Central High School student Ryan McDonald died this morning after being shot in the school cafeteria by another student, according to Knoxville police and a hospital spokesman.
The confrontation occurred about 8:11 a.m. before classes began at the school in Fountain City, according to Knoxville Police Department Deputy Chief William C. Roehl.
The students knew each other, according to Roehl, but he said he did not know what led to the shooting.
"They had contact with one another," Roehl said.
It was not a random shooting, he said.
"It was an isolated incident," Knox County Schools Superintendent James McIntyre said at a press conference.
Police said they were notified about 8:57 a.m. that the 16-year-old boy had died. University of Tennessee Medical Center spokesman Jim Ragonese identified the victim as McDonald.
The first report of the shooting to E-911 came from a Knox County Sheriff's Office deputy whose daughter is a student at the school.
Officers responded at 8:13 a.m., and the suspect was arrested by a sheriff's deputy at 208 Doughty Drive at 8:17 a.m., three blocks from the school, which is located 5321 Jacksboro Pike.
A small caliber, semiautomatic pistol was found on the student, who was taken to KPD headquarters downtown for questioning. An investigator said there were at least four rounds still in the magazine.
One shot was fired, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk, and the alleged shooter just walked away.
Police flooded the area after the shooting and found him walking on Doughty Drive. He was taken into custody without incident.
Kevin Perry, pastor of Word of Life Ministries in the Burlington community, said he talked to a student who attends his church and was in the cafeteria at the time of the shooting.
"He saw them when they were arguing and pushing and shoving," Perry said. "He didn't see the guy shoot him. What he did see was the guy fall.
"He shot the guy in the chest and casually walked away as if nothing had happened."
Student Devin Dial, a junior, said the shooting happened shortly after 8 a.m.
"I walked in and went straight to the Commons," she said.
"I didn't hear it, but I saw them go to the ground.
"I saw (the wounded boy) go to the ground and start shaking."
She called her mother and spoke two words: "Mommy. Gun," said her mother, Jennifer Mirtes, president of the Central High parent-teacher organization.
"I whipped around," Mirtes said. "I started loading kids into my car, and I got them off campus as quickly as possible."
She said she took about 12 students in her Monte Carlo to Litton's restaurant, nearby on Essary Road.
Jennifer Sharp and her son, Central High School senior Jesse Sharp, 17, saw the suspect walking along the road before police converged on him.
"He was walking like he was cutting school or something," Jennifer Sharp said. She said the suspect strolled along Stanton Road and onto Doughty Drive from her home at 200 Doughty Drive.
"He was looking around like he was looking for a teacher or something," Jesse Sharp said.
Several Central High students gathered in the Sharps' front yard, trying to reach fellow students via cell phone.
"These are like all our own kids; they're like family," Jennifer Sharp said.
A shaken Scott Sharp, Jennifer Sharp's husband, restlessly walked his front yard, shaking his head in apparent dismay.
"I've always feared this," Scott Sharp said. "You hear about this happening at other places, but... It's scary.
"The world's getting bad. But there's nothing you can do."
Central was locked immediately as well as all Knox County schools as a precautionary measure, according to the E-911 Center.
Initial reports were that the shooter took a gun from his backpack and shot the student.
Parents are to line up at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City, 5364 N. Broadway, according to a secretary at Central High.
Police then will direct parents, in order, from the church to the school to pick up their children.
Officials initially indicated students would be bused to the church. The current system aims to allow the school to monitor who is picking up whom, the secretary said.
Commissioner R. Larry Smith said he and other officials including Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam and county Mayor Mike Ragsdale were attending a breakfast at Fire Station No. 1 downtown, where ground was being broken for a new firefighters museum, when a secretary whispered word of the shooting into Ragsdale's ear.
"We all just got up and left the breakfast and immediately went out there," Smith said.
Smith is a 1972 Central graduate and president of the Central High School Alumni Association
"We've never had anything like this happen before," Smith said. "I'm just in shock. I'm just in shock that this happened and my heart goes out to the individual."
Among Central parents picking up their children this morning was the Rev. Chris Buice, pastor of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, where two people were killed and six others shot when a gunman opened fire during a Sunday morning service July 27.
His daughter Sarah, 14, attends Central but was running late this morning.
Buice is at the Central Baptist handing out water.
"It's our community. So many people reached out to us, now we want to reach out to them," Buice said.
"It was a good day to be running late."
Grief counselors are on the scene.