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Officer wounded in school wasn't shot by student's gun

ADRIAN SAINZ
·2 min read

A Tennessee police officer wounded during a confrontation with a student inside a high school bathroom was not shot by the student's gun, authorities said Wednesday, contradicting earlier law enforcement reports that the teenager fired and hit the officer.

The new report appears to indicate that the officer was shot by police during a struggle.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released updated details of a shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville on Monday that left the student dead and a school resource officer wounded. The student was identified Wednesday as Anthony J. Thompson, Jr., 17. 

TBI Director David Rausch said Monday that a preliminary investigation showed police responded to a report of a possible gunman about 15 minutes before 3:30 p.m. dismissal at the east Knoxville school. Police found the teen, since identified as Thompson, in a bathroom, the TBI said.

Police ordered the student, who is Black, to leave the bathroom but he would not comply, Rausch said. 

“As officers entered the restroom, the subject reportedly fired shots, striking an officer,” said a TBI statement about the shooting released Monday.

Police fired twice, and Thompson was shot and killed, the TBI said.

On Wednesday, the TBI revised its account in a second statement on the shooting, saying the student’s gun was fired during a struggle with an officer. 

“Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD officer was not fired from the student’s handgun,” the TBI statement released Wednesday said.

The only other gunshots cited in the report were fired by officers. The TBI declined to answer a follow-up question about whether the officer was struck by an officer's bullet.

In its statement Wednesday, the TBI said investigating agents “discover facts that may clarify initial reports.” 

“This is why our agency uses terms in our releases such as ‘preliminary,’ ‘possibly,’ and ‘reportedly,’” the TBI's statement said. "This update provides clarification to the initial information released on this case." 

Officer Adam Willson, who is white, was struck in the upper leg and he underwent surgery at a hospital.

The TBI will hand over results of its investigation to the district attorney when complete.

The shooting comes as the community reels from off-campus gun violence that has left three other Austin-East students dead this year. Classes at the high school have been canceled through Monday.

It also comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which cut down the number of mass killings in the U.S. The nation has seen a series of mass shootings in recent weeks, including eight people killed at three Atlanta-area massage businesses on March 16 and 10 people killed at Colorado supermarket on March 22.