This week, students across the nation participated in a walkout to remember the 17 people killed during a February mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, and demand politicians do something to prevent it from happening again.
While many honored the victims with 17 minutes of silence, there’s one school shooting victim whose death has gone virtually overlooked.
Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old senior, was fatally shot on March 7 at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama. Though authorities initially said her death was an accident, a fellow student was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
“The last thing I told them was ‘I love you’ and have a blessed day at school,” Courtlin’s mom, Tynesha Tatum, told the Birmingham News. That morning, she sent her three children off to Huffman High School, but only two came home later that day. “That was at 7:45 a.m…At 3:45 p.m., I got a call that my baby got shot.”
Though the story and investigation into Courtlin Arrington’s death is still unfolding, here are four things we know so far.
Arrington’s classmate has been charged with manslaughter
Michael Jerome Barber, a 17-year-old junior at Huffman High School, has been charged with felony manslaughter. Though the shooting was initially thought to be an accident, video surveillance and witness statements led officials to believe it was not. Barber, who plays on the school’s football team, also suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg during the incident. Investigators are still searching for a motive for the shooting and Arrington’s family insists she didn’t know Barber.
She was extremely close to her family
Arrington had two siblings, an older sister and younger brother, and was extremely close to her mother. "We were two peas in a pod. You see me, you see her,'' her mother told the Birmingham News. "I got up in the morning and jumped in her bed and kissed on her face."
Her father is heartbroken about the loss of his only child. "Her father had just ordered her prom dress online,” her grandfather, Zach Arrington, said. “She was his only child. She was his hope. When your hope is gone, what do you have?"
She dreamed of becoming a nurse
With only a few months left until graduation in May, Arrington had already been accepted to college and planned to study to be a nurse. "She had her mind made up that's exactly what she wanted to be, and she was going straight to it,'' Zach Arrington said. Her mother agreed. "Whatever she put her mind to, that's what she was going to do.”
Huffman High School students participated in National Walkout Day to remember Arrington
While Arrington’s story has flown under the national radar, her fellow classmates aren’t letting her death go unnoticed. On Wednesday, dozens of Huffman High School students walked out of class to remember their fallen classmate and demand change.
“Seeing something happen like that on TV is one thing, and your heart goes out,” senior DeCarlos Bates said. “But it really opens up your eyes when it happens close to home."
Courtlin Arrington will be laid to rest on March 24 at Guiding Light Church.