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Wed Apr 14, 2021, 05:02 PM

Some thoughts about the Austin-East (Knoxville, TN) Shooting (Long)

I have been thinking a lot about this the last 24 hours. Here are a few of my thoughts kind of condensed.

The first is, after reading everything I can get my hands on about it (I'm originally from the area and familiar with the school, kind of, as it was near my daughter's high school and we sometimes went to church with kids from there) I'm convinced it could have been prevented if the police had someone who could de-escalate the situation. Instead, it sounds to me like they stood outside the bathroom where the young man was and ordered him to "drop the gun and come out", and when he didn't, they stormed in, ordered him to drop it again, and shooting commenced. He was shot dead and one of the officers, a school SRO, was shot in the upper leg.


"Police say they received a report of a student with a gun and went to the school at about 3:15 p.m. Monday. Officers located the teenager in a restroom and ordered him to leave, according to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation preliminary report. Police say they entered the restroom when he refused to comply. When the suspect fired at police, the report said, an officer returned fire. The student was pronounced dead at the scene."

It does not appear to me as if any de-escalation at all was attempted. None. What's wrong with this picture? Why didn't they try to negotiate, try to get the young man out of the bathroom, try to get him to stop whatever he was doing? I'm wondering if he was despondent, perhaps thinking of suicide. Or maybe mildly but not seriously homicidal. Young people don't barricade themselves in a bathroom if they're planning on coming out with guns blazing. They're going to go into a classroom or the cafeteria and blaze away. This kid didn't do that. I wonder if he was planning on hurting himself or this was a gesture. Apparently he and his girlfriend were having some problems.


"Page admits she and her boyfriend were mad at each other that day.

"I just know the petty arguments aren't worth it," she said. "Pick and choose what you argue about. You never know when it's gonna be your partners time." "

But because of impatient cops who couldn't take the time or didn't have the will or the skill to de-escalate the situation, we have a young man dead before his time, a grieving family, a heartbroken girl, and a wounded cop...who by all accounts is a decent enough sort.

And here's another thing, while we're asking questions....Austin-East is a majority-Black school; some say 70%, some say more than that, up to 90%. The SRO is white. They also had a couple of "security cops"...why? And are they also white? Shouldn't they have a Black SRO? It also looks like the cops that went in were all white. Maybe that's why they were so damn impatient....or scared of a young Black man with a gun. Would they have handled it differently if it were at majority-white Bearden High School across town and the student were white? I bet you can guess.

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Reply Some thoughts about the Austin-East (Knoxville, TN) Shooting (Long) (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Apr 2021 OP
SoCalDavidS Apr 2021 #1
Jilly_in_VA Apr 2021 #2
SoCalDavidS Apr 2021 #3
Jilly_in_VA Apr 2021 #4
SoCalDavidS Apr 2021 #5
IbogaProject Apr 2021 #6
Jilly_in_VA Apr 2021 #7

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 05:19 PM

1. Sorry, Little Sympathy Here

Mistake #1: He brought a weapon to school, and was obviously seen brandishing it.

Mistake #2: He fired shots at the SRO.

Mistake #3: Were they supposed to wait and see what he did next?

What would the outcry be if they had tried to negotiate and talk him down, and then he shot and killed one of the responding officers or the SRO?

I would have some sympathy for his parents. UNLESS, it was they who gave him the gun or allowed easy access to firearms within their home. Then they have to suffer the consequences for their actions. But at least they might get their gun back, so there's that.

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Response to SoCalDavidS (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 05:25 PM

2. Guess what, sonny?

They just found out that the shots that hit the officer did not come from the kid's gun.

I don't suppose it ever occurred to you that someone might have reported that he had a gun because they knew he was suicidal? Or that he didn't get the fun from his parents at all? Grow up.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 05:36 PM

3. Did Not Realize That

Sorry I jumped to that conclusion. So the student fired no shots at any of the officers or the SRO, but they killed him anyways? Guess I'd like to know more facts before reaching an opinion.

I'm just tired of guns and gun violence. But Tennessee loves their guns and their lax gun laws, that much is certain.

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Response to SoCalDavidS (Reply #3)

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 05:57 PM

4. He may have fired

or not, but he sure didn't hit anything. More than likely the gun just went off while police were trying to take it away from him. Why didn't the SRO or someone try to talk him down? That's my question. Nah, they're just too antsy.
Here's the link. Read it for yourself.

You seem to be from out of the area. Let me brief you. A-E is a majority Black school. The county made it a magnet school (music/drama) when they merged the city and county schools some years ago, but it has remained majority Black anyway because most white parents in Knoxville won't send their kids "over there". Most of the kids who go there are good kids and it's a cohesive community. My daughter went to Knoxville Catholic and in her day KCHS was located in the same area (it's since moved) so there was some interaction. For awhile she and I went to St. Luke's Episcopal Church which is also in that area so knew some kids from A-E. In the past 3 months there have been 5 kids lost to gunfire from that school, but this is the only one shot by cops. Two of those murders remain unsolved. So the kids have had a LOT of trauma. There's just a lot going on.

