Three Austin-East students fatally shot within a month

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three Austin-East Magnet High School students have been fatally shot within a month. School, city, and law enforcement leaders are pledging action for change.

Justin Taylor, 15

The first fatal shooting occurred on Jan. 27. Knoxville Police Department officials said the shooting involved two teens, with a 17-year-old suspected of shooting and killing a 15-year-old.

Knox County Schools confirmed to WATE 6 On Your Side that the victim in the Jan. 27 fatal shooting to be Justin Taylor.

Stanley Freeman Jr., 16

The second fatal shooting occurred on Feb. 12. Knoxville Police Department said the shooting happened just as the victim was leaving school for the day in his car. Shots were fired at the vehicle and the victim fled but crashed on Wilson Avenue.

Janaria Muhammad, 15

The third fatal shooting occurred on Feb. 16. Knoxville Police confirmed a teenage girl was killed in a shooting Tuesday night near Cherry Street at Selma Avenue.

City, police, school leaders speak against violence

On Wednesday, Feb. 17 city, school and police leaders held a press conference condemning gun violence, loss of life and also pledged to create change.

Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas said KPD would be increasing its presence not only in East Knoxville but also near the Austin-East High School and Vine Middle Magnet School campuses. Three more SROs were also being added, according to Thomas.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon also said she was “devastated  by the loss of life in our community.”

Kincannon announced Wednesday she’s been working on a plan to invest more money into violence prevention. She revealed she plans to propose a $1 million budget amendment at the next city council meeting.

“Next week I am going to be asking city council to support a one million dollar budget amendment to jumpstart community-based violence prevention and interruption programs that have proven effective in other communities,” Kincannon said.

The mayor says more information will be released soon.

Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie said Wednesday that “we are the community. And today we are mad, we are frustrated, and we are sad. And we are tired of the killing that’s going on our streets.”

Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas said Wednesday “gun violence is taking the lives of our young people, and it must stop. KCS will continue doing everything in our power to protect our students and school communities.”

A Knoxville community member is offering a reward to help find and identify the suspect or suspects connected to the two February shootings.

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