Georgia Tech administrators and student leaders scrambled Tuesday to respond to Monday’s campus vigil that turned into a violent protest that injured a campus police officer.
Tech’s president, G.P. “Bud” Peterson, scrapped an appearance with Gov. Nathan Deal and Honeywell officials Tuesday morning to send a letter to students, faculty, employees and others accusing “outside agitators” of causing the problems. He said they purposely worked to roil the vigil for Scout Schultz, 21, a fourth-year student shot and killed late Saturday in a confrontation with campus police.
Georgia Tech has placed Tyler Beck, the officer who shot Schultz, on paid leave, pending a state investigation into the shooting.
A police car was set ablaze during the protest. Three people were arrested.
“We believe many of them were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the event,” Peterson wrote. “They certainly did not honor Scout’s memory nor represent our values by doing so.”
The protest frightened many students on the Midtown campus, which is not accustomed to such scenes. Tech sent several alerts Monday night urging students to stay where they were.
“It was scary because it’s never hit so close to home,” said Sarat E. Lawal, 20, a fourth-year materials science and engineering student.
Wren Howell, a third-year media computation student, said he and other students stayed put in another building on campus until officials sent word the campus was safe.
Georgia Tech police arrested three people: Vincent Castillenti, 31, of Decatur; Jacob Wilson, 22, of Atlanta, and Andrew Monden, 20, of Marietta, a Georgia Tech student.
Castillenti was charged with felonies including aggravated assault on an officer, along with willful obstruction of an officer by use of threats or violence.
Wilson was charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault against a police officer, and three misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass. Wilson’s arrest warrant alleges that he hit an officer and knocked him to the ground, causing a concussion, and spray-painted “cop murder” on the street outside the campus police headquarters.
Monden, who registered and is still listed by Georgia Tech as Cassandra Monden, jumped up and down on a police vehicle and attempted to smash the front windshield, according to an arrest warrant. Others at the protest tried to jump an officer to give Monden time to flee, but he was arrested, according to campus police.
The three are expected in court for first-appearance hearings Wednesday morning.
Tech has referred questions about the shooting to the GBI. Peterson asked in his letter for everyone “not to draw conclusions too quickly” about it.
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Flowers lay at the parking deck where Schultz, an engineering student and president of Tech’s Pride Alliance, was shot. The shooting and subsequent unrest remained the talk of the 25,000-student campus, along with upcoming exams. Many students walked the campus in business attire Tuesday for career day.
Lawal, a transfer student from Kennesaw State, said many students were looking for the most appropriate way to express their grief. Most students she’s talked to believe Beck didn’t have to shoot Schultz.
Some Tech students took it upon themselves to find an outlet to share their feelings.
A group of students set up tables near the site of Monday’s vigil, where classmates wrote messages of support to Schultz’s family and for campus police. Some messages included “Praying for you in your time of loss” and “We love (Georgia Tech police). I’m sorry we failed you.”
Maggie Kelley, 23, a fifth-year public policy major, was one of the students who organized the effort.
“I felt invaded. Disrespected,” Kelley said of those who involved in the violence Monday. “I think that’s the general consensus because what was meant for closure was not that.”
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