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Knoxville Officer Shot When Student Fired Gun Wasn’t Hit By Student’s Weapon

Knoxville, TN – Officials revealed on Wednesday afternoon that the Knoxville police officer who was wounded by gunfire at Austin-East High School was not shot by the student who ended up being killed.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) updated reporters on April 14 on the preliminary results of the investigation into the officer-involved shooting that left 17-year-old Anthony Thompson Jr. dead in the high school’s bathroom, the Associated Press reported.

The second statement released by the TBI revised its earlier statement that said the school resource officer (SRO), Knoxville Police Department (KPD) Officer Adam Willson, had been shot by Thompson.

“Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD officer was not fired from the student’s handgun,” the TBI said.

Authorities say that Thompson’s gun was fired, and officers responded by shooting two times, the Associated Press reported.

TBI refused to answer questions from reporters about whether Officer Willson had been shot by a fellow officer.

“This is why our agency uses terms in our releases such as ‘preliminary,’ ‘possibly,’ and ‘reportedly,'” TBI explained. “This update provides clarification to the initial information released on this case.”

Police have not said how many people were in the bathroom when the shooting occurred or how many officers fired their weapons, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

Community members are demanding that police release bodycam and surveillance videos from the shooting.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon asked Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen to release the bodycam on Wednesday, WATE reported.

Allen said no.

“General Allen explained that she made this decision in order to maintain the integrity of the on-going investigation and to protect the constitutional rights of anyone who might be charged as a result of this investigation,” Kincannon told activists, and vowed to keep pushing for transparency in the investigation, WATE reported.

After the bodycam wasn’t released, a law firm representing the officers involved released a statement calling for the video to be released.

“In an effort to accurately inform the public, all three officers fully support the release of all unedited body camera footage related to this incident,” the statement aid, according to Knoxville News Sentinel. “As Mayor Kincannon has publicly expressed, she, along with these officers, agree that the public interest is best served by the immediate release of these videos.”

Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas has also called for the release of the video.

However, Allen has continued to insist that the video won’t be released until the investigation is complete and she has made a charging decision.

The officer-involved shooting occurred at about 3:15 p.m. on April 12 after Knoxville police responded to the arts high school for a report of a student holed up in a restroom with a gun, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

TBI Director David Rausch originally said that the student started shooting as soon as officers entered the bathroom.

Officers fired twice and the armed student was killed in the exchange.

The officer was transported to University of Tennessee Medical Center and taken into surgery.

Multiple law enforcement agencies including TBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the scene to assist after the shootings.

TBI will be heading up the investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

The statement released Wednesday said the investigation was ongoing while investigators worked to “discover facts that may clarify initial reports,” according to The Washington Post.

Once that investigation is completed, TBI will pass the results to the Knox County district attorney so that her office can make a determination about whether any criminal charges should be filed.

Austin-East Magnet High School was in the news in February after three students were fatally shot in a period of three weeks.

Those shootings did not happen at campus and administrators at the time told the Knoxville News Sentinel they felt their arts magnet school was a safe place.

But the latest shooting has proven to serve as a rallying cry for local activists concerned about the gun violence.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone

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