Anthony J. Thompson Jr. was identified by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as the Austin-East Magnet High School student in Knoxville, Tennessee, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting. A Knoxville Police, Adam Willson, officer was also injured. Thompson was 17.
Law enforcement from multiple departments were called to the school at about 3:15 p.m. Monday, April 12, after the report of an officer-involved shooting, according to the Knoxville Police Department. A preliminary investigation indicated police were responding to the report of an armed male in the school, and a gunfight broke out.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Said Thompson Was Armed in the School & a Gunfight Broke Out When Officers Approached Him
— Knoxville Police TN (@Knoxville_PD) April 12, 2021
Police said Thompson allegedly brought a gun into the school, where officers were called for reports of an armed student. They found Thompson in the bathroom at the school, and ordered him out, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch said during a Monday evening press conference. He allegedly refused to come out, instead firing shots at police. Officers returned fire, and Thompson was fatally shot, Rausch said. One of the responding officers was shot in the hip.
Rausch said they are reviewing footage from body cams and school security footage, in addition to interviewing potential witnesses.
Early investigation results indicated that police were called to the scene at the high school for a report of a male with a gun, which resulted in shots fired when police approached the suspect.
“Based on the preliminary investigation, Knoxville Police Department Officers responded to Austin-East Magnet High School on the report of a male suspect who was possibly armed in the school. Upon the approach of the suspect, shots were fired,” the Knoxville Police Department said in a statement.
Police did not identified the suspect or victims at the time. They said only that a teenage boy was killed, an officer was injured, and another male was detained for questioning.
2. Students Shared Video & Live Updates on Social Media From the School
Some students quickly took to social media in the moments after the shooting.
“Gunshots in the school!!!” Monet Jackson wrote on Facebook.
A comment asked where she was.
“Under a desk,” she answered.
“Stay under that desk,” the person responded.
“I’m so proud of you for staying safe and calm, sweet girl,” Crystal Floyd wrote in a comment on a separate post. “Sending much love.”
She later shared a seven-second video filmed from a window, which showed a person in uniform sprinting across the lawn followed by a person in slacks and a dress shirt.
“The shots was literally outside my classroom in the hallway,” she wrote.
Another video showed crime scene tape and confusion in the hallway. She wrote that she could smell blood.
3. Thompson Was a 17-Year-Old Student at Austin-East High School When He Was Fatally Shot After Police Said He Brought a Gun Into the School
And just like that, school resumes as do school shootings: lockdown at Austin-East Magnet High School in Tennessee. https://t.co/dWkD2TvKpx
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) April 12, 2021
Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Raush expressed sympathy to the family of the deceased student during a Monday evening press conference.
“What a sad day,” he said.
Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas also said the department was sending prayers to the family of the deceased student.
The Knoxville Police Officer who was injured in the shooting is expected to survive his injuries, Knoxville Police Department said in a statement. A male was pronounced dead, and another male was taken into custody for questioning.
“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,” the statement said. “One male was pronounced deceased at the scene, while another was detained for further investigation. There are no other known gunshot victims.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation, which is standard protocol for officer-involved shootings in Tennessee.
Knox County Schools is responding to a shooting that occurred this afternoon at Austin-East Magnet High School. We are gathering information about this tragic situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible.
Superintendent Bob Thomas also provided updates on his Twitter account shortly after the shooting.
“Knox County Schools is responding to a shooting that occurred this afternoon at Austin-East Magnet High School. We are gathering information about this tragic situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible,” he wrote.
“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas wrote in an update.
The Tennessee Department of Education expressed their sympathy to those involved and said mental health services would be provided.
“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 department stands ready to support,” they wrote on Twitter. “District and school leaders, staff, and educators can access the Emotional Support Line for free and confidential mental health support via call or text. Access the line at 888-642-7886 from 6 a.m.- 10 p.m. CT / 7 a.m.- 11 p.m. ET daily.”
Knoxville Police said a reunification center was set up at the baseball field near the high school.
4. Public Officials & Knoxville Residents Expressed Shock Over the Shooting at the High School
A reunification site has been established at the baseball field behind Austin-East High School near Wilson and S. Hembree. https://t.co/zmQGzwb6cO
— Knoxville Police TN (@Knoxville_PD) April 12, 2021
“Numb,” Corey L. Hodge wrote on Facebook. “Connected to the school or not, keep Austin East in consistent prayers. Check on anyone you know that attends or is of faculty. Now.”
Comments from friends said they were praying and checking on their loved ones.
“Numb is the right word. Stunned and in disbelief right now,” one person wrote in the comments.
Governor Bill Lee held a pre-scheduled press conference soon after the shooting, and opened his statements by speaking briefly about the shooting. He said he was briefed on the incident and had limited information early in the investigation, but asked that the victims and community be kept in prayers.
Both in-person and remote learning was cancelled at the school for Tuesday and Wednesday. The school was scheduled to reopen Thursday, Knox News reported.
5. Four Knoxville Teens Have Been Killed in Recent Months in Shootings & Residents Are Calling for an End to Gun Violence
Several people were shot, including a Knoxville police officer, at a Tennessee high school on Monday afternoon, the authorities said. The conditions of the victims were not immediately known. https://t.co/7MzKhvc6Ha
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 12, 2021
Knox News reported that four Knoxville teens have been killed as a result of gun violence in recent months, leading to a public outcry to stop the violence.
Austin-East student Justin Taylor, 15, was killed after police said a 17-year-old boy shot him accidentally while they were both inside a car January 27. The 17-year-old was arrested on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
There are still a lot of unknowns regarding the shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School.
But as the news comes in, remember these are kids having to deal with this. Kids who have already mourned the loss of 4 friends to gun violence this year.
Give them grace.
— Shannon Smith WBIR (@ShannonSmithTV) April 12, 2021
Stanley Freeman Jr., 16, was fatally shot on Tarleton Avenue while he was driving home after school on February 12. Two teenage boys, ages 14 and 16, were arrested and charged with killing him.
Janaria Muhammad, 15, a freshman at Austin-East, was found shot to death outside the home where she lived February 16.
Jamarion “Lil Dada” Gillette, 15, was shot March 9. A woman found him wounded on the Cherokee Trail in South Knoxville and took him to the hospital, where he died the next day.
No arrests have been made in the deaths of Muhammad or Gillette.