Student Activist Scout Schultz Killed by Georgia Tech Campus Police

Scout Schultz, a dynamic student activist majoring in computer science at Georgia Tech, was shot to death by campus police over the weekend. The circumstances are provoking tough questions about police training, as well as a larger issue: Should campus police be armed at all?

Schultz, who served as president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, was evidently well-liked by their peers, but — like many people in the LGBQTIA community — they also struggled with depression and mental health issues.

Their mother commented that Schultz had a history of suicidal ideation in high school, and their summer involvedásome mental health struggles. Finding peers and creating support networks upon going to college can make it easier for LGBQTIA people to survive, but it’s not always enough.

The circumstances of the shooting remain under review, but we do know that campus police were allegedly called late on Saturday about a “suspicious person” armed with a knife and gun. And that individual turned out to be Schultz. Law enforcement claim they traced the call back to Schultz’ room, where they say they later foundáseveral suicide notes.

A student recording the scene caughtáhaunting footageáof Schultz facing down with police, clearly unarmed — though they appearedáto be clutching a small object in theiráhand.

When theyárefused to raise their arms and moved toward the police, one as-yet unidentified officer opened fire, striking Schultzáin the heart and killing them. Law enforcement found a small multitool that included a knife, though it hadn’t been opened, on the ground next to Schultz.

Scout Schultz’ death raisesásome specific concernsáabout police violence. Why are campus cops being provided with guns instead of nonlethal options and extensive training in deescalation? A growing number of campus law enforcement agencies are armed, with some citing the rise in mass shootings as an explanation.

In 2015, theádeath of Samuel DuBose highlighted what happens when biased humans are handed guns and told to use them in the course of their work.

There are plenty of arguments for disarming campus cops, as well asáfor law enforcement in other settings.áWhile guns and police are inextricably intertwined in the U.S. eye, police forces in other regions of the world don’t necessarily carry guns — and those that do aren’t as well-armed. That’s not a weakness on their part, but a deliberate law enforcement strategy move.

The fact that Schultz may have been dealing with mental health issues is also important. A large percentage of police shootings involve people who are mentally ill and experiencing symptoms of a mental health episode.

With declining mental health services in many parts of the country, sometimes the only people available to respond to mental health calls are police — and they aren’t being provided with the necessaryátraining to intervene safely. Schultz was white, but the risks are even more dramatic for people of color.

We also know that while mental health issues are common for many members of the LGBQTI community, trans and intersex people can be at especially high risk of suicide. Unfortunately, we still lack authoritative studies on intersex suicide in particular. Schultz identified asáintersex, and that may have played a role in their mental health difficulties.

Schultz isn’táthe first — and sadly won’t likelyábe the last — person in distress to call the police and receive a bullet instead of a helping hand.

Take Action!

Sign this Care2 petition, and urge Georgia Tech to adopt nonlethal police strategies for defusing potentially threatening situations.

Photo credit: Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech/Facebook

53 comments

heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Too many guns.

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Colleen W
Colleen Wabout a month ago

Whilst this is very tragic, I'm confused. The story keeps referring to "them" and "their" - was more than one person shot?

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Carl R
Carl R1 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 months ago

Armed campus cops?

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Marija M
Marija M1 months ago

So very sad.

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Irene S
Irene S1 months ago

Will they ever learn not to give every Tom, Dick and Harry a gun?

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Telica R
Telica R1 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago

so sad, signed

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Karen H
Karen H1 months ago

"I'm a campus cop. I have a gun. I have to use it." Were these campus police trained to deal with mentally unstable people? Probably not. Armed police (whether on campus or city, state or whatever) need to be trained in various scenarios. Or perhaps the thinking is, "It's cheaper to be sued by the family of the deceased than to give our people training."

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 months ago

So awfully sad!! Petition signed - Thank you for sharing!

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