A police cruiser was torched, protesters were arrested, and at least one Georgia Tech officer was evacuated by ambulance Monday night — just two days after a student was fatally shot by campus police outside a dormitory building.
“The events of the past few days have been incredibly difficult and challenging for the entire Georgia Tech community,” G.P. “Bud” Peterson, president of the school, wrote in an open letter Tuesday that mourned Scout Schultz and blamed “outside agitators” for hijacking the student’s memorial.
The evening began with candles and eulogies in memory of Schultz, the 21-year-old leader of a campus LGBT group. Police said he was suicidal and armed with a knife when they shot them.
But Schultz’s “knife” was merely a multitool with no blade in sight, according to Schultz’s family and many want to know why a student in apparent distress had to be killed.
So while Monday’s vigil was peaceful, several dozen of the hundreds of mourners headed to the campus police headquarters afterwards.
“And then all hell broke loose,”
A witness told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
They marched under a banner that read “Protect LGBTQ,” according to CNN, and moved toward the police building chanting: “This is not okay!”
Shortly afterwards, a police SUV was seen burning. WSB-TV recorded an officer on a stretcher with an apparent head injury. CNN showed people screaming in the street as an officer chased and wrestled a man to the ground.
Two officers suffered minor injuries Monday night, according to Georgia Tech. Three people were arrested — all charged with inciting a riot and assaulting an officer.
And for the second time in 48 hours, students were told to seek shelter from violence.
Scout Schultz had left three suicide notes in a dorm room, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and phoned police on Saturday night to report an armed person stalking the campus.
According to the state bureau, the student reported: “a man with long blond hair and a knife, possibly intoxicated, possibly wearing a gun on his hip, in a white T-shirt and jeans”.
In other words, someone who looked very much like Schultz, as seen in a video shot from a window above the parking lot where the student encountered police.
“Come on, let’s drop the knife,” an officers gun was drawn, tells the student.
Schultz identified as “nonbinary and intersex” — neither male nor female — and was known around campus for leading an equality group called Pride Alliance.
Schultz appears to shout in the video.
At least four campus officers had surrounded the student by then, according to WSB-TV. As Schultz advances, one of the officers backs up behind a parking barricade.
“Nobody wants to hurt you,” the officer says.
But Schultz keeps walking forward, slowly and haltingly, advancing first toward one officer, then another, ignoring their commands.
“Do not move!”
The student takes three more steps forward, followed by the sound of a gunshot and then many screams.
Schultz died Sunday at an Atlanta hospital. An attorney for the family said the student was shot once through the heart.
Schultz never had a gun, police and the family agree. Investigators said a multipurpose tool with a knife was recovered from the parking lot.
But the family attorney said that the blade had been tucked into its holder and that Schultz’s arms remained at the side throughout the police encounter.
“It’s tragic that as Scout was battling mental-health issues that pushed them to the edge of desperation, their life was taken with a bullet rather than saved with nonlethal force,” L. Chris Stewart, the Schultz family attorney, said in a statement.
Stewart added in an interview with The Washington Post:
“That’s baffling to me that on a college campus, you’d rather give the officers the most deadly weapons and not equip them with less lethal weapons.”
A spokesman for Georgia Tech told CNN that campus police do not carry stun guns.
Schultz’s parents said their child suffered from anxiety and depression and had spent time in counselling after attempting suicide by hanging two years ago.
But Lynne Schultz told The Post that her child’s mental health issues appeared to have been resolved and that friends reported Scout seemed fine in their fourth year at Georgia Tech.
“We had no clue that there was an issue in the last four weeks,” she said.
Bill Schultz said his child, originally from Maryland, was on track to graduate a semester early — intent on a career in engineering.
But the student was also interested in politics. Schultz had lately become frustrated with news coverage of police-involved shootings, Bill Schultz said and expressed interest in the anti-fascist movement.
“I tend to think that if there was a cause, it might have been anger at the police over all the shootings,” Bill Schultz said.
Police across the country fatally shoot an average of three people each day, a rate virtually unchanged in recent years despite calls from police leaders and the public for reform.
Mental illness plays a role in at least one-fourth of all such shootings, according to a Washington Post analysis. And since January 2015, U.S. police have killed at least 392 people who were armed with knives, blades or other edged weapons — 102 deaths this year alone, including Schultz.
“One of our student leaders, Scout Schultz, has died and we all bear the tremendous weight of that loss,” the university president wrote in Tuesday’s letter. Peterson wrote that he’d met the “smart and passionate” student leader at a graduation ceremony last year and mourned Schultz with the entire community.
In a weekend statement, Pride Alliance called its late president the “driving force” behind the group.
“We love you, Scout,” the group wrote, “and we will continue to push for change.”
Schultz was “all justice for everyone,” the student’s father told The Post.
“Now,” he said, “we have to seek justice for Scout.”
Bill Schultz attended Monday’s vigil. But after the violence outside the police building, the family released another statement.
“We ask that those who wish to protest Scout’s death do so peacefully,” it read. “Answering violence with violence is not the answer.”