KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and Austin-East Principal Nathan Langlois spoke Monday morning about the teenage student who lost his life in a Friday shooting.
Family members identified the 16-year-old as Stanley Freeman Jr.
Knoxville Police say he was leaving school in his vehicle when shots were fired. Police also say the teen does not appear to have been the intended target of the shooting.
“I’m sorry that we lost this young man,” Langlois said. “It’s heavy on my heart. And we have to do something to prevent these types of things from happening in the future. I’m just so sorry about what happened to this young man. We need to do something. We have got to stop gun violence in Knoxville.”
“We have to do something about this, and I’m hopeful as a community we can come together, all of the agencies that need to come together, and let’s figure out a solution for this,” Thomas said. “On behalf of our board of education, I know our board is grieving as well. And our board stands ready to do, as I said earlier, anything and everything that we can do to make sure that a situation like this doesn’t happen again and that we take our steps in terms of the school system to address gun violence in our community.”
The superintendent met with Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon on Monday afternoon, to talk about strategies moving forward.
Kincannon told us about one move that starts when students return to the campus.
“We have a working plan to enhance security and KPD is going to have a more visible presence around the outside of Austin-East, particularly at times when students are coming and going,” she said.
Principal Langlois provided insight into who Stanley was as a young man and student.
“He was a young man that lost his life too soon. He was a great student. Can’t really say enough about him. He was a quiet soul, had a sense of humor, had such a bright future ahead of him,” Langlois said.
Austin-East’s principal also discussed the support available to grieving students and staff members.
“While school is not in session today, the school is open and we have additional counselors and grief staff available for any students or community members that want to come in and talk about this. We’re also going to have support here for the rest of the week and as long as we need support to help our students through this difficult time,” he said.
Family and friends gathered for a vigil on Sunday night to honor Freeman Jr.
Investigators are urging anyone who may have witnessed the shooting or people with information relevant to the investigation, to contact the Violent Crimes Unit by phone at 865-215-7212 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.