A Georgia Tech student dies in tragic confrontation with campus police. Vigil in his honor turns violent tonight.

UPDATE MONDAY NIGHT:

A vigil at Georgia Tech to remember a student gunned down by campus police turned violent Monday night.

A police car was set afire as about 50 participants marched to the Georgia Tech Police Department on the corner of Hemphill and First avenues. It was unclear who set  the blaze. An unidentified individual was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment Monday night.

A police car is set afire near the Georgia Tech police station Monday night. Photo: Nelson Helm/AJC

UPDATE from AJC Monday afternoon:

Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz called 911 before being shot by campus police, the GBI reports.

Schultz called 911 alerting them “of a suspicious person on campus. In the call, Schultz describes the person as a white male, with long blonde hair, white T-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip,” the GBI said in a statement.

Three suicide notes were located in Schultz’s dorm room. Two years ago, Schultz attempted suicide using a belt, the 21-year-old engineering student’s mother told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Schultz was armed only with a multi-purpose tool that contained a knife. The blade was not extended. Schultz can be heard on video telling police to shoot before one of four officers fired a fatal bullet to the chest.

Original blog:

With a child now at Georgia Tech, I've been following the shooting death late Saturday night of senior computer engineering student Scout Schultz by campus police.

The deadly incident occurred behind my son's dorm on the west campus. My husband and I had driven past the site only a few hours earlier after a quick visit. This morning we learned from our son that a fourth-year student was fatally shot by campus police, and that other students had witnessed it. Students were reporting Scout Schultz had a knife, and the police had instructed Scout to drop it a dozen or so times before the shot was fired.

Videos recorded by Tech students captured the exchanges between the police and Scout as well as the shooting. In the videos, police implore Scout to drop what they believe is some sort of knife. The student continues to approach the officers, although not rushing them. A shot is fired, followed by a scream.

The videos generated comments across various social media channels today, many from Tech students or alums. Some wondered why officers couldn't shoot the student in the leg or arm rather than in the midsection as seems to have occurred.  A former firearms instructor posted, "You shoot to stop the threat, and that's done by shooting center mass. Whether that ends up disabling the threat or killing is beside the point. Never is the intent to kill."

The discussions also include questions like this one in a Tech forum on Reddit: "Why can't a bunch of police take someone like this down non lethally? Did they tase?"

It's not only Tech students raising that issue. So is the student's family.

“Why didn’t they use some nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers?” Scout's mother, Lynne Schultz, said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday.

A Tech spokesman said campus police do not carry Tasers, or stun guns, but are equipped with pepper spray.

Here is an excerpt of the AJC interview with Scout's mother by Christian Boone:

Scout, she says, was politically active in progressive causes. Scout, a brilliant student despite numerous medical issues, suffered from depression and had attempted suicide two years ago, Lynne Schultz said.

According to Georgia Tech police, Scout was seen walking toward police and ignored numerous orders to drop what appeared to be a pocket knife. Photos of the knife taken at the scene reveal the blade was not extended.

Chris Stewart, the attorney for the student’s parents, said it appears the officer who shot Scout overreacted. “I think (Scout) was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do,” said Stewart, who wondered why nonlethal force wasn’t used. “The area was secured. There was no one around at risk.”

Scout Schultz was shot in the heart and was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Grady Memorial Hospital, Lynne Schultz said.

Two years ago, Scout attempted suicide by hanging, the student’s mother said. Stewart said he doesn’t believe Scout was attempting “suicide by cop.”

Scout was president of Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech. In its statement, the alliance board said:

As you might have heard, last night we lost our President, Scout Schultz. We are all deeply saddened by what has occurred. They have been the driving force behind Pride Alliance for the past two years. They pushed us to do more events and a larger variety events, and we would not be the organization we are known as without their constant hard work and dedication. Their leadership allowed us to create change across campus and in the Atlanta community. Scout always reminded us to think critically about the intersection of identities and how a multitude of factors play into one's experience on Tech's campus and beyond.

We love you Scout and we will continue to push for change.

This tragedy will likely spur debate on both police response and campus mental health outreach. Second guessing Tech police at this point is foolhardy. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into what happened. We all need to wait for more information and offer our sympathies to Scout's family and classmates.

 

About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey is a longtime reporter for the AJC where she has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy for...
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