KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Tennessee woman said she called police about a physical fight involving her daughter and the girl's boyfriend before he was fatally shot by officers in a high school bathroom.
Regina Perkins said she called police last Monday on 17-year-old as Anthony J. Thompson Jr., the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Police said Thompson had a gun inside Austin-East Magnet High School in east Knoxville later Monday and was shot to death in a confrontation with officers in a bathroom.
Perkins said Thompson and her daughter, a junior, had dated for nine months. The girl called Perkins from an assistant principal’s office earlier Monday, saying she was upset and wanted to leave school early. Perkins said she allowed her to sign out and go home, where the girl indicated she and Thompson got into a scuffle during an argument.
Perkins said she tried without success to reach Thompson's mother before calling police. An officer came to her home to take a statement. Perkins said she also exchanged text messages with Thompson, telling him that an officer would be coming to the school.
“Anthony was aware that I had called the police and made a report,” Perkins said.
Not long after that, Perkins said she saw a helicopter above the school and learned that the school was on lockdown. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said police responded to a report of a possible gunman about 15 minutes before the school's 3:30 p.m. dismissal.
Perkins said she now wishes she had never called police.
“I am so sorry, and I never meant for anything to happen to him,” Perkins said. “We are mourning, my daughter is grieving the loss of her first love and we also want answers and justice in this case.”
During the shooting, a school resource officer was wounded by a gunshot, which the TBI said did not come from the student’s gun, raising the possibility that the officer could have been hit by police gunfire. The resource officer was shot in the leg and is recovering after surgery.
A local prosecutor has denied a request by Knoxville’s mayor to release video footage of the shooting, saying the public will be allowed to see the body camera evidence at some point.
The shooting occurred as the community reels from off-campus gun violence that has left three other Austin-East students dead this year.
It also comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, a period that saw a drop in mass killings in the U.S. The nation has seen a series of mass shootings in recent weeks.