1 dead, 1 charged in Central High School shooting

1 dead, 1 charged in Central High School shooting

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Jamar Siler was held at the police department and then transferred to the juvenile detention facility. Jamar Siler was held at the police department and then transferred to the juvenile detention facility.
Police say one shot was fired at 8:11 a.m. in the cafeteria. Police say one shot was fired at 8:11 a.m. in the cafeteria.
Students got comfort at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City. Students got comfort at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A teen student died Thursday morning after he was shot at Central High School on Jacksboro Pike shortly before school started. Another teen student is charged with his murder.

Suspect

The shooting suspect Jamar B. Siler, 15, is a student at Central. He was taken into custody six minutes after the incident at 8:17 as he was walking three blocks away on Doughty Drive and a gun was taken from him. A sheriff's deputy spotted him.

Siler is charged with first degree murder and violating his probation. He was on probation for an incident on March 31.

Siler was held at the police department and then transferred to the juvenile detention facility.

Police haven't said what type of gun they recovered or what they think the motive was.

Investigators questioned some of the students who witnessed the shooting Thursday afternoon at the police department.

Public defender Mark Stephens has been appointed to represent Siler. Stephens also represents Jim Adkisson, the suspect in the deadly July shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

The defense will seek a mental evaluation.

The prosecution has 10 days to file a motion to try Siler as an adult.

A probable cause hearing will be held August 28. The trial date is set for September 17.

Victim

Ryan McDonald, 15, was taken to UT Medical Center where he died. Police say they received confirmation of his death at 8:57.

The McDonald family says Ryan had alopecia, a rare disease which prevents hair growth.

"School was always tough for him and he didn't always fit in. He was always the odd child, looking wise. He was normal, but he just didn't look like everybody else," says his father, Joseph McDonald.

"This morning, he called me from the bus stop and said he was waiting on the bus and he was going to school and he'd see me after school,I told him I loved him and I'd be here waiting for him," his father says, adding that he can't believe Ryan won't make it back home. "You think your kids are safe at school."

Ryan's sister, Crystal Dunlap, says he had aspirations to become a children's counselor when he grew up.

"He didn't deserve this at all. Ryan didn't deserve this. He was very outgoing and would make friends with anyone that wanted to be his friend," his sister adds.

A memorial fund has been set up for the family. Send donations:

West View Wesleyan Church
3224 Joyce Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37921  

candlelight vigil was held for McDonald Thursday night at 1215 Delaware Avenue, where he lived with his grandmother.

Shooting details

Police say one shot was fired at 8:11 a.m. in the cafeteria. The victim and suspect knew each other and had a previous argument. Police describe the shooting as "not being random."

Officers reached the school two minutes after the shooting. They first received word from a sheriff's officer whose daughter is a student at Central High. She contacted her father, who alerted other authorities.

Some students were eating breakfast in the cafeteria when the shooting happened. It's a place where students gather before classes start.

A student who was in the cafeteria told 6 News he heard what sounded like a thump or a pop and didn't realize there had been a shooting. He said some students rushed to help the victim.

Another student said some people were running and screaming right after the shooting and staff members directed them to go to classrooms and stay there.

Police are reviewing video from the school security cameras.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre extended his condolences to everyone affected by the shooting, which he calls a "terrible tragedy" and an "isolated incident."

Confusing pickup process

Central High School was on lockdown and classes were canceled Thursday. Immediately after the shooting, students were told to go to the nearest classroom and stay there until they were given more information.

Students were released slowly, a class at a time.

Students who had vehicles at the school were released first. They were allowed to text message on their cell phones, but not make calls.

Parents were directed to Central Baptist Church of Fountain City, at 5364 North Broadway to pick up their kids.

However, at times police also said parents could go to the school to get their children or to Garden Drive at Rosebay.

Some parents tell 6 News there was confusion about whether to pick up their kids at school or at the church and they were frustrated about the process.

Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk says information about parent pickup sites came from Central High. Each school has an emergency plan and they tell the police department where parents should go.

Grief counselors were on hand to help people deal with what happened.

Other schools locked down

The superintendent said five other schools were on lockdown for a time Thursday morning. Those schools are: Adrian Burnett Elementary, Fountain City Elementary, Gresham Middle, Halls High and Halls Middle.

The schools are in the area near Central High.

Community pitches in

Among the people handing out water and directing people at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City was Rev. Chris Buice, whose daughter is a Central High student.

He serves as pastor of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, where two people were shot to death and six were wounded during a Sunday morning service on July 27.

Rev. Buice said "It's overwhelming and unimaginable and I don't even know that I have a reflective comment about it. That it happened in the church and in the school within a span of a few weeks is unbelievable."

He added that he's willing to help because the community has been so gracious and supportive of his congregation and he hopes that practice will continue.

Prayer service

A prayer service was Thursday night at Fountain City United Methodist Church at 212 Hotel Avenue in response to the shooting.

Church leaders invited people to come and pray for the students, faculty and parents "affected by this terrible act of violence."

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