Police charge man with Inskip Elementary shooting

Inskip Elementary Principal Elisa Luna (Left) and Assistant Principal Amy Brace (Right) were shot Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010 at the school.
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Police have charged an Inskip Elementary School fourth grade teacher with two counts of attempted first degree murder, after he allegedly shot two school administrators just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Mark S. Foster, 48, of Clinton, was arrested about 15 minutes after the shooting, police say.

"It appears to be only one (suspect) involved," Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said. "We have recovered the car of the suspect. We have recovered a weapon that we suspect was used in the shooting. It was a revolver."

"(Foster entered the office at Inskip Elementary School and lured the victims, Elisa Luna and Amy Brace, into the principal's office," the police complaint states. "(Foster) then shot victim Elisa luna multiple times at close range...and shot victim Amy Brace multiple times at close range..."

Foster is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon on school property. His bond is set at $1,005,000.

Owen says Inskip Principal Luna and Assistant Principal Brace appear to have "a good chance of surviving."

Hospital officials say Luna is in critical condition and Brace is stable. Brace is the sister of David Brace, Knoxville's deputy director of public service. Luna is the daughter of former Tennessee State Sen. Jerry Cooper, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"These are two outstanding educators who are deeply committed to the education of children," Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said.

Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBuksk says no students were involved or injured during the attack.

School officials say Inskip Elementary will be closed for the rest of the week, due to the shooting.

Students were dismissed from the school at 11:45 a.m., along with all other Knox County elementary students, due to weather.

DeBusk says the shooting happened in the area of the school office.

DeBusk says the motive for the violence isn't clear.

"It's way too early to go into that at this time," he said. "We have a lot of interviews that we have to do, we have evidence that we have to look at, and histories to run, so it'd be premature to try to speculate about that at this point."

Dr. McIntyre said the school system did not intend to ask Foster, who was an apprentice teacher, to return to teach next year. That decision was made before the shooting. Foster received his Tennessee teaching license in June of 2007, according to the Tennessee Office of Teacher Licensing.

"We take great pains to ensure the safety of our students and the security of our schools," Dr. McIntyre said. "This incident, there's a suspect that police has in custody who was actually authorized to be in the building. So it's a little bit of a different type of an incident, but we continue to focus on safety and security."

Two Children Remained

Although Knox County School administrators dismissed school three hours early due to weather, there were still two children inside Inskip Elementary when the shots rang out. They were waiting for a ride home.

"It sounded like one of those toy guns that make a big noise," Inskip Elementary student James Crawford said.

For 8-year-old James and his 5-year-old sister Tiana, a late pick-up from school turned into a frightening experience, waiting in the office for their mother's friend.

James says he heard two pops before he and his sister were put into hiding.

"(A school employee) told us to go under the desk," James said. "He was still running so fast. Everybody was crying, we was crying and she called 911 and we seen the police came."

The children's mother was running late, so she asked a friend, Crystal Battle, to pick up the kids. When Battle arrived, she knew something was wrong.

"The school was kind of dark so when I looked around I seen the office. The office was to your left, so when I went in I did not see nobody, and then a lady with red hair popped up from under the table," Battle said. "She said, 'Are you here to pick up James Crawford?' I said yes. Both of them popped up from under the desk, and another lady came up from under the desk. She said, 'Get them out of here, you need to get them out of here, right now."

The children's mother, Ejhara Clark, says she's thankful her children were protected.

"I thank you, and I appreciate everything they did for my kids while I wasn't there, cause I know school was out early, and I didn't have them a ride in time," Clark said.

Official Statements

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"The incident at Inskip Elementary School is a profoundly tragic situation. Mayor Ragsdale has visited with Ms. Brace and the family of Ms. Luna. He told them that the thoughts and prayers of all Knox Countians are with them during this difficult period. We wish them both a full and speedy recovery.”

"I am greatly saddened by the shooting at Inskip Elementary School," Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said in a written statement. "The fact that this occurred at a school makes this horrific act even worse. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are affected. The Inskip School family is strong. When I was at the hospital I was encouraged by their show of support for Ms. Brace and Ms. Luna and their commitment to helping the students deal with this tragedy."

“The TEA was saddened to learn of today’s incident in Knoxville," Tennessee Education Association President Earl Wiman said in a written statement. "Tennessee’s teachers’ thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy. We would like to extend our support to all of those touched by this incident

“TEA is thankful for the quick actions of the Knox County Police Department and Knox County Schools in relation to this unfortunate incident,” Wilman said.

The Healing Begins

A prayer service is planned for Wednesday night at 6:00 at Inskip Baptist Church.

An Inskip Elementary School staff meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Inskip Baptist Church on Rowan Road. Support services will be provided at the church for students, parents and school staff from 10 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. Thursday, and again Friday from 8 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.

Stay connected to VolunteerTV.com and Volunteer TV News for more on this developing news story. We have a crew on the scene, and will have complete information as it becomes available.

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