Authorities say three people have been arrested after an eruption of violence on Georgia Tech’s campus Monday night. The clash, which broke out during a vigil for a 21-year-old student shot and killed Saturday by police, left officers with minor injuries and one police vehicle damaged by fire.
The vigil for Scout Schultz was attended by nearly 500 people, including Schultz’s family, according to Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson. “Unfortunately,” he added, “they were also joined by several dozen others intent on creating a disturbance and inciting violence. We believe many of them were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the event.”
The three people arrested — identified by the school as Vincent Castillenti, Jacob Wilson and Cassandra Monden — were charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer. It was not immediately clear whether they were Georgia Tech students.
The gathering began peacefully Monday night, but just over an hour after its scheduled start, the university sent an alert to its students to take shelter. After the original vigil had ended, a “different group” chanting anti-police slogans began to march through the Atlanta campus, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler.
The masked marchers, who the school says numbered around 50, set off fireworks on their way to the police headquarters on campus.
It was at this point that “I realized this was going to be very bad,” a student named Xincheng Shen told CNN. Shen noticed some members of the crowd hiding their faces behind bandanas and wielding “tools.”
It would be an hour and a half before Georgia Tech officials issued an all-clear.
The violence comes just days after Schultz, an engineering student and leader of a campus LGBTQ advocacy group, was killed in a confrontation with police officers.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has opened a probe into the incident, says Schultz called 911 on Saturday night “alerting them of a suspicious person on campus” — specifically, a man with long blond hair, armed with a knife and possibly a gun.
“Officers arrived and made contact with Schultz who was armed with a knife. Officers provided multiple verbal commands and attempted to speak with Schultz who was not cooperative and would not comply with the officers’ commands. Schultz continued to advance on the officers with the knife. Subsequently, one officer fired striking Schultz.
Schultz died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
In its statement, the GBI says authorities found “one multi-purpose tool that contained a knife” at the scene and “a total of 3 suicide notes” in Schultz’s dorm room.
“We ask that those who wish to protest Scout’s death do so peacefully. Answering violence with violence is not the answer. Our goal is to work diligently to make positive change at Georgia Tech in an effort to ensure a safer campus for all students,” Schultz’s parents said in a Monday night statement quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At a news conference earlier in the day, the family attorney, Chris Stewart, said Schultz had been suffering a mental breakdown at the time of the confrontation.
“Scout should not have been shot,” Stewart said, according to ABC. “There has to be a bigger value put on taking a human life than fear when you are doing your job.”
Georgia Tech President Peterson said Tuesday that the school is committed to finding out conclusively what happened but that “we must rely on professional investigation and evaluation, and not draw conclusions too quickly.”
“Rest assured that our campus community is responding to these recent events in a positive and constructive manner, in spite of the many challenges they represent,” Peterson added.
“I am grateful for our students, faculty, staff, campus leaders, and for our campus police. The response by our students to last night’s events is particularly heartwarming — they were on Facebook and Twitter through the night trying to find ways to show support and to say this is not who we are.”