Multiple gunshot victims including KPD officer at Austin East High School

A Knoxville police officer was shot in the leg and a student died following an officer-involved shooting at Austin-East High School.
Incident at Austin-East High School
Incident at Austin-East High School(WVLT)
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 3:49 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 4:14 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An armed Austin-East Magnet High School student was killed in an officer-involved shooting Monday afternoon, according to a report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

According to the report, Knoxville Police Department officers responded to a report of a possibly armed student at the school around 3:15 p.m. Upon arrival, officers reportedly located Anthony Thompson Jr., a 17-year-old student, inside a school restroom. Officers tried to get him to exit the restroom, but he did not comply, TBI officials said.

A struggle followed, during which Thompson Jr.’s gun was fired. Officers then fired twice, according to the TBI. One of the responding officers, Adam Willson, was reportedly injured, but TBI officials confirmed that the bullet that struck Officer Willson was not fired from Thompson Jr.’s gun.

Willson was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for treatment and underwent surgery for a leg injury, the report said. Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon confirmed she met with the officer who was conscious and alert saying “he’d rather he be hurt than anyone else and he’s in very good spirits.”

Austin-East High School

#BREAKING A Knoxville police officer was shot during a deadly officer-involved shooting at Austin-East High School. The officer is expected to be okay.

Posted by WVLT on Monday, April 12, 2021

WVLT News spoke with Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas, who said it was chilling to learn an officer had been hit and that it had happened at a school. She said the school was initially placed on lockdown while officers ascertained who was involved. She said officers then worked to reunite students with their loved ones at a reunification site at the baseball field behind Austin-East.

Following the shooting, Knox Co. Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas notified the public regarding the school building being secured. “The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.

Multiple agencies responded following the shooting, including the Knoxville Fire Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Nashville (ATF Nashville) and the TBI. KFD officials said officers acted as shields while paramedics worked to find injured people.

Austin-East Behavior Interventionist, Quana Fields, told WVLT News she and other staff members were inside the school building around 4:00 p.m. while police continued their investigation.

ATF Nashville released a statement on the incident, saying they planned to work with KPD officers.

“ATF will be working with the Knoxville PD as well as focusing on the tracing of firearms and the recovery of shell cases which will be entered into NIBIN to see if there are any connections to previous shootings,” said ATF in a statement.

Mayor Kincannon and Superintendent Thomas later released a statement in a media briefing Monday night following the fatal shooting at Austin-East High School. “Let’s work together to stop the violence in Knoxville,” said Mayor Kincannon. “We lost someone particularly close to the community,” said Mayor Kincannon.

Mayor Kincannon also commended Austin-East School staff for their work to protect students. She also praised the officer who was shot on the scene for risking his life for the safety of the students.

“We all need to work together to stop the violence,” Kincannon said. “It’s a big challenge and we’re going to need the whole city to work together.”

Several other Tennessee officials spoke out following the fatal shooting, with many releasing statements on the incident.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs released a statement expressing his condolences:

I am as troubled and frustrated about this as everyone else. I want to thank the officer for risking his life to protect everyone in the school and encourage everyone to remember how hard these last few months have been on our Austin-East families. I also want to reiterate that my office is committed to working with the city, KPD, KCSO and KCS to find solutions to these tragic situations.

Mayor Glenn Jacobs

Governor Bill Lee asked Tennesseans to “pray for the families and victims” impacted by the shooting.

“A tragic situation unfolded at Austin-East Magnet High School today. We mourn the loss of life and commend law enforcement for their rapid response. We offer our full support to @TBI as they investigate this situation further,” said Gov. Lee.

On March 8, Austin-East High School released a new bag policy to deter students from bringing unwanted items onto campus. The approved bags for students include clear backpacks, mesh backpacks and small clutch purses no larger than 4.5″ x 6.5″. School officials say prohibited bags include solid backpacks, fanny packs, purses, reusable grocery totes, duffle/gym bags and large solid bags.

New bag policy at Austin-East High School
New bag policy at Austin-East High School(Captured from Austin-East Safety Update Manual)

District Attorney Charme Allen released bodycam footage of the incident on April 21 after public unrest following the incident. During the press conference, Allen told those present that the family of Thompson Jr. asked for the footage to remain private, but since Allen had said she was going to release, she decided to do so.

“I have just spent four hours with this family and I will tell you that was a painful long agonizing four hours for that family, but we talked about the death of their 17-year-old son, and one thing that family asked me not to do was release those tapes today, but because I had made a promise that once I completed the file and once I talked to the family I would release the tapes,” said DA Charme Allen.

This is unedited, raw body camera footage of the struggle and fatal shooting:

Raw police body camera footage of Knoxville Police Department officers shooting and killing and armed Austin-East High School student.

