Officer Adam Willson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Officer Adam Willson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
officer adam wilson

Knoxville Police Department

Knoxville Police Officer Adam Wilson.

Adam Willson was identified as the school resource officer who was shot during an officer-involved shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, according to KPD officers announced.

Willson was one of the Knoxville Police Officers called to the high school after they received a report of an armed male at the school. Investigators did not immediately say whether the injured officer was the one who shot the suspect, who died on the scene.

Willson is married, and his wife was with him at the hospital where he was taken for emergency surgery and further treatment, according to WATE.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Officer Willson Said He Would Rather This Happened to Him Than Someone Else

Mayor Indya Kincannon spoke to Officer Willson at the hospital. He said he was glad he was the one injured in place of someone else, Kincannon told 6 News.

“I said ‘thank you for acting so courageously to protect the people inside the school’ and he said he’d rather it be him that hurt than anyone inside the school.,” Kincannon told the news outlet.

“Breaks my heart this is happening and my thoughts and prayers are with everybody affected particularly those in and around the Austin-East community,” Kincannon added. “They’ve been through a lot.”

Kristen Gallant of WATE wrote on Twitter that Willson was in good spirits, and that his wife was with him in the hospital.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch said during a Monday evening press conference he was the chief of Knoxville Police Department for years, and that the community is close to his heart.

“You don’t ever want to get this phone call,” he said.

“I’ve spent a lot time here in this community, spent a lot of time working at Austin-East,” he said, adding he has great memories from his times there.

“My prayer is that the community will come together. Don’t let this be divisive,” he said.

2. Officer Willson Was Shot in the Hip & Had Emergency Surgery in the Hours After the Shooting

Officer Willson was shot in the hip and rushed to UT Medical Center, where he was undergoing emergency surgery in the hours after the shooting. He was in serious condition Monday night, Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said during a press conference.

She said at the time she hoped to speak with him when he was out of surgery.

Thomas recalled the moment she received the call.

“It was just very chilling, first of all, to hear we have an officer down, and secondly that it was at a school,” she said.

“Our worst fear is an active shooter in a school. Those are our kids,” she added.

When children return to school Thursday, she said she wants the students and parents to feel safe.

“We want kids in school. We want them in a good learning environment. We want them in a safe learning environment, and we will do everything we can do to make sure that happens,” she said.

Many police departments contacted KPD, offering their support. She said she appreciated the support, adding she and Willson have worked together for years.

3. Students Shared Video & Live Updates on Social Media From the School

Social media posts showed the chaos at the school in the moments after the shooting and the fear students felt when they heard gunfire outside their classrooms.

“Gunshots in the school!!!” Monet Jackson wrote on Facebook.

One person responded in a comment, asking her where she was.

“Under a desk,” she answered.

“Stay under that desk,” the person responded.

Jackson later filmed a seven-second video through 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.

After the scene was contained, Crystal Floyd sent some comfort to the girl.

“I’m so proud of you for staying safe and calm, sweet girl,” she wrote in a comment on a separate post. “Sending much love.”

4. The Officer-Involved Shooting Happened During the Kickoff for Youth Violence Prevention Week

Knoxville was among the cities participating in National Youth Violence Prevention Week, calling for an end to violence in communities across the United States. The kickoff occurred in the wake of shootings that left four teens dead in the Knoxville Area in 2021, according to Knox News.

The Knoxville City Council approved $1 million to help pay for violence prevention in the weeks after the shootings. The city’s contract with anti-violence group Cities United was approved a week before the Austin-East shooting.

“Many applauded the first steps but say much more is needed to combat systemic issues like poverty and unequal education and economic opportunities that disproportionately harm people of color and low-income residents,” Knox News reported.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch addressed the timing with the Youth Violence Prevention Week during a Monday evening press conference.

“It’s a tough way to start off a week that you’re trying to keep people safe,” he said.

He said the community was banding together over the weekend and unifying to end gun violence.

“We need more of that, and less of this,” he said, referring to the shooting.

5. Tennessee Lawmakers & Locals Wrote About Their Shock & Heartbreak on Social Media

Governor Bill Lee described the incident as “difficult and tragic” during a press conference shortly after the shooting. He asked for those listening “to pray for the families and the victims that may be affected by that in the state.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn also wrote a statement in response to the shooting, writing on Twitter that she was “heartbroken.”

“I am heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville,” she wrote. “My office has been briefed on the situation and I am praying for the community, including the officer injured in the line of duty.”

“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.