ATLANTA (Reuters) - Violent clashes erupted overnight between police and protesters after a memorial vigil for a Georgia Tech student killed by campus officers, and the school’s president on Tuesday blamed the unrest on “outside agitators.”
The clashes at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta broke out when several dozen of the almost 500 people who had attended the vigil for slain student Scout Schultz faced off with officers at the campus police headquarters, the school said.
Two Georgia Tech officers were injured and a police car was damaged, the school said in a statement. Images of a police vehicle burning were posted online by multiple local media outlets.
University President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said in a letter on Tuesday to student, faculty and staff that people at the vigil had been joined by others bent on inciting violence.
“We believe many of them were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the event. They certainly did not honor Scout’s memory nor represent our values by doing so,” Peterson said.
Three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and battery on an officer, officials said. Only one of them is a current Georgia Tech student, the university said on Tuesday.
Schultz, a 21-year-old engineering student from Lilburn, Georgia, was shot late on Saturday after a standoff with campus police outside a dormitory. Police officials say Schultz was wielding a knife and disobeyed commands to drop it and stop walking toward officers.
The Georgia Tech shooting came as police across the country are facing protests and scrutiny over the use of deadly force. A Washington Post database shows 706 people have been shot and killed by U.S. police this year.
Schultz’ family and its attorney said the student held a multipurpose utility tool and the blade was not extended. Schultz’ parents, Lynne and William Schultz, said at a news conference on Monday that Schultz had a history of mental illness and may have been having a mental episode when shot.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Schultz left three suicide notes and had called 911 claiming to see a young man with a knife and possibly a gun on campus. No firearms were found.
Schultz’s parents and their attorney have asked why police did not use non-lethal means to subdue a young student. The parents said they plan to sue the police and university.
Reporting by Rich McKay; additional reporting by Ian Simpson