Community honors Bluffton High student-athlete as murder investigation continues

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BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) — A vigil was held Sunday at Bluffton High School for a student shot and killed Friday night.

Friends, classmates and teammates met to honor DJ Fields Jr.

“DJ was a very good kind fair young man and he a lot of goals a lot of aspirations and he shared those with us all the time. So it’s just devastating,” said Jake Higgins.

He owns Kilwin’s, a candy and ice cream shop where 18-year-old Fields was an assistant manager.

“DJ was a personal friend of mine,” Higgins said. “His family was friends of mine. To try and replace him is impossible. So you can find someone to do the work, but you will never find someone to fill his shoes.”

Fields was one of three people inside a car driving along Bluffton Parkway around midnight when police say another car pulled up beside them and opened fire.

Fields died at the scene, and two others were taken to a local hospital for treatment. One was treated and released, the other, a 16-year-old Bluffton basketball player, is now in stable condition.

Fields was a dedicated member of the Bluffton football team, where he played defensive line and defensive tackle.

Head coach John Houpt, who had a close relationship with Fields, honored him with an emotional speech at Saturday’s vigil.

The Beaufort County School District (BCSD) is offering virtual grief counseling to students coping with the loss.

“He is just a young man who is probably one of the most honorable kids I have come across,” said BCSD Director of Student Services Lakinsha Swinton.

“What we are hearing a lot is the question why. Why did this have to happen? What are we supposed to do without him?” she said, adding, “It’s best to talk about it because what you will find in that conversation is that there are people who find the same sentiment that you do.”

Community members in need of support are asked to reach out to BCSD’s partner, Hope Performance Systems at 843-547-0200 or to schedule a time to speak with a counselor free of charge.

The anchor at the front of Hilton Head Island High School was painted green and a Bluffton High School logo was added to show their rivals from across the bridge support during the tragedy.

Higgins has set up a memorial fund for Fields’ family at Coastal States Bank.

Donations can be made to “DJ’s Memorial Fund” at any Coastal States Bank location, or at the following locations:

  • Kilwins of Bluffton – Tanger II Outlet Mall, 1414 Fording Island Rd, Bluffton, SC 29910
  • Which Wich of Bluffton – 95 Towne Drive, Bluffton, SC 29910
  • Coastal Sunset Car Wash of Bluffton – 4374 Bluffton Parkway, Bluffton, SC 29910

Checks must be made payable to DJ’s Memorial Fund. A GoFundMe site has also been created to collect funds.

After all of the expenses are paid, any additional funds will be donated “DJ’s Trade School Scholarship Fund.” Fields was about to enroll at Technical College of the LowCountry to study welding after his graduation.

“We’ve already had a lot of people ask, corporate sponsors in particular, to help because DJ had such an impact on the business and family,” said Higgins. “My current staff here will all be forged together as a family for the next 20-30 years. And we’ll be the ones who will always pick the recipients of the scholarship money in DJ’s name.”

“A tragic end is a new beginning for a lot of people who want to do the same kind of trade schooling that he wanted to do,” he added.

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