Shooting Tragedies in Knoxville

A shooting at Austin-East Magnet School in Knoxville resulted in the injury of the school resource officer and the death of an Austin-East student.

Police received a call of someone in possession of a gun at the school around 3:15pm. A teen with a gun was found in a restroom and refused to leave the school when directed to do so. He shot the school resource officer, Adam Willson. A police officer returned fire and the student was fatally wounded. The student has not yet been identified. Officer Willson was taken to surgery and he is expected to recover.

This is the fifth Austin-East student killed by gunfire just this year, though it is the first shooting that has taken place at the school. On January 27, Justin Taylor, 15 years old, was killed when another teen with whom he was sitting in a car accidentally discharged a gun. On February 12, Stanley Freeman Jr, 16, was shot and killed as he was driving home from school. Two teens, ages 16 and 14, have been arrested in connection with his murder. On February 16, Janaria Muhammad, was shot outside her home on Selma Avenue. On March 9, Jamarion Gillette was found wounded by a gunshot on Cherokee Trail in south Knoxville and taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by a good Samaritan, where he later died.

Indya Kincannon, the Mayor of Knoxville, visited Officer Willson in the hospital. Kincannon proposed $1 million to go toward community-based anti-violence projects and the City Council has approved the funding.

I am glad that the $1 million will go toward community-based projects. Much of the research recommends that national efforts to thwart gun violence are not very effective, but local efforts are. What certainly needs to be done is that families need to step up and be involved in the lives of their children. The fact that at least two of those teens killed this year were killed by other teens with guns, and that one of those killed brought a gun onto school property, means that families are central to managing this crisis. Most teenagers are still under the influence of their families, at least in some measure. Families need to be pro-active in identifying their members who are at risk of violence and take action to mitigate access to firearms and address the emotional and spiritual conflicts with which these young people are struggling. This is not the solution most people want to hear, especially those whose first reaction is more legislation, more political grandstanding. Little will be accomplished if we neglect the roots of this violence. Politics, frankly, has little to do with these sorts of tragedies. In the end, it comes down to family.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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