KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man has agreed to plead guilty in federal court to lying in order to buy a handgun for an Austin-East High School student who ended up dead in a 2021 bathroom confrontation with police.
Kelvon Foster, 22, signed plea agreement papers Dec. 9 with federal prosecutors in Knoxville. He's due in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Feb. 4.
Foster bought a 9mm pistol at the request of Anthony Thompson Jr., 17, on April 5 at Harvey's Pistol and Pawn on Clinton Plaza Drive. Security video showed Foster and Thompson in the store together.
Thompson directed Foster to the gun he wanted, authorities allege. Foster filled out paperwork at the store attesting that he was buying the gun for his own use. That was a lie, court papers state.
Later the same day, Foster handed off the Glock pistol to the teen in a parking lot off Broadway in exchange for cash and marijuana, according to state court records.
Federal court records show Foster has admitted to authorities "straw purchasing other firearms for Thompson." He'd known Thompson since the teen was age 5 because he was friends with Thompson's brother, records state.
Thompson had the 9mm with him when Knoxville police confronted him in a bathroom at Austin-East. Authorities had been alerted he had the 9mm, and a Knoxville woman complained before the confrontation that Thompson had been abusive to her daughter, a student who Thompson had dated.
Foster has agreed to plead guilty to what's called an information charge to making false and fictitious statements, a felony. An information is submitted to the court in lieu of a grand jury review.
A pre-sentence report will be conducted into Foster's background and financial status before the judge imposes sentence.
During talks with authorities, Foster admitted to "straw purchasing" other guns that actually weren't for him.
He gathered them up and surrendered them for forfeiture to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, court records state. The guns: a Glock .40-caliber pistol and two 9mm pistols.
During the brief April 12 bathroom confrontation, an officer saw Thompson's pistol in his hoodie pouch. A shot from the pistol went off, striking a nearby trash can.
A KPD officer fired his service weapon, striking Thompson in the chest. The teen suffered catastrophic injuries and died at the scene, according to an autopsy. The officer also fired a bullet that struck a fellow officer in the leg.
Thompson and the wounded officer fell to the floor. A student friend of Thompson's who had been in another stall in the bathroom came out.
Foster also faces state charges in Knox County.
He's due to appear Jan. 31 in court on a misdemeanor count of providing a handgun to a juvenile.
State prosecutors have been waiting to see how the federal case advanced before proceeding.