‘Another horrific act of gun violence’: One dead, officer injured in high school shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee

One person was killed and a police officer was injured when gunfire erupted Monday at a high school in Knoxville in eastern Tennessee, officials said.

Police officers were responding to reports of a possible armed man when a confrontation occurred at Austin-East Magnet High School, authorities said.

No one else was killed or wounded, police said, adding that the scene had been secured at the school. Authorities said only that a male was deceased and another person was detained. 

Police said they responded to the school around 3:15 p.m. when they encountered a male with a gun. “Upon approach of the subject, shots were fired,” Knoxville Police Department posted on Facebook. “A Knoxville Police officer was struck at least one time and transported to the hospital with injuries that are not expected to be life-threatening.”

The department originally tweeted that authorities were at the site of the shooting at the school and “multiple gunshot victims” were reported, “including a KPD officer.” 

A student and a police officer were shot at the school, a source with direct knowledge of the situation who is not authorized to speak told the Knoxville News Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. 

The officer who was shot is the school’s resource officer, and he was shot in the hip and is undergoing surgery, the source said. 

Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox County Schools, also tweeted that a shooting had occurred but the building was secured.

“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said. He added in a separate tweet that authorities were gathering information and about “this tragic situation.” 

Police and emergency workers flooded the neighborhood around 3 p.m. and blocked off access to the school and parts of the neighborhood.

Multiple agencies are on the scene of a shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School. Multiple gunshot victims reported, including a KPD officer. The investigation remains active at this time. Please avoid the area. pic.twitter.com/ViQirnQSpx

Knox County Schools has established a reunification site for parents to connect with their children who attend the school.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said agents have gone to the school.

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.”

Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed off on legislation last week that would make Tennessee the latest state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without first clearing a background check and training. Lee backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing permit system provided an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.

The law, which does not apply to long guns, will take effect July 1.

The shooting comes amid a flurry of other high-profile incidents of gun violence, including mass shootings in Boulder, Colorado, the Atlanta area and Orange, California.  

In recent months, the shooting deaths of four Knoxville teens have become the rallying cry for community members pushing for an end to gun violence. 

Justin Taylor, a 15-year-old Austin-East student, died Jan. 27 after police say a 17-year-old boy accidentally shot him while they both were inside a car. Investigators quickly arrested the 17-year-old on a charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Another teenager, 16-year-old Stanley Freeman Jr., was fatally shot on Tarleton Avenue while driving home from school on Feb. 12. Two boys, 14 and 16, have been charged with fatally shooting him. 

Janaria Muhammad, a 15-year-old freshman at Austin-East, was found shot outside the home where she lived on Feb. 16.

Jamarion “Lil Dada” Gillette, 15, died after being shot March 9. A woman found him wounded on Cherokee Trail in South Knoxville, near the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and took the teen to that hospital. He died there early on March 10.

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