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Tennessee high school student killed in officer-involved shooting in school bathroom

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Student killed in officer-involved shooting
Student killed in officer-involved shooting 01:15

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released new information contradicting its original statement that the student shot the officer. 


A student was killed and a police officer was wounded during an officer-involved shooting at a school in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Monday, authorities said. Officials said the shooting occurred after police found a student with a gun in a bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School. 

At 3:15 p.m. local time, police responded to a report of a male who was possibly armed in the school. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said Monday that police found the suspect in a school restroom. Police ordered him out, but he refused.

Rausch also said Monday that as police entered the restroom, the student "reportedly fired shots, striking an officer," and that the student was killed when officers returned fire. 

But in an updated statement Thursday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released new information contradicting the claim that the student was the one who shot the officer. 

"Officers entered the restroom. During a subsequent struggle, the student's gun was fired," the bureau said in a new statement. "This was followed by law enforcement firing twice." 

"Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD officer was not fired from the student's handgun," the bureau added. 

Students who were not involved in the incident were sent home, said Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox County Schools. Prior to Monday's violence, four students have been fatally shot this year alone.

Austin-East Magnet High School
Knoxville police work the scene of a shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School on Monday, April 12, 2021, in Knoxville, Tennessee. Wade Payne / AP
 

Suspect died at the scene, police say

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the person who died at the high school was the subject of the initial call to police. Director David Rausch did not name the person, but said he was a student at Austin-East Magnet High School.

Rausch said Monday that when officers responded to the scene following a report of a person who possibly had a gun, they found the subject of the call in the restroom. Police ordered him out, but he refused.

Rausch also said Monday that as police entered the restroom, the subject "reportedly fired shots, striking an officer." One officer returned fire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation clarified its initial statement, saying only that "the student's gun was fired" during a struggle in the bathroom, and that law enforcement then fired twice. 

"Preliminary examinations indicate the bullet that struck the KPD officer was not fired from the student's handgun," the bureau said. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Counselors will be available at high school on Tuesday

Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas said counselors will be available to students at Austin-East Magnet High School on Tuesday. 

Thomas said the community "has suffered tremendously over the last few months," adding that he's "so sorry for the losses they have endured."

By Victoria Albert
 

Senator Marsha Blackburn says she's "heartbroken" by shooting

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said she's "heartbroken" about the shooting, adding that she's "praying for the community, including the officer injured in the line of duty." 

By Victoria Albert
 

High school closed for the next 2 days

Austin-East Magnet High School will be closed for the next two days as the investigation into the shooting continues, WVLT reported. 

By Victoria Albert
 

One person detained for further investigation

One person, identified only as a male, has been detained for further investigation, according to Knoxville police. Police did not provide any additional details about the person. 

By Victoria Albert
 

1 killed in shooting

One person was killed in the shooting, Knoxville police said Monday. The victim has not been identified. 

By Victoria Albert
 

What we know about the high school

The Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville was founded in 1968 and is the county's only magnet school for performing arts, according to the school's website. 

There are 642 students currently enrolled at the school, which is staffed with 154 employees, including teachers, principals and support staff. 

Tennessee School Shootings
People gather outside Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville following a shooting on April 12, 2021. Wade Payne / AP
By Zoe Christen Jones
 

The FBI is monitoring the shooting

An FBI official told CBS News the bureau is monitoring reports that multiple people were shot at the school. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said their agents are investigating the shooting.

The Nashville division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also assisting local law enforcement. 

By Pat Milton
 

Mayor says wounded officer is conscious and "in good spirits"

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon told WVLT that the wounded officer is conscious and "in good spirits." The officer, who has not been named, is being treated at UT Medical Center. 

"He said he'd rather be hurt than anybody else," Kincannon said.

Wounded officer "in good spirits" 01:17
By Victoria Albert
 

Four students at the school have already been killed this year

Four students at Austin-East Magnet High School had been fatally shot this year before Monday's violence, WVLT reports. 

It's not clear if the shootings were connected, or if they are related to Monday's violence.

Several students victims of prior shootings 02:41
By Victoria Albert
 

No active threat to the public

The Knox County Sheriff's Office has said there is no active threat to the public, CBS affiliate WVLT reported. 

By Victoria Albert
 

The school has been secured

Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas tweeted that the school building has been secured. Students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families, he said.

"We are gathering information about this tragic situation and will provide additional information as soon as possible," Thomas said. 

By Victoria Albert
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