The family of an Arlington, Texas, teenager suspected of injuring four people in a school shooting said he had been bullied and was recently robbed.
The suspect, Timothy George Simpkins, 18, was arrested Wednesday on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities said Simpkins, who is accused of opening fire at Timberview High School, turned himself in to police following an hourslong manhunt after he fled the school. Simpkins was released Thursday after his family posted a $75,000 bond.
A 15-year-old boy was critically injured in the shooting and underwent surgery, and a 25-year-old man was hospitalized in good condition. Their conditions were not clear Thursday afternoon.
A teenage girl who suffered minor injuries was treated and released. A pregnant woman was treated at the school and was not taken to a hospital.
Arlington police confirmed two of the victims as Zacchaeus Selby and Calvin Pettitt.
Suspect in Texas high school shooting released on bondOct. 7, 202101:18
Police said the shooting may have begun with a classroom fight, which was caught on video. They did not reveal a possible motive.
A witness told investigators that Simpkins had gotten into a physical altercation with another boy, according to an arrest affidavit. The witness broke up the fight, and the second boy "ultimately gave up and stopped being combative," it says.
"When the witness turned around to check on Simpkins, Simpkins had produced a firearm," according to the affidavit. "Upon seeing the firearm, this witness turned to run out of the classroom. The witness then heard three to four gunshots."
A second witness said that several teachers and coaches intervened and that after the fight was broken up, Simpkins went into an orange backpack and pulled out a firearm. The witness told authorities that she saw Simpkins point the weapon at the person he had been fighting with and fire several shots.
Another witness said they also saw the fight and was struck by a bullet, suffering a graze wound.
Cinthy Wheat, Simpkins' cousin, said he had been bullied and was robbed about a week ago by a group of kids. She said that the robbery did not occur on school property but that Timberview was aware of the bullying.
"He's not a bad kid. He's never been in trouble," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "He was being bullied and was robbed."
Wheat said Simpkins was in his first year at Timberview. She said that he had always gone to private school and that he transferred to the public high school because he wanted to try something different. She said she thinks Simpkins was "scared."
"He didn't have any other options, in his mind. ... It's a sad situation," she said. "Bullying needs to stop. You can't keep sweeping this under the rug."
At a news conference Wednesday, Simpkins' family said kids would take his money and harass him.
"The decision he made taking the gun, we're not justifying that. That was not right," a relative, Carol Harrison-Lafayette, said at the news conference, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported. "But he was trying to protect himself."
The family of Selby said the 15-year-old was shot four times; once in the chest, stomach, arm, and leg. He's currently in the ICU in a medically induced coma and is scheduled to undergo two surgeries on Friday, NBC Dallas-Forth Worth reported.
"His [Simpkins] family is trying to make it sound like he’s the victim. He [Selby] is the victim," she told the news station. "The victim is laying in the hospital trauma unit."
Timberview is in the Mansfield Independent School District. Hope Boyd, a district spokeswoman, said officials could not discuss specific cases involving students. She said any report of bullying is "thoroughly investigated and goes through the proper processes in order to assess and determine the appropriate consequence."
"A thorough investigation into yesterday's incident is still ongoing, so specific details cannot be addressed at this time," Boyd said. "What we can say is that the safety and security of our students and staff — both physically and social-emotionally — has always been and will remain our No. 1 priority."
Police said the video of the fight, as well as the allegations of bullying, is a part of their investigation.
Calls to authorities about the shooting came in around 9:15 a.m., prompting a lockdown of the school. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded, including Arlington police and the Dallas division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A woman said her son hid underneath his desk in a classroom when shots rang out. Teacher Dale Topham, who said he was across the hall, described how students immediately turned off the lights and comforted one another as they took cover.
"The students handled it pretty well themselves," he said. "They hid. They huddled together."
The high school, about 27 miles southwest of downtown Dallas, does not have metal detectors. A district spokesperson said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that law enforcement officers are on every campus and that the officer at Timberview responded "pretty swift."