A high school student in Knoxville was shot and killed yesterday afternoon after shooting a gun at a police officer who returned fire.
The officer was taken into surgery after being shot at least once in the upper leg, authorities said. The student, who has not been identified, died at the school.
The Knoxville Police Department said officers responded to reports of a “possibly armed” male suspect around 3:15 p.m. eastern at Austin-East High School.
Police found the student in a bathroom, Tennessee Bureau of Investigative Director David B. Rausch said at a news conference. Police ordered the student to come out, but he wouldn’t comply, and that’s when he reportedly opened fire, Raush said. Police fired back.
“Upon approach of the subject, shots were fired,” KPD wrote on Facebook. “A KPD officer was struck at least one time and transported to the UT Medical Center with injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening.”
Police said one male was pronounced deceased at the scene, while another unidentified person was detained for further investigation. There are no other known gunshot victims.
It remains unclear why the student brought a gun to school or why he fired at officers.
Speaking from outside a hospital, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said she spoke with the wounded officer and the he was conscious and in good spirits.
Multiple agencies were at the scene of the shooting in Austin-East Magnet High School, according to police.
Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it was assisting the Knoxville Police Department.
Police later said a reunification site had been established at the baseball field behind the high school near Wilson and S. Hembree.
Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox County Schools, tweeted yesterday a shooting had occurred but the building had been secured and students who were not involved have been released to their families.
Police urged people to avoid the area. News outlets showed numerous police and emergency vehicles at the scene.
“As details continue to emerge, our thoughts are with Austin East Magnet High School and those school community members who have been affected by the shooting that took place this afternoon,” the Tennessee Department of Education tweeted. “The department stands ready to support.
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said she was “heartbroken” to have heard about the shooting, saying that her office has been briefed and she is “praying for the community, including the officer injured in the line of duty.”
Tennessee State Representative Sam McKenzie, who represents the district and went to the school, said in a statement, “I am at a loss to describe my sadness as yet another horrific act of gun violence has happened in my community,” urging the community to “reclaim the sanctity of our beloved neighborhood.”
“This is the fourth unnecessary shooting involving the Austin East community this year and we must make sure we take every step and make every effort to prevent these tragedies from continuing to occur,” McKenzie said.
The school was the subject of media reports in February after three students were shot to death over a three-week span. Those earlier shootings did not take place in the school, and administrators at the time said students felt the arts magnet school was a safe space.