Teacher Reflects on Tragic Accident Involving the Death of Bloomington Teen


Andrews’ freshman yearbook picture from the 2013-2014 school year

Frances Sheets , Reporter

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, 18-year-old Anthony Andrews, known to friends as Big Byrd, was fatally shot in the neck at his friend’s home on South Camden Dr.

Andrews was a senior at Bloomington High School South, having transferred from North earlier this year.

Mr. Philbeck, North teacher, taught Andrews in his geography class from 2013-2014. He was deeply saddened to hear of the accident.

“Anthony was a great person,” Philbeck said. “He was everybody’s friend. He really brought a lot to the classroom atmosphere and he really had a way of making everybody around him feel comfortable.”

Philbeck learned of the accident last Tuesday, when another former student sent him a Facebook message saying that “something bad had happened.” A few hours later, the student messaged him again with the story.

He was accidentally shot on Tuesday afternoon around 3:00 PM, after school, by Malik Parker, 21, a friend of Andrews. The two were hanging out with a group of friends and smoking “shatter,” a butane hash oil with a high THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, or the chemical compound found in cannabis)  content.

Parker, another former North student, picked up a .22 caliber rifle, allegedly not knowing it was loaded, and shot at Andrews. The teen was hit in the neck, and collapsed in the bathroom after walking a few steps.

Another friend at the scene, a 17-year-old minor, called 911, but the responders were too late. When they arrived at 3:40 PM, Andrews was too far gone to save.

Parker was arrested, and by all accounts cooperative with police. He was taken to the Monroe County Correctional Center, and given a preliminary charge of Reckless Homicide. Parker has no prior in-state criminal record.

As a teacher, Philbeck said he took a lot of personal interest in Andrews, wanting him to realize the potential that Philbeck saw in him. Philbeck said that he can not put the feelings he had after finding out about the accident into words.

“It’s devastating anytime we lose a young person,” he said. “Someone who we’ve put time into and spent time with and that we care about. He was just a person that I really cared a lot about and I just wanted to see so much more out of him. I had a lot of hope for Anthony, because he had such a big, good heart about him.”

Philbeck also knew Parker, or at least of him, from passings in the hallway and mutual acquaintances. According to Philbeck, Parker and Andrews were friends and traveled with the same group.

The shooting, he said, was definitely an accident.

“Someone is responsible for the death of someone that they care about, and that’s a tough thing to have to live with,” Philbeck said.  

Something Philbeck feels strongly about is the way that Andrews died.

“There are things that we should or shouldn’t do in this world and one of the things that we should not do, and we all know, is to play with loaded weapons,” he said. “It’s not cool. It’s just not cool to have loaded weapons are with people around or something like this horrific tragedy can happen.”

A candlelight vigil was held for Andrews at South on Friday evening, and more than 100 people showed up to honor him. In attendance were his mother and aunt, among others.

“It’s a horrible tragedy that this mistake has happened,” Philbeck said. “This is an unnecessary thing that has happened, and I hope that other kids are looking at this and learning a lesson, and other people, not just kids, but all of us.”