Five Lenoir City Football Players Suspended After Bringing Air Gun to School

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Lenoir City, Loudon County (WVLT) - A group of East Tennessee high school football players has been suspended after one allegedly brought an air gun onto school grounds and it went off on another student's arm.

Officials say five Lenoir City High School students are in hot water right now.

The good news is no one was seriously injured.

The superintendent tells WVLT the five football players were goofing off Thursday night after their homecoming parade, and the air gun went off inside the field house in front of the entire football team.

"I guess best described as some horseplay, one thing led to another and they ended up discharging it inside the field house where a student was hit in the arm," says Wayne Miller, Lenoir City Superintendent.

Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, but nonetheless.

"It's an action that we don't condone as administrators," says Miller.

"Having fun is one thing, but there's always a time and place for that," says Mike Simms, Lenoir City Athletic Director.

And administrators say on school grounds is not the place.

"Under the zero tolerance policy, they're suspended for that ten-day period," Miller says.

Which means the five Lenoir City High football players did not play in last Friday's game against West.

"A couple of them were starters and a lot of them played on special teams," says Simms.

And the Panthers lost, 28 to 13.

"These five kids, yeah, they all played important roles on our football team, but we have to stand by what our administrators decision they make," Simms says.

Superintendent Wayne Miller says the air gun is similar to this one, giving off the appearance of a large assault rifle. "When you bring things like that onto school property, the impression that it gives is certainly not appropriate."

And Miller says whether or not it's meant to harm, a weapon, is a weapon, period.

"Our coaches still are upset about it, but they know their job and they have to move on with the players they have," Simms says.

And the game must go on without the five players again this Friday when they face Clinton.

"This is our second year moving up to 4-A football. It makes a big impact," Simm says.

Athletic Director Mike Simms says he knows the five boys well, "they're all good guys, just did not make a very good decision."

Superintendent Miller tells WVLT discipline hearings for the players wrapped up today and administrators will deliberate tomorrow on what their final punishment will be.

No matter what, they're under a ten-day suspension, but miller tells WVLT they could be suspended for 365 days if administrators see fit.