KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Authorities are investigating after a teacher was “grazed” when a firearm discharged in a classroom at West High School on Friday, according to the Knoxville Police Department. KPD later released that one student was charged.
Knoxville Police say the student charged was identified as a 14-year-old male, however, his identity was withheld because he is a juvenile.
According to police, the gun was inside the backpack of a student at West High School when it discharged in a classroom, according to a Knoxville Police preliminary investigation.
One teacher was grazed by either the bullet or a bullet fragment, KPD says. Knoxville Police later added that the teacher’s injuries were ‘very minor.’ No serious injuries were reported according to police.
Knox County Schools confirmed that West High School was dismissing early while police investigated a loud noise moments before Knoxville Police posted the initial update on social media.
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A student is in police custody and the gun is accounted for. Knoxville Police says the student was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless aggravated assault and possession of a weapon on school grounds. According to police, the gun discharged in the backpack and it was not intentional.
KCS administrators spoke with WATE about the incident. Superintendent Jon Rysewyk shared that he had spoken with the teacher. According to Rysewyk, they told him they didn’t want to be recognized, they love their students and they will be back on Monday.
School Security Division Chief Jason Periard said the district will have an “after-action review” regarding this incident to see what they did well and what they could have done better.
Shortly after Knoxville Police released what happened, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon quickly shared a statement on her social media as well.
“Guns have no place in our schools. I am so relieved that no one was seriously injured today at West High School. I welcome all efforts to keep our children and community safe,” Kincannon said.
According to KCS Board of Education policy, firearms in schools or on school property are forbidden and students are not allowed to “possess, handle, transmit, use or attempt to use any dangerous weapon” including “any firearm, explosive, explosive weapon, bowie knife, hawk bill knife, ice pick, dagger, slingshot, switchable knife, blackjack or knuckles.”
The policy also states that if students are found to have violated this rule, they will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with KCS school board policies J-191 and J-194.
Policy J-194, which addresses KCS’s “Zero Tolerance Offenses,” pertains to drugs, violence and dangerous weapons involving students on school grounds or school buses; the policy outlines violations and possible punishments for students, including the directive that if any student who engages in the listed behaviors under the Zero Tolerance Offenses could be removed from the base school for a period of not less that one calendar year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.