KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - According to Knoxville officials, a student at Austin-East High School has been identified as the suspect and person deceased in a shooting at Austin-East High School Monday afternoon.
TBI says, around 3:15 p.m. Monday, the Knoxville Police Department responded to a report of a possibly armed person with a gun at Austin-East Magnet High School.
Upon arrival, officers located the individual inside a school restroom. TBI officials say, officers ordered the individual out, but he refused to comply.
As officers entered the restroom, the suspect reportedly fired shots, striking an officer. Officials say, one officer returned fire.
The suspect identified as an Austin-East High School student was pronounced dead at the scene. No information has been released if the returned fire struck the student.
The officer who was shot was taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center with a leg injury where he was last listed in serious condition and in surgery.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon confirmed she met with the officer who was conscious and alert, “He’d rather he be hurt than anyone else and he’s in very good spirits.”
Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said it was chilling to learn an officer had been hit and that it had happened at a school. She said the school was initially placed on lockdown while officers ascertained who was involved. She said officers then worked to reunite students with their loved ones.
KPD says, multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the incident including Knoxville Fire Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Nashville (ATF Nashville) and TBI.
“ATF will be working with the Knoxville PD as well as focusing on the tracing of firearms and the recovery of shell cases which will be entered into NIBIN to see if there are any connections to previous shootings,” said ATF in a statement.
Following the shooting, Knox Co. Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas notified the public regarding the school building being secured.
“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.
Thomas says Austin-East will have counselors available at the school on Tuesday, April 13.
Mayor Kincannon commended Austin-East School staff for their work to protect students. She also praised the officer who was shot on the scene for risking his life for the safety of the students.
“We all need to work together to stop the violence,” Kincannon said. “It’s a big challenge and we’re going to need the whole city to work together.”
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs released a statement expressing his condolences:
“I am as troubled and frustrated about this as everyone else. I want to thank the officer for risking his life to protect everyone in the school and encourage everyone to remember how hard these last few months have been on our Austin-East families. I also want to reiterate that my office is committed to working with the city, KPD, KCSO and KCS to find solutions to these tragic situations.”
Governor Bill Lee asked Tennesseans to ‘pray for the families and victims,” impacted by the shooting.
Four teenage Austin-East High School students have been killed as the result of multiple shootings in Knoxville since the beginning of 2021. Here is a timeline of events:
- On March 9, 15-year-old Jamarion Gillette died in a shooting. Police said he had been missing since October.
- On Feb. 16, a 15-year-old Austin-East student was shot and killed near a home on Selma Ave.
- On Feb. 12, a 16-year-old Austin-East student was fatally shot as he was driving home from school.
- On January 27, a 15-year-old was shot and killed from the backseat of a car in Northeast Knoxville.
A suspect was arrested and charged in the January shooting, but no other suspects have been identified and no charges have been filed in relation to the other shootings.