Knoxville man who illegally bought gun for Austin-East student sentenced to 10 months

The ATF and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation led the investigation.
Kelvon Foster
Kelvon Foster(KPD)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:11 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville man who illegally provided a gun to an Austin-East High School student has been sentenced to nearly a year in jail, followed by multiple years of supervised release, according to the United States Department of Justice.

A judge sentenced Kelvon Foster, 21, of Knoxville, to 10 months in prison for making false or fictitious statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm, which is informally known as “straw purchasing,” officials said. Two years of supervised release was also part of his sentencing.

Foster said he purchased firearms from Harvey’s Pistol & Pawn in Knoxville for people prohibited from doing so themselves. In addition, he said at least one of the firearms he purchased was a Glock pistol on behalf of Anthony Thompson Jr. in exchange for cash and marijuana. According to the DA’s Office, Foster said he had known Thompson Jr. since he was 5-years-old.

Officials said it was recovered when Thompson Jr. was killed in an officer-involved shooting in 2021 at Austin-East Magnet High School.

On April 12, 2021, the day of the shooting, Knoxville Police Department officers responded to a report of a possibly armed student at the school. Upon arrival, according to a report, officers located Thompson Jr. inside a school restroom. Officers tried to get him to exit the bathroom, but he did not comply, TBI officials said.

WVLT News obtained the body camera footage of the incident which showed a struggle followed, during which Thompson Jr.’s gun was fired. Officers then fired twice, striking and killing the teenager, according to the TBI.

“In most straw purchasing cases, the harm is understood but often theoretical,” United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III said. “In this case, the harm was real and tragic. The laws prohibiting certain persons from purchasing firearms are there for a reason, and my office, and our law enforcement partners, will continue pursuing these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

“A person violates federal law the moment they purchase and transfer a firearm to an individual who cannot legally possess them,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Mickey French. “The ATF is committed to working with our local, state, and federal partners to investigate and prosecute the ‘straw purchasers’ in conjunction with the individuals who receive these firearms and use them to commit violent criminal acts.”

The ATF and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation led the investigation.

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