Huffman Shooting: What we know and what we are asking

Huffman Shooting: What we know and what we are asking
Birmingham police have identified the victim in Wednesday's deadly shooting at Huffman High School as Courtlin Arrington.
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(Source: Facebook)
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A Huffman High School student is in custody in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington inside the east Birmingham school.

Police have not identified the student but issued this statement Thursday morning: "Detectives of the Birmingham Police Department have been working through the night reviewing evidence, video and statements on the tragic incident that took place at Huffman High School yesterday. Due to their diligent work a person of interest has been taken into custody. Charges are pending a review of the case by the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. Because the charges are pending we will not be releasing any information on the individual in custody. Further information will be released as it becomes available."

Was the shooting an accident?

Initially Birmingham police officials said the deadly shooting, which happened inside a classroom as school was dismissing for the day, appeared to be accidental.

"At this particular time, we consider it accidental until the investigation takes us elsewhere,'' Acting Birmingham Police Chief Orlando Wilson said. "We have a lot of unanswered questions. There are so many unknowns at this time."

We learned Thursday that the shooting was captured on video and led authorities to pursue the charges against the student.

Were metal detectors being used at the school?

Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, said Huffman High School does have working metal detectors in use but declined to comment further as it is part of the ongoing investigation.

We don't know if the metal detectors are the kind that students walk through or if they are the wand type often used in secondary inspections.

Are there cameras in the school?

Acting Birmingham Police Chief Orlando Wilson said Wednesday that there were surveillance cameras in the school.

Who was the third person that was injured?

A third person, who is not a student, was injured, but it is unknown to what extent.

What does “person of interest” mean?

A person of interest is someone the police are "interested" in during the proceedings of a criminal investigation

Terms like "suspect," "target," and "material witness" are more clearly defined, and even have formal definitions given to them by the Department of Justice. However, "person of interest" remains undefined formally. It does not show up in formal manuals like the Associated Press Stylebook, which reporters use to aid them in writing their stories, and it has never been officially defined by police, prosecutors, or journalists. The term is more of a colloquialism, rather than an official definition.

Were parents notified of a lockdown?

We have asked Adrienne Mitchell, Birmingham City Schools Strategy and Communications Officer, but have not received a clear answer. When asked if parents were notified, she referenced a recorded message sent to parents hours after the shooting. We have asked if an alert was sent to parents alerting them to a lockdown and subsequent shooting. We have not received a response to that question.

Students interviewed by WBRC said the bell rang at 3:40 p.m. and the gunshots occurred around 3:45 p.m. The school was placed on lockdown at that time.

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