"Why shoot?": Family speaks out after fatal shooting of Georgia Tech student

Last Updated Sep 18, 2017 11:05 PM EDT

ATLANTA -- An investigation is underway into the fatal shooting of Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz over the weekend.

In a cellphone video, five Georgia Tech police officers, their guns drawn, can be seen surrounding a barefoot suspect they believed was carrying a gun and a knife.

A female officer can be heard yelling, "Come on, let's drop it!" and a male officer saying, "Drop it."

Schultz then responds by saying, "Shoot me," and the male officer replying, "No, drop the knife."

Schultz, 21, appeared disoriented -- and possibly suicidal.

"No one wants to hurt you man, drop the knife," the male officer was heard saying in the video.

When Schultz stepped toward police, one of them fired a single fatal shot.

Schultz, a computer engineering student with a 3.9 GPA, was a leader in Georgia Tech's LGBTQ community. Two years ago, Schultz self-identified as non-binary, meaning neither male nor female.

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Scout Schultz

CBS News

Bill Schultz, Scout's father, admits his child was fighting mental illness.

"He was kind of the soul of our family," Bill told CBS News. "His loss kinda ripped the heart out of our family."

Bill explained that Schultz did have some issues two years ago after coming out as a non-binary gender and that Schultz attempted suicide once.

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Bill Schultz

CBS News

State investigators later confirmed Schultz made the 911 call that instigated the deadly encounter. Schultz also left behind three suicide notes.

But the Schultz family -- and their lawyer Chris Stewart -- say police should have subdued the student, not killed him.

"He was not running at the officers or threatening them with a knife. He had a multipurpose tool," Stewart said.

Schultz held a multipurpose tool that had a knife folded within and Schultz had no gun.

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A look at the multipurpose tool Scout Schultz held during a fatal encounter with Georgia Tech police officers.

CBS News

When asked if Schultz's death was preventable, Bill called out the police's use of lethal force by saying, "Why shoot?"

"It was definitely preventable if the police had chosen to use non-lethal force," Bill said. "But if the only thing you give your officers is a pistol then when you think it is time to bring the incident to a close the only thing that you can do is shoot."

Georgia Tech police officers carry non-lethal weapons including pepper sprays and batons.

A vigil for Schultz was planned Monday night at a school in shock that a student was gunned down on campus by university police.

Late Monday, Georgia Tech officials urged students to stay inside after violent protests broke out on campus.

Georgia Tech tweeted an alert to the campus community to "stay inside until told otherwise" and to lock all doors and windows:

Campus officials have since announced an all clear late Monday night:

Officials from Georgia Tech told CBS News that one police vehicle was damaged and two officers were hurt with minor injuries.

"After a peaceful memorial vigil for Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz, a group of approximately 50 protesters marched to the Georgia Tech Police Department," the statement read. "One police vehicle was damaged and two officers suffered minor injuries. One officer was transported to Grady Hospital with minor injuries."

Georgia Tech said that the campus police arrested three people -- Vincent Castillenti, Jacob Wilson and Cassandra Monden -- and charged them with inciting a riot and battery of an officer.  

Officials added that the "Atlanta Police Department and Georgia State University Police Department helped restore order relatively quickly."

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.