KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Sunday’s deadly shooting is the sixth shooting since the beginning of 2021 related to the Austin-East Magnet High School community. To clarify, the incident is the latest of fatal shootings since January that involved former and current Austin-East students.
Here is a timeline of the events:
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 15-year-old Justin Taylor.
Stanley Freeman Jr., 16, was pronounced dead at the hospital after he was found unresponsive in a crashed vehicle on Wilson Avenue. Knoxville Police say he was leaving school in his vehicle when shots were fired. Police also said the teen did not appear to have been the intended target of the shooting.
Principal Nathan Langlois spoke about Freeman:
“I’m sorry that we lost this young man. 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.”Austin-East High School Principal Nathan Langlois
Four days later, Janaria Muhammad, 15, was shot to death near Cherry Street at Selma Avenue.
Cairra Woodruff, Muhammad’s sister said, “She was always smiling,” and was active with dance and volleyball.
The city, school and Knoxville Police leaders held a press conference condemning gun violence, loss of life and also pledged to create change as the three children’s deaths came amid a growing trend.
Mayor Indya Kincannon, Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie, Police Chief Eve Thomas, Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas, Knox County School Board District 1 Rep. Evetty Satterfield and local faith leaders spoke.
“I commit as mayor of this city to keep our community safe and address this uptick in violence,” Kincannon said. “This requires partnership, and I’ve seen a renewed attention and effort to it today.”
“This is not the first student we’ve lost. I’ve lost classmates as an Austin-East graduate before. This is not new for us. This is not new for this community.”Knox County school board Rep. Evetty Satterfield
Austin-East Magnet High School sent an email to parents outlining new security measures. Among the new policies, increased police presence, random searches, upgrades to security cameras, and a new clear backpack policy.
Around 15 to 20 Austin-East students gathered for about an hour after school calling for an end to the violence.
“Hopefully we can solve whoever killed Stanley or Nana or Justin and it never happens again because it could have been me or someone I love and the fact that I’m still here to this day means it’s up to me to get this message out,” Austin-East sophomore Shiasia Calhoun said.
A former Austin-East student showed up at UT Medical Center with gunshot wounds. Jamarion “Lil DaDa” Gillette, 15, last attended the school in September 2020.
Gillette was in the state’s custody but was reported missing from a Crossville youth home in October.
Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen made the announcement that two teens, age 16 and 14, face charges related to three separate shootings including the death of Freeman on Feb. 12.
At around 3:15 p.m. multiple law enforcement agencies responded to an officer-involved shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School.
Knoxville Police Department officers responded to Austin-East on the report of a male subject who was armed in the school. Upon approach of the subject, shots were fired. Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen later clarified the events of what took place in the death of the Austin-East student. Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, who was shot and killed in a school bathroom during a confrontation with Knoxville Police.
Around 1 a.m. on Sunday, Knoxville Police officers responded to a deadly shooting in the area of Minnesota Avenue and Pascal Drive. Officers found two males and one female suffering from gunshot wounds in the area of lot D of Lonsdale Homes. All three were taken to UT Medical Center.
17-year-old Johnkelian ‘John John’ Mathis was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to close friends.
Principal Tammi Campbell said the 17-year-old was a senior at Austin-East Magnet High School. In a letter to parents and staff, she said school counselors and a crisis response team will be available for students and staff Monday.