The family of an 18-year-old student accused of firing shots in a North Texas classroom on Wednesday says he had been bullied and robbed at Timberview High School and brought a handgun to protect himself.
Four people were injured in the incident, including a student and a teacher who were shot, a student who was grazed by a bullet, and a woman who fell, authorities said.
Timothy Simpkins fled the Mansfield ISD school after the shooting but later turned himself in to police, authorities said. He faces three charges of aggravated assault.
A woman acting as spokesperson for the family, Carol Harrison Lafayette, talked to reporters while standing with other relatives outside Simpkins’ home in Arlington on Wednesday evening. She said Simpkins had been bullied and robbed twice at school.
“This is a situation where Timothy was being bullied,” Harrison Lafayette said. “It had been reported to the principals right along with the teachers. I’m not trying to justify the gun that was brought, but when you’re being bullied, when there’s bullies, throughout this nation you hear of young people … committing suicide.
“The decision he made, taking the gun, we’re not justifying that,” Harrison Lafayette continued. “That was not right. But he was trying to protect himself. And so we hope that the police department does the investigation properly. There are going to be independent investigations that are going to be done as well so we can get to the bottom of really what happened.”
Asked what she would like to say to the victims’ families, she said, “We ask as a family for forgiveness of any type of hurt.”
Arlington police said Simpkins was involved in a fight before he pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and open fired in a classroom. Video circulating on social media that was shared by other students appears to show the fight.
Harrison Lafayette said the video shows Simpkins was being attacked. She said he was targeted by bullies for wearing nice clothes and driving a nice car and having things some other teenagers didn’t have. She described Simpkins as an “outgoing, loving person.”
“He’s been around his grandmother, his loving mother, they taught him to love, and he was a giver … mostly well liked up until the point where he got into his senior year. … He was looking forward to graduating and doing something with his life.”
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