A Tennessee high school student was shot dead by police after opening fire on officers responding to reports of a gunman on campus, authorities said Monday.
David B Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told a news conference that police found the student in a bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, a town about 290 miles away. km east of Nashville. They ordered him out, but he did not comply, and that is when he allegedly opened fire, Rausch said. The police responded.
The student died at the school and an officer was injured and taken for surgery, authorities said. No one else was injured.
“It’s a sad day for Knoxville, and it’s tough for Austin-East,” said Rausch.
Asked about the police’s overwhelming response to a call they received just before the afternoon dismissal, Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said, “We have a student, a school incident. He’s our worst fear, an active school shooter.
The shooting comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which has reduced the number of mass murders in the United States. The country has seen a spate of mass shootings in recent weeks, including eight people killed at three Atlanta-area massage companies on March 16 and 10 people killed in a Colorado supermarket on March 22.
Speaking outside a hospital, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told WATE-TV she spoke with the injured officer and he was conscious and in good spirits.
Kincannon, former chairman of the Knox County School Board, spoke at a press conference in February about gun violence that claimed the lives of three Austin-East students less than three weeks apart this year. Two of the victims were 15 years old and the other 16 years old. The shootings did not take place at the school.
“I know the school is a safe place,” Kincannon said at the time, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It’s a place where people learn… Violence issues arise in the community and it affects children when they are not in school. That is why we focus our efforts on protecting the innocent, protecting the school, protecting children, students and staff. “
Bob Thomas, the Knox County Schools Superintendent, tweeted Monday that a shooting had taken place but the building had been secured.
“The school building has been secured and the students who were not involved in the incident have been handed over to their families,” Thomas said.
He added in a separate tweet that authorities were collecting information and about “this tragic situation” and that more information would be provided later.
Police urged people to avoid the area, adding that a reunification site had been set up on a baseball field behind the school to allow students to reunite with their families.
Last week, the Republican governor approved legislation that would make Tennessee the last state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without first performing a background check and a training.
State Governor Bill Lee backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing licensing system provided an important safeguard as to who should and should not. should not carry a gun.
The law, which does not apply to long guns, will come into force on July 1. The new measure also increases certain penalties related to theft and also provides for exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.