Family members of the Timberview High School student who reportedly opened fire on classmates and teachers following a dispute Wednesday morning are now claiming that he was a victim of bullying.
Timothy George Simpkins, 18, of Arlington, Texas, was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Wednesday after allegedly pulling out a gun and firing shots during a fight with another student in a second-floor classroom.
Four people, including two students and two teachers, were injured in the incident. Simpkins fled the scene in a Dodge Charger but turned himself into police a few hours later with an attorney.
Speaking with reporters after the incident, Simpkins’ family said while they don’t condone Simpkins’ use of a firearm, they hope an investigation will turn up proof that he was acting in self-defense.
“The decision he made, taking the gun, we are not justifying that. That was not right. But he was trying to protect himself. We hope the police department does the investigation properly,” Carol Harrison Lafayette, a family member, said, according to KDFW-TV.
The family claimed that there are documented reports of ongoing bullying incidents between Simpkins and other students, though neither police nor the Mansfield Independent School District have confirmed the existence of such reports.
Family of suspect in Timberview school shooting releases statement
“He was robbed,” Lafayette said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “It was recorded. It happened not just once, it happened twice. He was scared, he was afraid.
“There is no justification of anybody … being hurt,” she continued. “[But] we have to take a look at the fact that bullying is real. And it takes us all. And I do apologize. We ask as a family for forgiveness of any type of hurt.”
They claim that he may have been a “target” for bullying due to the fact that he had material possessions that others didn’t have and that he “wore nice clothes” and “drove nice cars.”
Simpkins’ cousin Cint Wheat posted a video on Facebook that appears to show a fight involving Simpkins, but details have yet to be confirmed.
When asked about the bullying claims, Arlington Police Asst. Chief Kevin Kolbye said that detectives will be looking into the allegations, but he noted that it doesn’t excuse criminal behavior.
“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,” Kolbye 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.”