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‘It was a blur’: Teachers, students recall 2021 Arlington school shooting as trial begins

Families are addressed by an unidentified person at center, as they wait to be reunited with their children at the Mansfield ISD Center For The Performing Arts, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Mansfield, Texas, following a school shooting at Timberview High School in Arlington.
Tony Gutierrez
The Gorditas Mi Durango food truck sits on 28th Street.

The trial of an accused Arlington school shooter is set to resume Tuesday, a day after harrowing testimony from teachers and students that recalled the moments the teen allegedly opened fire inside a classroom in 2021.

Timothy Simpkins, 18, faces three charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault for allegedly shooting three people inside Timberview High School on Oct. 6, 2021.

“Everybody just started to run,” Pariesa Altman, who taught Simpkins’ 9 a.m. English class, said from the witness stand Monday. “It was a blur. As soon as I heard it, I feel like I took off running, but it was like slow motion.”

According to Arlington police and witness testimony, Simpkins was involved in a physical altercation with another male student prior to the shooting. Altman testified that the fight broke out when she let another student, 15-year-old Zacchaeus Selby, into the classroom.

Upon entering, Selby dropped his bag and made a beeline for Simpkins, Altman said.

“I pressed the panic button and the receptionist came on and I was trying to call for help but she couldn’t hear me,” she said. “So at this point, they’re still fighting and I didn't know what else to do, so I just opened the door and I started to yell for help.”

Altman said a few other staff members heard her shouting and came to assist, while a group of students gathered.

Simpkins’ classmate, Caden Obholz, testified that he was inside the classroom while Altman remained at the door trying to keep other students from entering the room.

Defense attorneys, who are expected to argue Simpkins was being bullied at the time of the shooting, pressed Obholz for details about what happened during the fight before the shooting. He said Selby slammed Simpkins against a bookshelf, knocked him to the ground and “curb stomped” him.

Teachers arrived to break up the fight. That’s when Obholz said Simpkins opened fire.

“I saw [Simpkins] reach into his waistband or look down and pulled the gun out and shot,” Obholz said.

From her vantage point in the doorway of the classroom, Altman said she heard another teacher yell that there was a gun, followed by four to six gunshots.

Police said Simpkins initially fled the school, but turned himself in hours after the shooting.

Three people were shot: 15-year-old Selby was taken to a hospital in critical condition, 25-year-old teacher Calvin Pettit was hospitalized and a teenage girl with a small abrasion was treated on scene.

A fourth person, a teacher who was pregnant, was injured while fleeing the scene.

All have since recovered.

Rebekah Morr is KERA's All Things Considered newscaster and producer. She came to KERA from NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as a news assistant at Weekend All Things Considered.
Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.