

North Charleston police say he intended to hurt himself by dousing his clothes with an accelerant.

Now Williams' family, friends and classmates try to cope with the tragedy.

Friday, the students are planning to wear red in memory of Williams. They also plan to put flowers down on Williams' parking spot.

One classmate actually saw Williams on fire and tried to save him. She's not looking forward to going to class Friday.

"(Friday) is going to be a bad day, a very bad day because I have him in all of my classes," said classmate Donaija Smith. "It's like you sit next to him and you're sitting next to an empty seat and to know that person will never come back to sit with you or laugh with you or talk to you."

Smith, a junior at Academic Magnet High School says the whole school has been shaken up by the death of Williams.

"Academic Magnet is one big family," Smith said. "When one hurts, we all hurt, when one grieves, we all grieve. You go through the day and let each other know that we're all here for each other."

Smith says Williams wasn't a popular guy, but he was well known.

"The unique thing about him is he walked around with a boom box like an 80's boom box and he'd have it on his shoulder and play like various types of music and blast it when we change classes and you'd just look at him like oh my god and laugh and smile," Smith said.

Since Williams' death, many students have changed their Facebook profile picture to his profile picture with the words "a boom box can change the world."

"Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy.  On behalf of the entire Charleston County School District, I offer my deepest condolences to the Williams family.  Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers," said Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

McGinley also said there will be continued support for students, teachers and staff at Academic Magnet and the School of the Arts. The two schools share a campus.

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