Responding to reports of a school shooter in Tennessee, police responded to the scene and came upon a lone gunman. When the latter fired at police officers who asked him to come out, police shot back and killed the shooter. An officer sustained injuries during the shootout.
Police Prevented a School Shooting
On Monday, Knoxville Police Department officers responded to a report of a possibly armed suspect inside Austin-East Magnet High School. Officers who arrived at the scene found the suspect in a school bathroom. After refusing requests to come out, the shooter opened fire when police officers tried to enter the bathroom.
An officer returned fire and hit the school shooter. When the smoke cleared, the shooter, a high school student, lay dead at the scene. The officer sustained injuries and went to the hospital for treatment after the gun battle.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch clarified that the incident is not a school shooting. “This wasn’t a school shooting, this was an officer-involved shooting inside of a school. Much different. The student hadn’t done anything with the firearm until the officers engaged. So it’s not a school shooting,” he said. “It’s our worst fear, an active shooter in a school,” Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas added.
By late Monday afternoon, police officers managed to secure the Austin-East Magnet High School building. Bob Thomas, superintendent of Knox County Schools reported that students were safe with their families. In addition, Police set up a reunification site at the school baseball field.
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Meanwhile, the injured officer remains conscious and in good spirits, according to Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told reporters. As for the shooter, it remains unclear why the school shooter brought a gun to school or why he fired at officers.
In the meantime, classes will remain suspended for at least the next two days to allow students to recover from the incident. Thomas said counselors will be available at the school for students who need assistance. Thomas said he will decide later about the rest of the week’s classes. “We are all devastated by this tragedy,” he said.
Officer A Hero
The injured and yet-unnamed officer is conscious and is going to be OK, according to Mayor Kincannon. She said she spoke with him and he was in good spirits. “I thanked him for putting his life on the line to protect the students and staff at the school, and he said he’d rather he be hurt than anybody else,” the mayor said.
The Knoxville Fire Department said they trained for these kinds of incidents. Fire Department Captain Corcoran said that the department co-trained with the KPD’s SWAT team for incidents like this. This includes “entering into a potential hot zone where it’s unknown if there is still an active shooter on the loose,” which is what happened in this case.
“Unfortunately that training was used today when responding to Austin East high school. As far as our response to the incident, it was a successful one,” Corcoran noted.
Knoxville’s Spate of Incidents
Monday’s shooting is the latest in a series of teen-related violence in Knoxville. Earlier this year, three Austin-East students died in less than three weeks. Two of the victims were 15, and the other was 16. Police have yet to connect this latest incident to the previous shootings. According to Scott Erland, KPD public information officer, police don’t have evidence to suggest the connection between the incidents.
Watch the CNBC news video reporting that at least 1 dead, officer injured from a school shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee:
Given the recent spate of teen violence, what do you think students of Austin-east high school need right now?
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