I've lived in the area and I can't imagine this same scenario happening at majority-white Bearden High School across town in a wealthy neighborhood. I just can't.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Reply #4)

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 06:28 PM

5. You May Very Well Be Right About The Black School Vs White School Angle

All I'm saying is that IMO, it all started with him bringing the weapon to school and then possibly shooting it. At that point he became an "active shooter" at a school, and I think race becomes irrelevant. He gave police the right to resolve the situation, and cops never shoot to wound, they shoot to kill.

Now if he was in the bathroom, holding the gun to his head, not firing at anybody, then it would be completely wrong for cops to shoot and kill him.

It all goes back to the fact we're a fucked up, gun loving country. A kid should not be bringing a gun to school. Either he got the gun because we're a fucked up country where a teen can easily acquire a gun, or we're a fucked up country, where his parents gave him the gun, or made it readily available in the home.

Eliminate the gun, and the kid is still alive, and the SRO is not in the hospital. But I know that America is never going to change, so incidents like this will continue to happen in perpetuity.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Apr 15, 2021, 11:10 AM

6. SWAT team w a concussion grenade

SWAT team w a concussion grenade. The building was likely cinder block cement walls and heavy wood or metal door. They have those when serving warrants, when it isn't aoproiate but not when it is, w an armed and mentally unstable individual. This was a rush with out cause unless the walls were thin sheetrock, and even then just evacuate that part of the building.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Thu Apr 15, 2021, 02:46 PM

7. What we NOW know

is that the police did not even bother to call for a crisis negotiator. Now to me, that is just stupid in a bucket and gives the family a pretty good case for a lawsuit. I don't know whether that smacks of impatience or incompetence. Some of the officers involved have been cops for awhile, so I wouldn't think the latter. I'll post a link, but the story is labeled "for Subscribers" so you may not be able to access the whole thing. I'll post as much of it as I can without getting blasted for breaking copyright.


Knoxville police say they can't explain — for now at least — why the agency didn't call in its Crisis Negotiation Unit to peacefully disarm an Austin-East student who was holed up in a school bathroom with a gun.

Instead, police entered the bathroom and ended up in a confrontation that left 17-year-old Anthony J. Thompson Jr. shot to death and a police officer wounded by gunfire.

The Knoxville Police Department has a team of officers who receive special training in crisis negotiations. According to the city’s website, there are 14 members of the Crisis Negotiation Unit. The members take turns serving as the on-call crisis negotiator, so every shift is covered.
(comment: KPD wouldn't or couldn't say how many times this unit has been used in the past year.)

The TBI said its agents cannot address why Knoxville police did not summon a negotiator, referring questions Wednesday to Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen.
Knox County Schools spokeswoman Carly Harrington told Knox News she also didn't know why the four officers on the scene, including school resource officer Adam Willson, didn’t first seek to negotiate with Thompson.
(italics mine)

Now here we get to the interesting part:

In a news conference less than fours after the 3:15 p.m. shooting Monday, TBI Director David Rausch, a former Knoxville police chief, provided an account later contradicted by the TBI on Wednesday. In the first statement on Monday, Rausch said Thompson “reportedly fired shots” at officers as they entered the restroom, striking Willson in the upper leg. The officers, Rausch said, returned fire, killing Thompson.

By Wednesday afternoon, that account had been flipped on its head: the TBI revealed that Thompson had not, in fact, shot Willson. Instead, Willson was hit by friendly fire – either his own or from one of the three other officers involved.

In this new account, the TBI insisted Thompson was armed and holed up in the bathroom when police arrived but offered no explanation for why a negotiator wasn’t summoned.

The TBI now says Thompson “struggled” with officers as they rushed into the bathroom, and his gun “was fired” in the struggle. But the agency doesn't identify who fired the gun, and won’t say who fatally shot Thompson.

The agency has given no indication whether anyone was inside the bathroom with Thompson when officers arrived. The TBI has not revealed where the gun they say was in Thompson’s possession was located after the shooting or by whom. The agency has not revealed who owned the gun or how it wound up on school grounds. It’s also not clear why Thompson was holed up in the bathroom with a gun in the first place.

Knoxville police have refused to release bodycam footage of the shooting, citing orders from Allen. Mayor Indya Kincannon on Wednesday made an appeal to Allen to allow redacted footage to be released. Allen refused, and said Thursday she will not release anything related to the investigation, including video, until the case is concluded.
That is about as much as I dare print, but it sounds to me like the cops are covering up a bad screwup. They kinda look like cats trying to cover their mess on a tile floor. I hope some of you can access the article.

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