ARLINGTON (CBSNewsTexas.com) — On Monday, several teachers and a former student recalled running for their lives from an Arlington high school classroom after a teenager started shooting in October 2021.
Timothy Simpkins, now 19, sat quietly as witnesses recalled seeing him pull a gun from his waistband before shooting in the direction of another teenager—hitting two other people in the process.
Simpkins' defense team is arguing he acted in self-defense, and that the shooting was not attempted capital murder as alleged by prosecutors.
Assistant district attorneys Lloyd Welchel and Rose Anna Salinas opened their case against Simpkins, trying to demonstrate the widespread fear caused by the shooting, which occurred just 15 minutes after classes had started at Timberview High School.
They played a 911 call with a teacher whispering to the dispatcher as she hid in a classroom; showed a video of a parent cursing at an officer who wouldn't let her past a roadblock; and body camera video of heavily armed police officers inside school hallways.
Pareisa Altman was the teacher who first called for help that day after opening the door for another student, Zacchaeus Selby.
Selby was late to class, but then immediately attacked Simpkins.
"It was like they knew they were going to fight," Altman said. "Zach went to Timothy and started hitting him."
Her voice faltered as she recalled pressing a panic button for help, but the person on the other end of the line couldn't hear her.
Altman's screams brought other teachers to the room, including Sarah Herrera, who described the fight as violent enough that she needed to intervene to stop serious injury.
"I pushed the other kid up against the bookshelf, and after I did that, he's kind like, 'I'm done, I'm done,'" Herrera said.
Simpkins' team repeatedly questioned teachers about the ferocity of the fight, and the very real possibility he could have feared for his life.
However, prosecutors keyed in on the fact that the fight was stopped, and there was no further apparent danger to Simpkins at that point.
English teacher Calvin Pettit, who also went to the room to help that day, testified that he turned to run when he saw Simpkins had a gun.
Pettit fell in the doorway, only realizing later that he had been hit in the shoulder by a bullet. The projectile is still in his body, he said, one millimeter away from his heart.
After months of recovery, Pettit tried to return to school to teach. The attempt only lasted three weeks before he had to resume medical leave for the post traumatic stress he was and is still experiencing.
Altman also said she had not been able to return to work since the incident.
A former student who was in the classroom, Caden Objoiz, testified he left school, unable to shake the memory of what he witnessed.
"I felt the bullet go right by me, and I'm going to guess that was the bullet that hit the girl," he said, referring to another student who was grazed by a shot.
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