Knoxville leaders promise change after three teens killed by gun violence

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 8:06 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 11:28 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knoxville Officials confirmed the death of a second Austin-East student over the last week Tuesday night. Mayor Indya Kincannon and other city leaders met Wednesday morning to discuss the gun violence that has taken the lives of three teenagers in 2021.

Protesters at the press conference disrupted the event as city leaders attempted to speak.

“I live literally two blocks from here and I hear gunshots every night. This did not just start,” said Evetty Satterfield of the Knox County School Board. “But I want to speak directly to the students: Austin-East High School is a safe school. The teachers here love you and cherish your life.”

Satterfield said she lost classmates to gun violence herself as a student at Austin-East.

“Gun violence has reached a crisis point in our city,” said Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas. “We simply cannot continue down the path we are on. The Knoxville Police Department will do whatever it takes to bring an end to this violence.”

Thomas said KPD officers will be more visible and present in the area surrounding Austin-East.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe where they live work and play,” said Chief Thomas.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas called for a change, saying now is the time to stop talking and take action.

“I’m tired of the talk,” said Bob Thomas. “I want to pledge to you that as a school system we are going to do everything in our power to make something happen.”

Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie called for an end to the shootings.

“Let me be clear: The loudest voices that you hear are not the community. We are the community,” said McKenzie. “We have to stop killing in these streets. We are tired. This ends today.”

City leader Rev. Jessie Jones called for the “angry souls” to put down their guns during his opening prayer for the community.

According to KPD, a teenage girl was shot Tuesday around 7:40 p.m. near a home in the 2500 block of Selma Avenue. The teen was transported to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

On Feb. 12, a 16-year-old Austin-East student was fatally shot as he was driving home from school. KPD officials have asked for the public’s help as they continue to investigate and name suspects.

In January, 15-year-old Justin Taylor was shot and killed from the backseat of a car in Northeast Knoxville.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon released a statement on the incident, saying, “Another teenage life has been cut short by gun violence in our City. My heart is breaking for this young lady and her family as they deal with this devastating loss. Gun violence in our streets has reached a crisis point and it must be stopped.”

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs issued the following statements regarding the recent shootings:

“My heart grieves for the Austin-East community and I struggle to find the words to express my sorrow. At times like this, we must remember what happens in any part of Knox County, including the City of Knoxville, impacts all of us. This violence against our children is horrific, tragic, and it cannot be tolerated. Knox County stands in support of these families and will work with Mayor Kincannon and our entire community to seek answers.”

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