Arlington, TX – The family of the gunman who opened fire at Timberview High School on Wednesday said 18-year-old Timothy George Simpkins was carrying a gun because he had been bullied and robbed twice on campus and the school knew about it.
Police said Simpkins opened fire in a second floor classroom shortly after 9 a.m. on Oct. 6 following a physical altercation with another student.
Four people were injured, including a 15-year-old student who remains in critical condition at Medical City Arlington.
A male teacher who was shot was in good condition, and another teen girl was treated for a graze wound and released. The fourth victim had fallen during the incident and was treated at the scene.
Simpkins fled the high school and a manhunt involving numerous law enforcement agencies ensued across the area.
Schools went into lockdown as authorities tried to apprehend the shooter.
Simpkins turned himself in at an Arlington police station late on Wednesday afternoon, accompanied by his attorney, KTVT reported.
Shortly after that, the Simpkins family faced reporters in front of their home and explained that the 18 year old was carrying a gun because he had a history of being bullied at Timberview High School.
Carol Harrison Lafayette, acting as spokeswoman for the family, said Simpkins had also been robbed twice at the high school, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Harrison Lafayette pointed to the video of the fight that precipitated the shooting which was posted to social media by another student shortly after the incident.
In the video, one student was clearly being violently beaten by a bigger classmate while a teacher screamed for help in the background.
Harrison Lafayette said the video showed Simpkins was being attacked when he pulled out the .45-caliber handgun to defend himself.
“This is a situation where Timothy was being bullied,” Harrison Lafayette told reporters. “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,” she continued. “That was not right. But he was trying to protect himself. And so we hope that the police department does the investigation properly.”
Harrison Lafayette said there would also “be independent investigations that are going to be done as well so we can get to the bottom of really what happened,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
She said the boy had been targeted by bullies because he was from a more affluent family and drove a nice car.
Harrison Lafayette described Simpkins as an “outgoing, loving person,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
“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.”
Simpkins has been charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, KTVT reported.
Thus far, neither the Mansfield Independent School District (ISD) nor police department have confirmed the family’s claims that he had an ongoing bullying problem at the school, KDFW reported.
“You know, that’s something that hopefully we’ll find out during our investigation,” Arlington Police Chief Kevin Kolbye told reporters.
Asst. Chief Kolbye said detectives would investigate allegations of bullying and Simpkins’ school history, as well as talk to teachers, other students, and his family, according to KDFW.
“But I just want to stress that, you know, we don’t accept bullying and it’s the responsibility of the teachers to deal with some of those things in the Mansfield school district,” he said. “But even if you’re bullied, there are other options besides carrying a gun into a school and using a gun in a situation like that. That’s just not acceptable today.”
The assistant police chief said he thought that Mansfield ISD needed to re-evaluate its security protocols, KDFW reported.