The call that led Georgia Tech campus police to respond to a man reportedly wielding a knife was made by the student who was later shot and killed by officers, police investigators said Monday night.
That student, Scout Schultz, left three suicide notes behind in a dormitory room, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The developments added further layers of complexity to the death of Schultz, a 21-year-old who led the university’s Pride Alliance and had a history of mental illness.
In the call to police Saturday night, Schultz described a suspicious person “as a white male, with long blond hair, white T-shirt & blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip,” according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators said a multipurpose tool that contained a knife was recovered from the scene. The statement did not say whether the knife was displayed but said no firearms were recovered.
An attorney for Schultz’s family said in a statement Monday night the knife remained in its holder and Scout’s arms were at the student’s side.
“It’s tragic that as Scout was battling mental health issues that pushed them to the edge of desperation, their life was taken with a bullet rather than saved with non-lethal force,” said the statement from L. Chris Stewart, the Schultz family attorney.
The parents of Schultz said their child, who identified as neither male nor female, had suffered from anxiety and depression, and had spent time in counseling after attempting suicide by hanging two years ago.
But Scout’s death stunned Lynne and Bill Schultz, who described Scout as “a very loving and caring and empathetic person.”
“I don’t think there was a single person that didn’t love them and cherish them for their involvement in the different causes,” Bill Schultz said.
On Monday night about 50 people marched to the campus police department following a memorial vigil, according to University spokesman Lance Wallace. Three people were arrested after protesters set one police vehicle on fire and injured two officers.
Schultz’s family urged protesters to act peacefully in a statement released through their attorney, according to the Associated Press.
“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.”
The shooting in Atlanta comes as police nationwide continue to face protest and media scrutiny over the use of deadly force. Police across the country shoot and kill an average of three people each day, a rate virtually unchanged in recent years despite calls from police leaders and the public for reform.
Mental illness remains a major factor in fatal police shootings, playing a role in at least one-fourth of all such shootings — at least 159 so far in 2017 — according to a Washington Post analysis.
Police reform groups have long emphasized the need for officers to undergo specialized crisis intervention training to learn best practices for interaction with people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis, but many police departments still do not require such training.
Since January 2015, police nationwide have shot and killed at least 392 people who were armed with knives, blades or other edged weapons — an average of about one such shooting every four days — according to the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings.
At least 102 of those cases, including the shooting of Schultz, occurred in 2017.
Fatal shootings of people armed with knives account for about 14 percent of the nearly 2,700 deadly police shootings tracked by The Post since the beginning of 2015.
Officers from Georgia Tech’s campus police force encountered Schultz, a computer engineering student, in a parking lot outside a dormitory, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Schultz wasn’t holding a gun in video captured from a window above the parking lot shortly before midnight, as the campus was placed on lockdown.
Stewart, the attorney, said Schultz was shot once and that the bullet pierced the heart. Stewart said only one officer fired and that none of the other officers who responded from the Georgia Tech police department had been issued Tasers. A spokesman for Georgia Tech told CNN that campus police do not carry stun guns.
“That’s baffling to me that on a college campus you’d rather give the officers the most deadly weapons and not equip them with less lethal weapons,” Stewart said, noting that Schultz’s family is hoping the death leads to reforms within the department, including better training.
Video shows officers repeatedly telling Schultz to drop the weapon as the student advances.
“Come on, man, let’s drop the knife,” an officer with his gun drawn says in the graphic video. But Schultz walks toward him.
The officer keeps backing up, moving behind a parking barricade and imploring again: “Nobody wants to hurt you, man.”
At least four officers had surrounded Schultz, according to WSB-TV. In the video, one of the officers called out to the student, who turned away from the barricade and began to move toward the new voice.
“What are we doing here?” the officer asked. No reply.
“Do not move!”
“Drop it!” someone said finally, as Schultz takes three more steps toward an officer, followed by the report of a gunshot and many screams. Schultz died Sunday at an Atlanta hospital.
While the state’s investigative bureau referred to Schultz as a male — “Scott Schultz” — the student and the student’s family used the pronoun “them,” and on the Pride Alliance website Schultz used the description “bisexual, nonbinary and intersex.”
“When I’m not running Pride or doing classwork I mostly play D&D and try to be politically active,” Schultz wrote.
Bill Schultz said recently that Scout had expressed interest in the anti-fascist political movement and frustration with news coverage of police-involved shootings.
“I will say this, that recently Scout has been slightly involved with the anti-fascist community and had expressed a number of anti-fascist ideas to me,” he said.
“I tend to think that if there was a cause it might have been anger at the police over all the shootings and all the long litany of police shootings.”
In a statement, Pride Alliance called its late president the “driving force” behind the LGBT group for the past two years.
“They pushed us to do more events and a larger variety events, and we would not be the organization we are known as without their constant hard work and dedication,” the statement reads.
“We love you Scout and we will continue to push for change.”
Scout, a fourth-year student at Georgia Tech, was born in Rockville, Md., and spent time in Iowa, Missouri and Florida before moving to the Atlanta area six years ago. Bill Schultz, a retired computer engineer, said Scout came by an interest in engineering earnestly and was scheduled to graduate a semester early.
“Scout was definitely a chip off the old block,” he said.
Both parents remembered well the time that Scout came out to them.
“It wasn’t a shock because we’re welcoming and loving parents,” Bill Schultz said. “It shouldn’t have been hard for Scout to come out but I think there were some issues involved there which is why they did a session in therapy.”
Lynne Schultz said that any of Scout’s mental health issues appeared to have been resolved and that friends had told them that Scout seemed fine in recent weeks.
“We had no clue that there was an issue in the last four weeks,” she said.
Lynne Schultz said that they have received an outpouring of support from members of the community and that more than 30 friends showed up to the hospital in the middle of the night when Scout was shot.
“Scout had a lot more friends than I realized,” she said.
Bill Schultz said Scout was “all justice for everyone. Now, we have to seek justice for Scout.”
“We’re proud of them for standing up for what they believe in,” Lynne Schultz said.