Students at Timberview High return for first time following school shooting last week

·3 min read

Timberview High School students returned back to campus Tuesday morning for the first time following an Oct. 6 school shooting that injured four people.

At the high school in Arlington, there was heightened security, including multiple police vehicles outside the building and two helicopters in the air. Teachers welcomed students back with hugs. A small group of demonstrators gathered off school grounds to protest what they called the Mansfield Independent School District’s lack of clarity regarding changes to ensure the safety of students.

“Enough is enough. We need the principal, the school district, to do a better job making sure that it is safe for our babies,” said Donnell Ballard, president of United My Justice and who organized the protest of about a dozen people.

“When you go into the federal building, what do you see? You see (metal) detector machines in those buildings. Can’t nobody get inside those federal buildings without being checked,” he said. “You should feel the same way about bringing those detector machines into the schools and spending the money to make sure our kids are safe.”

The school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the protest, but in a recorded video message Monday, Superintendent Kimberley Cantu said school officials were looking at the situation internally.

“Not just the events of Wednesday but everything leading up to the events that occurred on Wednesday at Timberview High School,” Cantu said. “In order to ensure the integrity of that investigation, with Mansfield ISD and the Arlington Police Department, we cannot share any details at this time.”

Cantu continued by explaining the district has a “safety and security expert on staff, and he’s been with us for over a year now,” and that they will look at gaps within their schools’ protocols.

“I want to be clear, we take allegations of bullying at Mansfield ISD very, very seriously,” Cantu said, referring to claims by the suspect’s family that 18-year-old Timothy Simpkins was bullied prior to the shooting.

“We don’t just want to be reactive to bullying, but be proactive as well. That’s why in 2019 we undertook the process of developing a social and emotional learning department,” Cantu said. “We’re to a point now where SEL lessons are available and pushed out twice a week to our campuses around the district, making sure that our students are knowing and learning how to interact with one another.”

Arlington police have said they’re aware of claims of bullying related to the shooting and are looking into those as well as any other factors that may have contributed as part of their investigation.

Around 9 a.m. last Wednesday, shots were fired following a fight inside a classroom, police have said. According to court documents, Simpkins pulled a gun from his backpack and opened fire. He fled the campus and after a few hours, turned himself in to police with a lawyer, Arlington police said. The 18-year-old was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and later released on $75,000 bond.

The shooting left four injured.

One student was grazed by a bullet, and a teacher was injured in a fall during the commotion, police said.

Zacchaeus Selby, a 15-year-old Timberview student who authorities said fought with Simpkins before the shooting, was shot four times, according to his family. He was in good condition at a local hospital Tuesday.

Twenty-five-year old English teacher Calvin Pettitt, who had helped break up the fight, was also hospitalized with a gunshot wound, but has since been released.

“Our babies should not have to be worried if they’re going to get killed,” Ballard said. “A baby shouldn’t have to be worried if they’re going to get jumped. I’m sick and tired of it.”

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