A 17-year-old has been charged in connection with the fatal shooting of his classmate in an Alabama classroom, the latest episode of gun violence to unfold in a U.S. school.
Michael Jerome Barber, 17, is charged with manslaughter and illegal gun possession in the death of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington at Huffman High School in Birminghan, Ala., AL.com reported. Police, who initially described the shooting as accidental, said Barber also shot himself in the leg. He was taken to jail shortly after his release from a hospital.
Arrington, a high school senior, had been accepted to college and planned to become a nurse. She is the 20th person to be gunned down on a U.S. high school campus this year. The episode at Huffman High is the third fatal school shooting this year.
The shooting happened Wednesday as classes let out at the school, exactly three weeks after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla. Another school shooting, at a Kentucky high school, killed two students and left 12 other people wounded in January. Students in Florida mourned for Arrington on Twitter and shared their condolences with Huffman High students, knowing all too well the grief of losing a classmate to a school shooting.
The massacre in Florida, one of the worst school shootings in history, has sparked a fierce debate over how to stop the next school shooting. President Trump has suggested arming teachers and other school personnel, an idea that has gained traction in Alabama and Florida despite intense opposition from some educators.
Florida lawmakers this week passed new gun restrictions and created a program to train and arm school employees. State lawmakers in Alabama are weighing a similar program to equip school workers with guns.
But students from Stoneman Douglas High have come out largely in favor of new gun restrictions after seeing their classmates die allegedly at the hands of a former student wielding an AR-15, according to police. They have organized a National School Walkout for Wednesday, calling on students across the country to leave their schools for 17 minutes — one for each of the Parkland victims — at 10 a.m. to call on Congress to take action to keep students safe.
Huffman High students plan to join the walkout. But they plan to remain outside for 18 minutes — using the last minute to commemorate their own classmate.