RICE, OHIO — Authorities at Rice Community College in Ohio, just miles from Kent State, are confirming a shooting incident has occurred on the school’s campus, resulting in the death of a black man who was graduating in just a week’s time.
Sources say Anthony Griffith, 22 years old, was shot and killed by police when they responded to calls from concerned students and faculty that an armed black man had been spotted on school grounds. Griffith was an avid supporter of the Second Amendment, his friends and family have told us, and he was inspired by fellow Ohioan Kaitlin Bennett, who made national headlines this week when her own graduation photos went viral.
Ms. Bennett was seen in her photos carrying an AR-10 semiautomatic rifle and a mortar board cap with the words “Come and Take It” surrounding the silhouette of an assault rifle.
Many were outraged by the photos, especially because Bennett is graduating from and took the pictures of herself carrying the rifle on Kent State’s campus. That school was the site of one of the most famous school shooting incidents in the country’s history. Some have felt it was in extremely poor taste for Bennett to use her graduation photos in a political statement given the spate of school shootings in America that have risen over the course of the last couple of decades, and particularly in the last five years.
“Tony was a good boy,” Wilma Griffith, Tony’s mother told reporters this morning. “All he wanted to do was go and take pictures at the school with his gun, like that white girl did a few miles away from here. He was a proud American, and was extremely proud of his marksmanship skills he started to acquire as a Boy Scout.”
Rice Police Department officials say that just after 10:30 in the morning yesterday, they started receiving calls saying that Griffith was spotted with his own AR-10, just like Bennett’s. Within two minutes, RPD spokeswoman Jane Tillmore says officers were onsite and within fifteen seconds of engaging with Griffith, he was shot and killed.
“He saw our officers, and started to say something about a shoot,” Tillmore says, “and that’s when our officers opened fire. We just couldn’t take the risk that he was saying he was going to shoot one of us. And of course for good measure we shot his friend with the camera, just to be on the safe side.”
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“The incident was over and done within a matter of minutes,” Tillmore said, “and once we got on campus, a matter of seconds. That’s something we are tremendously proud of.”
Griffith’s rifle was empty, his photographer friend said, and he had only intended to get a couple of pictures on campus.
“He just wanted a picture of himself with his gun in front of the school sign, and another in front of his favorite classroom,” Tony’s photographer, who wishes to stay anonymous, told us. “I can’t believe those cops shot us without even asking us what was up.”
Tillmore says it is “unfortunate” and “sad” that Griffith lost his life over a photo shoot, but that there is still “quite a lot” for her department’s officers to be proud of.
“Sure we killed a black man we didn’t need to kill again,” Tillmore said, “but at least he was actually carrying a gun this time.”
Deputy Tillmore was asked if there was any way that Griffith could have done something differently and not been shot.
“Hmm. Unless he could go back in time and change who his parents were,” Tillmore, “I think he was always going to be the wrong shade of American to try a stunt like that.”
This story is developing.