KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (NewsNation Now) — Authorities say a student at a Knoxville, Tennessee high school fired at officers and was killed by police. A police officer was injured and is in serious condition.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David B. Rausch said at a news conference Monday that police responded to a report of a possible gunman at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville.
He says the officers encountered him in a bathroom and ordered him out but he wouldn’t comply. Rausch says that’s when he reportedly opened fire, and police fired back.
The student died at the school and an officer was wounded in the upper leg and was taken into surgery.
“It’s a sad day for Knoxville, and it’s tough for Austin-East,” Rausch said. He added that “these are the days you don’t ever want to get this phone call.”
It wasn’t yet clear why the student brought a gun to school or why he fired at officers.
Rasuch announced at the press conference they will be reviewing school cameras and officer body camera as a part of their investigation. They will also be interviewing students and school officials to determine the background for the shooting.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told NewsNation affiliate WATE she spoke to the officer who was shot, and that they are awake and in good spirits, and says the officer said he would rather this happen to him than to someone else.
“The school building is reportedly secure, and students who were not involved in the shooting have been released to their families,” said Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas.
After the building was secured, parents were able to pick up their children at a baseball field behind the high school.
The Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agency responded to the scene according to the agency.
“It’s our worst fear is an active shooter in a school. Those are our kids. Most of us our parents, those of us who aren’t, We all have a soft spot in our hearts for kids and we don’t want anything to ever happen in a school, said Knoxville PD Chief Eve Thomas.
Knox County Schools restarted in-person learning in January, but Austin-East Magnet High School went back to virtual instruction briefly in February after the spate of shooting deaths of students. The school will be closed again Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued a statement calling it a “difficult and tragic situation.”
Three students from Austin-East Magnet High School have been shot to death away from the campus less than three weeks apart this year, police said. Administrators have said students felt the arts magnet school was a safe space, according to a story in the Knoxville News Sentinel.
State Rep. 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 aid.
NewsNation affiliate WATE contributed to this report