This is another officer’s body camera footage. During the struggle, it falls to the ground, providing a different vantage point of the shooting.

Raw body camera footage provides another angle to the KPD shooting and killing of an armed student

This is edited video from Officer Clabough’s body camera:

After reviewing the video evidence, DA Allen said she believes it was reasonable for Officer Clabough to feel his and the other officers’ lives were in danger.

The bullets that struck both Anthony Thompson Jr. and Officer Willson came from Officer Clabough’s gun, Allen said.

The autopsy shows that the bullet entered Thompson’s upper left body, traveled through both lungs and through the bottom of his heart. Because of the severity of the injury, no matter how soon aid was provided, Thompson would not have survived, said Allen.

“This was a devastating, non-recovering, life-ending injury”, the medical examiner said of Thompson Jr.’s death.

No charges will be filed against any of the officers involved in the shooting of Anthony Thompson Jr, said Allen.

When questioned about potential unrest in the community following the decision not to charge officers, Allen said, “At some point, we have to stop protesting against each other and work together for the greater good.”

Allen said the death of five Austin-East students over the last three months, “weighs extremely heavily,” on her.

DA Charme Allen shared the following timeline explaining what happened during the officer-involved shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School on Monday, April 12:

  • 12:30 p.m. at Austin-East Magnet High School, Anthony Thompson Jr. was first reported entering into a domestic incident with another student.
  • 12:48 p.m., DA Charme Allen explains Anthony Thompson Jr. got into a second domestic assault at the high school.
  • 1:16 p.m., Regina Perkins, mother of the domestic assault victim, text messages Anthony Thompson Jr. concerning her daughter.
  • 1:59 p.m. Regina Perkins makes a 911 call about Anthony Thompson Jr. At the same time, school security footage showed Thompson Jr. sitting in an Austin-East stairwell.
  • 2:15 p.m. KPD officer Clabough responds to Regina Perkins’s residence following the 911 call, speaks to the domestic assault victim. Regina Perkins explains to the KPD officer Anthony Thompson Jr. has threatened her daughter with a gun before.
  • Officer Clabough calls Security Resource Officer Willson regarding more information into Anthony Thompson Jr. Officer Willson confirms to Officer Clabough there was a domestic assault incident at the school.
  • 2:23 p.m. there is a text message exchange between Regina Perkins and Anthony Thompson Jr. DA Allen says Anthony never leaves the restroom after this time.
  • 2:51 p.m. Anthony Thompson Jr. receives another text message from Regina Perkins
  • 2:53 p.m. Body camera video is shown of Officer Baldwin responding to Austin-East on a domestic assault complaint. DA Allen says officers were not aware that Thompson Jr. had a gun when they arrived at the school to arrest Thompson Jr. Officer Willson advised the officer that he had witnessed the domestic dispute between the students and had been monitoring school cameras to locate Thompson Jr.
  • 3:00 p.m. Officer Baldwin, Officer Cash, Officer Clabough and Officer Willson are in a classroom with Lieutenant Cash looking at security video searching for Anthony Thompson Jr. Officers remained in the office for nearly 10 minutes looking at school cameras in an attempt to locate Thompson Jr.
  • SSO Officer Scott approached the officers and notified them of a bathroom Thompson Jr. was known to hang out in. The officers, alongside SSO Officer Scott, approach a school bathroom. Officer Baldwin, Officer Cash, Officer Clabough and Officer Willson enter the bathroom and make contact with Thompson Jr.
  • 3:11 p.m. DA Charme Allen releases body cam footage of all four officers. The officers made contact with Thompson Jr. and a scuffle soon ensued. Officers attempted to take a gun out of Thompson Jr.’s possession. One bullet was fired from Thompson’s gun. It went through a trash can.
  • Officer Clabough was the one who ultimately fired the shots that killed Anthony Thompson Jr. He was the only officer to fire his weapon. Allen said the entire incident transpired in 11 seconds. Officer Willson was hit by gunfire from Officer Clabough’s gun. Willson was dragged out of the bathroom.
  • Allen said it took four minutes for aid to be administered to Thompson Jr. by a school nurse. Allen said because of the severity of the injury, no matter how soon aid was provided, Thompson would not have survived.

The City of Knoxville announced a city-wide prayer meeting, starting at 6 p.m., Tuesday April 13 at the Overcoming Believers Church located on 211 Harriet Tubman St, Knoxville, TN 37915.

A prayer circle is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13 at 12:00 p.m. across from Austin-East High School.

The TBI will lead the investigation into the officer-involved shooting.

Four teenage Austin-East students have been killed as the result of multiple shootings in Knoxville since the beginning of 2021. Here is a timeline of events:

A suspect was arrested and charged in the January shooting, but no other suspects have been identified and no charges have been filed in relation to the other shootings.

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