The family of an engineering student who was shot and killed by police on the Georgia Tech campus is searching for answers.
Police say Scout Schultz, 21, of Lilburn, was holding a “multi-purpose tool,” which was first described as a knife, near a campus dormitory Saturday when authorities made contact and ordered the weapon to be dropped. Cellphone video captured by witnesses shows Schultz failing to comply with police demands, instead walking toward officers. At one point, one of the officers fired one round, which knocked Schultz to the ground. Schultz later died at a nearby hospital.
WSB-TV Atlanta reported the weapon “appeared to be a metal, flip-open, multi-tool,” and the Schultz family attorney referred to it as being a “pocket knife.”
Schultz was a politically active fourth-year student and the president of a Georgia Tech LBGTQ organization. Scout’s mother, Lynn Schultz, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that her oldest child suffered from a number of medical issues over the years, including depression. Two years ago, Scout attempted suicide, the mother told the newspaper, adding that the family spent this past summer at home “trying to decompress.”
Scout’s father, Bill Schultz, is questioning why officers had to use lethal force against his child.
“Why did you have to shoot? That’s the question,” he said. “That’s the only question that matters now. Whatever happened shouldn’t have ended in a death.”
Here’s what you need to know about Schultz and the incident:
1. Officers Received a Call From Schultz Saying a Person Was Armed With a Knife & a Gun on Campus
The incident took place at around 11:30 p.m. local time on September 17 in the West Campus residential community near Eighth Street.
The Georgia Tech Police Department said it received an emergency call from a person now identified as Schultz reporting a person with a knife and possibly a gun on campus. A large number of officers responded to the scene and made contact with Schultz, who was barefoot and armed with what was believed to be a knife, police say.
Over the span of about 10-15 minutes, officers negotiated with Schultz to drop the weapon while their guns were drawn. After walking toward one officer, Schultz was shot by. Schultz was transported to at Grady Memorial Hospital and died a short time later.
Schultz “was not cooperative and would not comply with the officers’ commands,” the police department wrote in a press release. “Schultz continued to advance on the officers with the knife. Subsequently, one officer fired striking Schultz.”
As the ordeal unfolded, Georgia Tech sent out alerts to the community urging people to take shelter in a secure location and “lock all doors and windows.”
About 15 minutes after tweeting the alert, the all clear was given once Schultz was shot.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident and the circumstances surrounding Schultz’s death. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy.
2. Video Posted to Social Media Shows the Chaotic Incident
Note: The above video contains graphic content some may find disturbing.
Students in nearby residences around the West Campus area captured video of the ordeal. In one video, Schultz can be seen standing near a parking garage as police have their guns out and attempt to negotiate. Several officers can be heard telling Schultz to drop the knife numerous times.
“Shoot me,” Schultz can be heard saying about one minute before one of the officers fired.
“Nobody wants to hurt you,” another officer can be heard saying to Schultz.
Schultz begins moving toward officers and momentarily stops.
“Do not move,” an officer can be heard saying as he asks what Schultz’s name is.
Suddenly, Schultz moves at a brisk pace toward an officer and at least one shot is heard as Schultz hits the ground and starts screaming in agony.
Georgia Tech Vice President of Student Life and the Dean of Students John M. Stein sent a letter to students confirming that Schultz was killed, adding that the school is offering numerous resources to those affected by the police shooting death.
I am deeply saddened to inform the Georgia Tech community of the loss of fourth year computer engineering student Scout Schultz of Lilburn, Georgia. Scout’s sudden and tragic death today has been devastating news for the Schultz family, classmates, and for members of the community who knew Scout personally, the shock and grief are particularly acute.
We are committed to providing resources for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of our entire campus community. Please remember that Georgia Tech offers multiple services and resources in support of the community during this time of loss and grief.
3. Schultz Was the President of Georgia Tech’s LGBTQ Organization
Schultz was the president of the Pride Alliance on Georgia Tech’s campus.
According to a profile on the Alliance’s website, Schultz lived around the United States growing up, but primarily in Lilburn, about 25 miles northeast of Atlanta. Schultz, who identified as non-binary, was majoring in computer engineering and had a minor in biomedical engineering with an intention of working work on medical devices following graduation, they wrote in the profile.
“I’m bisexual, nonbinary, and intersex,” the profile says. “When I’m not running Pride or doing classwork I mostly play (Dungeons and Dragons) and try to be politically active.”
The Pride Alliance released an emotional statement on its webpage September 17, saying “they have been the driving force behind Pride Alliance for the past two years.”
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.
Once Schultz was identified as the person shot and killed, friends, colleagues and classmates remembered the student for the type of character they had.
“I was friends with them in high school,” a user wrote on Georgia Tech’s subreddit. “We played dungeons and dragons together. They just messaged me a few days ago about some new cards for magic the gathering, and I never got around to responding. And now I never will. You didn’t deserve this Scout. I’m so sorry. My thoughts to you, your friends, family, and to the community you left behind.”
“Damn, I had two early ECE classes with them,” another Reddit user wrote. “Would have never thought this would have happened.”
Scout’s father said his oldest child as was awarded a full-ride scholarship and maintained a 3.9 grade point average.
4. Schultz’s Family Hired a Prominent Civil Rights Attorney, Who Questioned Police Tactics & Training
Less than 24 hours after the shooting, Civil Rights Attorney L. Chris Stewart said he was retained to represent the Schultz family as the investigation continues. He said the family is seeking answers as to why officers didn’t use other tactics to subdue Schultz.
“I think (Scout) was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do,” Stewart told the AJC, adding he doesn’t think Scout was attempting suicide by cop. “The area was secured, there was no one around at risk.”
Lynne Schultz questioned why officers didn’t use “nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers,” she told the AJC.
At a September 18 press conference, Stewart acknowledged that Schultz suffered from mental health issues, but questioned the officers’ training for dealing with those who are clearly distressed.
“People have breakdowns sometimes,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they deserve to die.”
Stewart, who’s a partner at Stewart, Seay & Felton, has represented Alton Sterling, Gregory Towns, Walter Scott and Chase Sherman, all who died after incidents with police.
In 2016, he was named the 2016 “Attorney of the Year” by Daily Report for his “nationally recognized work representing victims of police violence and their families, and his nationwide public speaking on how to resolve community versus police issues,” according to the law firm’s website.
5. ‘Violent Protests’ Erupted Hours After a Vigil Held for Schultz
The Alliance planned a vigil to be held in Schultz’s name on September 18 at the Georgia Tech Campanile, and hundreds showed up with candles to remember the student.
Afterward, protests started and quickly turned violent. Georgia Tech officials urged the community to seek shelter and stay indoors for well over an hour as protesters clashed with police in “violent demonstrations.”
Social media users posted a photo of a police vehicle on fire due to a flare being throw inside of it.
WSB-TVs Justin Wilfon reported that at least one officer sustained a head injury and was loaded into the back of an ambulance.
The Schultz family released a statement through Stewart saying they condone the violent actions of protesters.
As of about 11 p.m. local time, Wilfon reported that “most” of the protesters left.