2018 Huffman High School shooting
The 2018 Huffman High School shooting was a fatal incident that took place inside a classroom, after classes dismissed, at 3:45 PM on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at Huffman High School. The circumstances that led to the shooting remain unclear, but the result was the death of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington, a senior who had been accepted to nursing school.
Michael Jerome Barber, a junior wide receiver for the Huffman Vikings football team, was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg. After he was released from UAB Hospital, he was taken to Birmingham Police Headquarters for questioning. Arrington and Barber were not known to be in any kind of relationship. A school employee was also treated at the scene for a minor injury.
As the gunshots were heard, the school went on "lockdown", with students still in the building sheltering behind locked classroom doors. Police responded to the scene and recovered the gun which was used. Several potential eyewitnesses who were in the classroom at the time were interviewed, while other students were allowed to leave. Early indications suggested that the shooting may have been accidental, but further investigation led to criminal charges. Speaking to the press at the hospital, Barber's mother said she didn't believe her son owned a gun. Friends of his told reporters that he had been robbed the previous day, which may have prompted him to obtain the weapon.
Barber was held overnight by the Birmingham Police Department as a "person of interest" while investigators and prosecutors worked to determine what happened, and whether charges would be filed. Security cameras in the school hallways showed Barber showing an unidentifiable object n his pocket to two other boys. He then went into a classroom where witnesses said he teased another girl and then flashed the gun, which apparently discharged by accident, striking Arrington in the chest.
Afterward, Barber left the classroom and shot himself in the leg while attempting to return the gun to his waistband. The weapon, a Hi-Point C9 9mm Luger-type semiautomatic handgun, was recovered from the floor near where Barber was found by police in the hallway.
The high school remained closed on Thursday, March 8, allowing time for a full security sweep of the campus and for a "crisis team" made up of representatives from community organizations to begin working with those affected by emotional trauma.
On March 9 the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office announced that Barber would be charged with manslaughter and with being a minor unlawfully in possession of a handgun. He attended a preliminary hearing on April 27, where Judge Clyde Jones bound the case over to a grand jury to determine whether there was probable cause for an indictment.
According to Superintendent Lisa Herring the school has two working metal detectors, but there was no policy requiring their daily use, and they were not in use on the day of the shooting. Three school resource officers were on campus at the time.
The shooting took place during a national debate about gun violence in schools which followed a mass shooting with seventeen fatalities at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Students from that school publicly confronted politicians and gun lobbyists as they built up a national "Never Again" movement with marches and demonstrations. Several states, including Florida and Alabama, considered new gun and school security policies, combining small efforts to close loopholes allowing high-risk individuals to obtain guns with larger efforts to put more armed security officers into schools. The incident at Huffman High School was the first deadly shooting at a grade school since the Florida mass murder.
Huffman students participated in a "National School Walkout" on March 14. According to Birmingham City Schools Chief Operations Officer Troy Williams, the system is responding to the security lapse by reviewing its policies regarding the use of metal detectors and training staff in their use, adding closed-circuit cameras to cover blind spots, and adding alarms at exit doors.
Arrington's family filed a wrongful death suit in May 2018, naming the Birmingham Board of Education, Superintendent Lisa Herring, principal John Lyons Jr and the City of Birmingham as defendants, alleging that her death was caused by negligence on their part. The suit seeks punitive damages.
- Robinson, Carol (March 7, 2018) "Huffman High School shooting: Courtlin Arrington killed; Birmingham police question injured teen." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (March 8, 2018) "Huffman High School shooting: Student held in death of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington." The Birmingham News
- Hrynkiw, Ivana (March 9, 2018) "Huffman High students return after deadly school shooting despite fear and grief." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (March 9, 2018) "Huffman High School junior charged in fatal shooting of classmate Courtlin Arrington." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (March 9, 2018) "Mom, family heartbroken after daughter's promising life ended in shooting at Huffman High." The Birmingham News
- Crain, Trisha Powell (March 13, 2018) "Birmingham school district adding metal detectors after death of Huffman student." The Birmingham News
- Hrynkiw, Ivana (April 27, 2018) "Judge: Death of Huffman High student not intentional but 'extremely reckless'." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (May 15, 2018) "Wrongful death lawsuit filed in shooting death of Courtlin Arrington at Huffman High School." The Birmingham News