One student has died and an officer has been injured in a shooting incident at a High School in Knoxville, Tenn., according to officials.
Officers responded to reports that there was potentially an armed individual at the Austin-East Magnet High School after 3 p.m. on Monday, April 12, CNN reported.
They found a man, who is believed to be a student at the school, armed in the restroom and ordered him to come out. He reportedly refused, and one officer returned fire after he fired shots, according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigations director David Rausch. The unidentified student died at the school.
An officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries after he was hit at least once and was taken to UT Medical Center, but at a press conference on Monday, Knoxville Police chief Eve Thomas said the officer was in surgery and in serious condition. "We are all devastated by this tragedy," Thomas said.
"We have a student, a school incident. It’s our worst fear, an active shooter in a school," Thomas said in response to what has been described as an overwhelming police response to the call.
"This wasn't a school shooting, this was an officer-involved shooting inside of a school, much different. At this point, the student hadn't done anything with the firearm until the officers engaged," Rausch said at a press conference. "It's important to make that distinction."
Rausch explained that "there were no arrests I'm familiar with at this time," but "if anyone was detained, it's more than likely witness information."
The school will reportedly be closed for two days in light of the incident, but Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas said counselors will be available in the school.
"We continue to keep the school community in our thoughts and prayers as we grieve the losses they have endured," Thomas said on Twitter. "I also want to express my gratitude to KPD and other law enforcement officers who responded quickly to this dangerous situation, and our prayers are with the KPD officer who was wounded."
"I know that school is a safe place," Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. "It’s a place where people are learning... The issues with violence are happening in the community, and it’s affecting kids when they’re outside of the school. That’s why we are focusing our efforts to protect the innocent, protect the school, protect the children and students and staff."
"Our prayers are with our LEO family @Knoxville_PD especially the officer shot in the line of duty this afternoon. We wish him a full & speedy recovery! Additionally, we are praying for the entire Austin East Community this evening," Knoxville County Sheriff Tom Sprangler tweeted.
This is said to be the fifth fatality surrounding the Austin-East Magnet High School in recent months.
The investigation is ongoing.