Lawyers insist suspect was bullied before Arlington school shooting, though unconfirmed by police

Timothy Simpkins lawyers
The attorneys say they plan to ask the court for a gag order to prevent officials from talking publicly about the case.
Timothy Simpkins lawyers
Timothy Simpkins’ lawyers from left, MarQuetta Clayton and Kim Cole during a press conference to address Arlington police chief Al Jones’ statement in Dallas on Monday, October 25, 2021. Chief Jones said the shooting that occurred at Timberview high school was not a bullying incident and he seeks to remove it from the narrative. (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News)(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

By Maggie Prosser

Lawyers representing the suspect in a Timberview High School shooting earlier this month reiterated allegations Monday that he had been bullied before the incident.

The assertions came during a news conference, called days after Arlington’s police chief said the 18-year-old, Timothy George Simpkins, had been involved in “high-risk activity” that led to a disagreement at the school before the shooting. The chief said he couldn’t discuss details about whether there was evidence of bullying.

Simpkins is under house arrest after he was released from Tarrant County jail on $75,000 bail for three charges of aggravated assault in the Oct. 6 shooting.

On Monday, his lawyers and family said they had “extensive” evidence to back up their claims that he had been bullied. The attorneys, though, declined to share any of that evidence, which they said they expect to present at trial.

Simpkins’ family has said he was “threatened, beaten and harassed” since the beginning of the school year, and his lawyers said he was bullied through social media, text messages, emails and video.

Four people were injured in the shooting, including a critically wounded 15-year-old who was released from a hospital last week. His family could not be reached for comment Monday but has said he “does not have a bone in his body to bully anyone” and has a “heart of gold.”

“There was pervasive bullying at Timberview High,” attorney Kim Cole said. “… [Parents] should demand Timberview High address the bullying there on campus because that is the only way they will be assured of their children’s safety.”

Cole also denied that her client had engaged in any “high-risk activity” before the shooting.

“He was simply sitting in a classroom doing his schoolwork,” she said.

Another attorney for Simpkins, MarQuetta Clayton, urged the police chief and other officials not to make public statements that could taint a jury and interfere with her client’s right to a fair trial.

The lawyers said they expect to ask the court for a gag order to prevent such commentary.

“This investigation is still underway, and an independent investigation is being done,” Clayton said. “It is impossible for anyone to know all that was involved, let alone what precipitated the incident.”

The lawyers said Simpkins had been “brutally attacked” in a fight that was captured on video before the shooting, but court documents say that fight had been broken up before he retrieved a gun from his backpack and opened fire in a classroom.

Family describes threats, beatings of Arlington school shooting suspect who is now free on bond

Family and friends of Timothy George Simpkins
Timothy George Simpkins, 18, was named as a suspect in the shooting at the high school, and was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon about 1:20 p.m.
Family and friends of Timothy George Simpkins
Family and friends of Timothy George Simpkins, 18, who was named as a suspect in the shooting at Timberview High School on Wednesday, surround him as he arrives home in Arlington on Thursday after being released on bond.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

By Maggie ProsserValeria Olivares and Kevin Krause

The suspect in the Arlington school shooting posted bond and was released from the Tarrant County jail about the same time his family wrote Thursday online that he’d been “threatened, beaten and harassed” since the beginning of the school year.

The Facebook post attributed to his family said school authorities had done nothing about the bullying.

Timothy George Simpkins, 18, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon about 1:20 p.m. after the morning shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington that left four injured. Simpkins had been held at the Arlington jail and transferred to the Tarrant County jail about 9 a.m. Thursday.

He faces three charges of aggravated assault. His bail was set at $75,000, according to jail records. He turned himself in with the help of an attorney but it’s unclear who represents him.

Simpkins was placed on house arrest as a condition of his bond, according to court documents. He can’t possess a gun and must stay 1,000 feet away from Timberview. He was also ordered not to contact any of the people injured.

Asked what is next for Simpkins after he was released, a family attorney told the assembled media he needed to finish school.

“You’re aware there’s a difference between a mass shooting, a school shooting,” Kim Cole said. “These are people who are out to shoot multiple people and that’s not what happened.”

The motivations of the alleged attacker remain unknown, but he apparently acted after a fight, and family members said he had been bullied.

“Recently he was ambushed by a group of young males outside of school, stripped of his clothing in front of a crowd of onlookers, and robbed of his money and possessions,” the Facebook post says.

“All of these occurrences were brought to the attention” of school officials, “And absolutely nothing was done to protect my son. He became depressed and some days did not even want to get out of bed,” the post says. “I am certain that he was fearful for his safety and felt that he had no support from those in authority whose responsibility it was to protect him.”

While making sure to not excuse any use of a gun, the post adds that Simpkins’ own father was brutally murdered. “And this fact definitely heightened Timothy’s fear for his life — not to mention that the young men responsible for beating and harassing him recently made threats to kill him,” the post says, “So you see, my son was terrified and believed he would be murdered just like his father.”

Hope Boyd, Mansfield ISD’s director of communications and marketing, said in an email that a “thorough investigation into yesterday’s incident is still ongoing, so specific details cannot be addressed at this time.”

”What we can say is that the safety and security of our students and staff — both physically and social-emotionally — has always been and will remain our [No. 1] priority. Every report that we receive of a potential bullying situation is thoroughly investigated and goes through the proper processes in order to assess and determine the appropriate consequence.”

Boyd included a link to the district’s anti-bullying webpage, which described the district’s definitions for bullying, procedures on how to determine if certain actions meet the “legal definition” of bullying, and how to report such conduct.

What we know about Simpkins and the shooting:

  • He is an 18-year-old student at Timberview High School in Arlington, which lies within the Mansfield Independent School District.
  • Family said Thursday in the Facebook post that he was a straight-A student who attended private school until recently and had an impressive GPA.
  • Carol Harrison Lafayette, a relative speaking for the family, said Wednesday that Simpkins is an outgoing, well-liked, loving person, who was excited to graduate from high school.
  • The family said he wants to be an engineer. “Timothy has always been a kind and thoughtful child who loves to learn,” the post says. “Because he spends so much time focusing on his studies, most of his relatives call him the ‘little nerd’ of the family.”
  • A fight reportedly broke out in a second-story classroom at the school Wednesday morning, followed by the shooting. The suspect left after the shooting.
  • A social media video circulating appears to show someone who looks like Simpkins in a fight at the school, but police said they can’t verify that it is from the school yet.
  • Police said they don’t know how the shooter got a gun into the school. Grand Prairie police recovered a .45-caliber handgun on England Parkway and federal authorities are seeking to determine whether it was used in the shooting.
  • Police began to look for the car Simpkins drives, a 2018 silver Dodge Charger. The vehicle was found at an apartment complex in Grand Prairie.
  • Simpkins turned himself in to authorities at about 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, and with an attorney, he spoke with detectives.
  • About 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, a SWAT team executed a search warrant at the home where he lives with his grandmother. The Edgefield neighborhood is a relatively new development with limestone and brick facades.
  • Simpkins’ social media accounts appear to have been active early Wednesday but the accounts are no longer available.

Staff writers Corbett Smith and Tom Steele and researchers Naomi Kaskela, Ana Niño and Erin Sood contributed to this report.

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