The student accused of opening fire at a Texas high school had been bullied over his financially “blessed” family, fancy clothes and $35,000 car — and bought a handgun for protection, his relatives say.
Timothy George Simpkins, 18, a student at Timberview High School in Arlington, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after turning himself in Wednesday afternoon.
Simpkins — who was accused of firing a .45-caliber handgun during a fight with another student — lives in a $400,000 home with his grandmother, Lillie, and drives a 2018 Dodge Charger, the Daily Mail reported.
His family said they were glad he didn’t decide to commit suicide over the bullying.
“He was robbed. It was recorded. It happened not just once, it happened twice. He was scared, he was afraid,” Carol Harrison-Lafayette, who said she is a relative speaking for Simpkins’ family, told reporters.
A cousin, Cint Wheat, wrote on social media, “It could have been a decision that he could have committed suicide… he was trying to protect himself. They were blessed financially,” the Daily Mail said.
Wheat wrote on Facebook that “at the end of the day my lil cousin was bullied. I don’t know to feel about this he not no bad kid.”
She shared a video of a fight that police have confirmed took place inside the school before the shooting, though it was unclear if it was taken Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the Daily Mail.
A woman who identified herself as the suspect’s mother also claimed he was bullied but declined to elaborate, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“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,” Harrison-Lafayette said, adding that his bullying had been reported to teachers and principals.
“He was able to get things that other teenagers cannot have, because he wore nice clothes, because he drove nice cars, he was like a target,” she told reporters and described him as an “outgoing, loving person,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I’m not trying to justify the gun that was brought, but when you’re being bullied, when there’s bullies, throughout this nation you hear of young people … committing suicide,” she said, according to the paper.
“The decision he made, taking the gun, we’re not justifying that,” Harrison-Lafayette continued. “That was not right. But he was trying to protect himself. And so we hope that the police department does the investigation properly. There are going to be independent investigations that are going to be done as well so we can get to the bottom of really what happened.”
She added: “He’s been around his grandmother, his loving mother, they taught him to love, and he was a giver … mostly well liked up until the point where he got into his senior year. … He was looking forward to graduating and doing something with his life.”
When asked about bullying allegations by some parents, schools spokesman Donald Williams said the Mansfield district is conducting a full investigation.
“What I will say to that is we take the safety and security of our students in our faculty and staff seriously,” he reportedly said.
Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the shooting stemmed from a fight that broke out in a classroom.
People have since linked two videos shared in social media of a fight in a classroom to the shooting, NBC DFW reported.
“I can confirm that we are aware of both videos and we believe they show the fight that took place this morning prior to the shooting,” police spokesman Tim Ciesco said, according to the station. “They are being looked at as part of the investigation.”
A 15-year-old boy remained in critical condition after being shot, police said. A 25-year-old man who was also shot was in good condition, along with a teenage girl who was not struck by gunfire, according to cops.
A pregnant teacher was injured after she fell during the incident, but was not hospitalized, officials said.
Simpkins is being held on a $75,000 bond.