Student Who Shot a Teacher and Two Students in a Texas School Released Within 24 Hours on $75,000 Bond

(AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Yesterday, there was a school shooting in Texas.

Around 9:15 a.m., police in Arlington, TX, got the first call of shots fired at Timberview High School. When officers responded, they found three people shot, plus one other person wounded critically. A 25-year-old victim, identified in various reports as a teacher, was hospitalized in “good” condition. A pregnant teacher twisted her ankle trying to get the hell out of Dodge; she was treated at the scene and released. Another victim (whose age I have not been able to determine) was hospitalized and then released. Finally, a 15-year-old is still in the hospital in critical condition.

The suspect was quickly identified as 18-year-old Timothy George Simpkins, who fled the scene. According to reports, school resource officers responded within minutes but were too late to do anything (when every second counts, the police are only minutes away). Simpkins eventually contacted an attorney who brokered his surrender. A weapon has been recovered, a .45-caliber pistol, that is thought to have been used by Simpkins in the shooting.

This is how it all started. Simpkins is the one who catches the beat-down in the video.

USA Today, in its coverage, quotes from the police arrest warrant.

Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye said Wednesday the shooting occurred after a fight broke out between students. In an arrest warrant released Thursday, police said a witness heard a teacher calling for help from another classroom and saw a fight between Simpkins and another student when she entered.

The witness helped break up the fight and “was able to control the other individual involved in the altercation,” the arrest warrant states.

“When the witness turns around to check on Simpkins, Simpkins had produced a firearm. Upon seeing this firearm, the witness turned to run out of the classroom. The witness then heard three-to-four gunshots,” the arrest warrant states.

Another witness told police Simpkins grabbed the firearm from a backpack after the fight broke up. This witness said Simpkins shot seven to eight times, the arrest warrant states.

In other words, a teacher intervened to break up the fight, and witnesses thought things were calmed down. Simpkins then took the weapon from inside his backpack and opened fire. The kid who gave him the beat-down and the teacher who broke up the fight were shot, as well as a third student.

Today, Simpkins was charged with three counts of aggravated assault–none of the firearms-related offenses were charged–and released on $75,000 bail to home arrest.

I am not a lawyer, but this sounds nuts.

Simpkins brought a concealed weapon to school with the intent to use it. He didn’t use it to defend himself while being attacked. Instead, he used the weapon, after all danger had passed and witnesses thought the altercation was over, to exact revenge for the beating. He didn’t limit himself to shooting his assailant; he shot a teacher and another student. The shooting took place in a school and during school hours.

His family alleges that he was bullied and had been robbed at school. That may be true, but the veracity of that claim, it seems to me, is something for a jury to consider — as it has no bearing on Simpkins’ decision to open fire when not threatened. Even if the prosecutor believes the victim had it coming, the failure to charge the easily provable weapons offenses is, to me, inexplicable. We should not give a pass to anyone who illegally possesses a firearm.

I can’t think of a case where a school shooter has been released on what amounts to his own recognizance because $75,000, in terms of bail, is nothing. For instance, last Friday in Harris County, TX, a former student at a charter school shot through a glass door and injured the principal. He is still locked up, with his bail set at $5.25 million. (I am open to being corrected on this, but when I tried to determine how similar cases were treated, I found that the bond and conditions of release for minors are not reported on.)

In the television series, Homicide: Life on the Streets, one of the main characters referred to Baltimore, the set for the show, as the “home of the misdemeanor homicide.” These were homicides that the police didn’t think were important to solve, and the community basically agreed that the victim had it coming. Anytime a kid can bring a gun to school and shoot three people–two of whom appear to be uninvolved bystanders–and be released within 24 hours on a minimal bond, we are entering the dangerous territory of the “misdemeanor school shooting.”