Principal, asst. principal shot at Knox school, teacher charged

Principal, assistant principal shot at Knox school, teacher charged

Posted: Updated: Feb 11, 2010 10:35 AM
Mark Stephen Foster Mark Stephen Foster
Mark Foster in custody Mark Foster in custody

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A fourth grade teacher at Inskip Elementary School is charged Wednesday with the shootings of the principal and assistant principal at the school.

The victims are Principal Elisa Luna and Assistant Principal Amy Brace.

Officials at UT Medical Center say Luna is in critical condition and Brace is in stable condition. Brace is described by officials as joking and in good spirits.

The suspect is Inskip teacher Mark Stephen Foster, 48, of Clinton. He's charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder.

The shooting was at the school at 4701 High School Road in North Knoxville at 12:49 p.m. Police said a revolver was used, but they haven't released a possible motive.

However, according to Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, Foster's contract was not going to be renewed.

Luna and Brace were in the office when they were shot. Owen said investigators believe that's the only location where the altercation occurred and Foster was the only one involved.

Foster was arrested 14 minutes after the shooting at 1:03 p.m.

Police had a description of his car minutes after the shooting. Officers caught up to that car at a construction road block near the school and took Foster into custody.

Police took Foster to the safety building for questioning, then charged him.

Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said the wounded women were alert at the scene. Chief Owen said officials believe both women have a good chance of surviving.

Brace's brother is David Brace, director of public service for the city of Knoxville. He says the family is at the hospital and doing fine, considering the situation.

The office of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale released this statement on the shooting: "The incident at Inskip Elementary School is a profoundly tragic situation. Mayor Ragsdale has visited with Ms. Brace and the family of Ms. Luna. He told them that the thoughts and prayers of all Knox Countians are with them during this difficult period. We wish them both a full and speedy recovery."

The office of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam released this statement. "I am greatly saddened by the shooting at Inskip Elementary School. The fact that this occurred at a school makes this horrific act even worse. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are affected. The Inskip School family is strong. When I was at the hospital, I was encouraged by their show of support for Ms. Brace and Ms. Luna and their commitment to helping the students deal with this tragedy."

Chief Owen said only two students were at the school at the time of the shooting due to an early dismissal for winter weather. Those two were being picked up to go home.

However, many school employees were still there when the shooting happened. Officers interviewed them to learn what they know about what happened.

School closed, support services planned

Officials say Inskip Elementary will be closed for the rest of the week.

School staff will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Inskip Baptist Church at 4810 Rowan Road.

Support services will be offered for students, parents and staff members.

Counseling services continue Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Prayer service

A prayer service will be held at Inskip Baptist Church at 6:15 Wednesday night.

More about the victims

Elisa Luna is the daughter of former state Sen. Jerry Cooper.

She's been principal at Inskip Elementary since January 2004.

Luna previously served as an assistant principal at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet School, an administrative assistant at Inskip the curriculum and instruction facilitator at Christenberry Elementary and a special education teacher at Green Academy.

She was awarded East Tennessee principal of the year in 2008.

Amy Brace is the daughter of James Brace, the assistant dean at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine.

Brace has been the assistant principal at Inskip since July 2008.

She previously served as the magnet lead educator at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet School and as a PE instructor at Sarah Moore Greene.

Previous school shooting in Knox County

This is the second shooting at a Knox County school in less than two years.

In August 2008, Ryan McDonald, 15, was shot and killed at Central High School.

Another student, Jamar Siler, was charged with first degree murder for the shooting. He has not been tried yet.

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