Texas school shooting suspect in custody, churches comfort students and families

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — An 18-year-old student who opened fire during a fight at his Dallas-area high school and injured four people on Wednesday has been taken into custody, authorities said.

Timothy George Simpkins fled from Timberview High School in Arlington after the Wednesday morning shooting and drove off in a silver Dodge Charger, police said.

The Arlington Police Department tweeted hours after the shooting that Simpkins had been taken into custody without incident and charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault with a gun.

The shooting stemmed from a fight that broke out in a classroom, Arlington Assistant Police Chief Kevin Kolbye said at a news conference. Two people were shot and two others had unspecified injuries, he said. At least three of the injured are students, and three of the four injured were taken to hospitals for treatment, he said.

“This is not a random act of violence,” he said. “This is not somebody attacking our school.”

Timberview serves about 1,900 students in ninth through 12th grades. The sprawling complex opened in 2004.

A few miles away, members and staff at First Baptist Church Mansfield, Texas, began planning to reach out to those affected.

The church’s preschool minister has a son who was in the room when the shooting took place, said Mike Sellers, First Baptist’s executive pastor. The boy was able to run away from the school before it went into lockdown and call his family to let them know he was OK.

“We’re all in shock,” Sellers said, adding that the church is planning to meet tonight as usual for Wednesday night activities.

“Wednesday is our student night,” he said. “We’re going to go ahead and meet and spend time with them in prayer, walking with them and helping them process. We have an amazing big God that has a plan. We’re going to talk them through that.”

Sellers said the church’s lead pastor has been in touch with school officials to find out ways they can help, including providing financial help for those who may seek counseling for trauma.

“This is our community. We want them to know that we’re here for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tate Springs Baptist Church, also in Arlington, announced a special called 6 p.m. prayer meeting in the wake of the shooting.

“As a church, we represent God’s Kingdom in a fallen world,” a statement released by the church said, “and as a church in Arlington, we seek to represent His Kingdom specifically in our local community.”

Tate Springs Pastor Jared Wellman told Baptist Press the incident “reminds us, darkly, of the fallenness of man and our desperate need for new creation, which only comes from Christ.”

Wellman said he doesn’t believe the church has any members currently attending Timberview High School, though many attend schools in the same district and the church’s youth pastor attended the school.

“Our hope is to show people the hope of the Kingdom, especially when evil expresses itself like it does in gun violence towards our community’s most innocent members,” Wellman said.

After news of the shooting spread, parents gathered about 5 miles from campus to be reunited with their kids, who were bused over from the school. Among them was Justin Rockhold, whose ninth-grade son had texted him to let him know he was OK.

Rockhold said he has served in the military and he used that experience to instruct his son, telling him to keep his head down and be still to stay safe. When asked whether he had thought about a shooting happening, the father said his military training is also a reminder of life’s dangerous realities.

“Obviously in America – in the world we live in today – it’s always something … it’s in the back of your mind,” Rockhold said, adding that his prayers are with the injured. “I’m just blessed today that my kid’s safe.”

The shooting happened just days after a shooting at a Houston charter school that injured an administrator. Texas’ deadliest school shooting occurred in May of 2018 when a then-17-year-old armed with a shotgun and a pistol opened fire at Santa Fe High School near Houston, killing 10 people, most of whom were students.


From The Associated Press. May not be republished. Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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