Heritage High School shooter gets early parole

T.J. Solomon

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T.J. Solomon

A man convicted of shooting up a Rockdale County high school at age 15 is expected to get out of prison July 26, officials said Thursday.

T.J. Solomon spent more than half of his life in prison after he was convicted of wounding six students when he opened fire in a crowded lobby at Heritage High School in 1999. No one was killed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

After shooting the six students and hitting two others’ book bags, Solomon held the revolver to his mouth before surrendering to then-assistant principal Cecil Brinkley.

The school shooting happened less than a month after the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

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Solomon had hidden his stepfather’s .22-caliber rifle and a 357-caliber Magnum handgun in baggy jeans.

In 2000, Solomon was convicted and sentenced to 40 years after his lawyers said he was mentally ill.

Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation later reduced his sentence to one 20-year term on aggravated assault charges, cutting the original sentence in half. The then-teenager became eligible for parole in 2006.

Psychiatric probation ordered

But Nation added an unusual period of “psychiatric probation,” which requires Solomon to undergo mental health treatment for another 20 years after his release from prison.

Defense attorney Ed Garland said at the time it was the first time he was aware of a psychiatric probation of that kind being applied in Georgia.

“This is brilliantly innovative,” Garland told The AJC in 2001. “I hope what he’s done is considered by other judges who sentence people who are guilty but mentally ill.”

Nation told The AJC in 2002 he values fundamental fairness most.

“I think it’d be great when I get through to look back (and) for someone to say, ‘You know, Old Judge Nation was tough, but I was a drunk, and he straightened me out,’ ” Nation said. “If you can change a life, that’s what you want to be remembered for.”

A good candidate for parole success

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles released a statement saying Solomon demonstrated a clear record of rehabilitation, including a successful work release program.

“His release is compatible with the welfare of society,” the statement said.

Solomon will remain under community supervision through May 19, 2019, and then for an additional 20-year probation sentence in which special conditions dictate he be placed on voice recognition monitoring, spokesman for Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles Steve Hayes said.

Additionally, Solomon will be prohibited from being on the grounds of any public school system in Georgia and prohibited from contacting any of the victims.

When Solomon is released, he will have served 17 years and two months of the 20-year prison sentence.

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