Demonstrators set fire to a Georgia Tech police car on Monday, Sept. 18, during a protest against a police shooting of a student in what appears to have been a suicide by cop. The incident sparked outcry from students at Georgia Tech who said the police officer overreacted.
Georgia Tech students held a peaceful vigil at the school’s Atlanta campus to protest the shooting death of 21-year-old engineering student Scout Schultz on the night of Sept. 16.
About 20 minutes after the vigil ended, a group of about 50 marchers, chanting and carrying banners, began circling the campus. The group then made its way to the campus police station, according to university spokesman Lance Wallace. When the marchers reached the police station they fought with police and set fire to a police car. Three were arrested. Two officers suffered minor injuries.
Georgia Tech administration released a statement saying that the three arrestees were charged with inciting to riot and battery of a police officer. The statement did not specify whether the three were Georgia Tech students.
Doctoral student Shen Xincheng attended the vigil and witnessed the confrontation with police.
Shen told CNN he “realized this was going to be very bad” when he saw the mob marching towards police headquarters chanting “Justice now.” Shen said some of the marchers were carrying what looked like tools and pieces of pipe, and some of them wore bandanas covering their faces.
One of the marchers jumped on a parked police car and stomped though its windshield, then set the car ablaze. Police responded by arresting obvious agitators.
“I saw a couple of students forced to the ground handcuffed. Police were not arresting everyone,” Shen said. “They were only after certain people.”
Much of the incident was captured on cell phone video.
Georgia Tech told students to stay indoors on Monday night because of violent protests.
Schultz, a fourth-year engineering student, was fatally shot by a campus police officer who was responding to a 911 call made at 11:17 p.m. on Sept. 16 about an armed and possibly intoxicated man. The caller reported that a long-haired male in jeans and a white T-shirt was behaving erratically, and that the man had a knife and possibly a gun.
The officer arrived on the scene to see Schultz carrying a multi-tool. Schultz ignored repeated warnings to drop the tool while approaching the officer. The officer then opened fire.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Nelly Miles said that it was Schultz who made the call. Three suicide notes were also found in the student’s room.
Schultz had a history of mental disturbances, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Chris Stewart, attorney for the Schultz family, told a Sept. 18 press conference that Schultz was having a breakdown and was suicidal.