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17-year-old Austin-East football player killed in weekend shooting

According to sources, the 17-year-old was an Austin-East Magnet High School student. The community gathered outside to hold a candlelight memorial for him Monday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knoxville Police Department is still investigating a shooting that left a 17-year-old dead on Minnesota Avenue and Pascal Drive in Lonsdale on Sunday.

An investigation showed that there was a large gathering of people in the area of Minnesota Avenue and Pascal Drive when a fight broke out and shots were fired. The gathering quickly dispersed prior to officer arrival.

Officers arrived at the scene and said they found three gunshot victims, including a 17-year-old male who died after being transported to the UT Medical Center. All of them were found in the area of Lot D of Lonsdale Homes.

KPD released a screenshot taken from a video captured in the area that shows a crowd gathered near Minnesota Avenue and Pascal Drive just moments before shots were fired.

The surviving two victims are 29-year-old Tricia Fisher and 25-year-old Anthony Taylor, KPD said.

According to multiple sources, the 17-year-old victim was John John Mathis, an Austin-East football player.

Monday evening, the community gathered outside to hold a candlelight memorial for him.

Credit: WBIR

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New A-E Principal Tammy Campbell alerted A-E parents on Sunday in an email.

"AE Family - It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that one of our students passed away over the weekend. As a school family and community we are saddened by this loss, and will be supportive and sensitive to the family’s request for privacy during this difficult time," the email states. We will stand AE strong, and prayerfully united together as we support our students, staff and the family as we all deal with this loss. Tomorrow, we will have our school counselors and Crisis Response team professionals available to any student and staff that may want or need support."

Two residences and one car were also struck by gunfire during the incident, KPD said. 

KPD said that no suspects have been identified or charged, and the investigation is still ongoing. 

According to a press release, investigators and additional KPD personnel conducted a neighborhood canvas on Monday morning to seek additional evidence and witnesses. 

Investigators have knowledge that there were likely numerous witnesses to the shooting based on the number of individuals present at the time of the incident, KPD said.

If you have any information contact the East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org, or via the P3 Tips mobile app.

The East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers has increased the cash reward for tips received by Crime Stoppers leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Mathis to $2,000.

A family friend, Wando Stacey, said he can't imagine what the family is going through.

"I grew up with his mother and his auntie, and I know they're deeply hurting," Stacey said.

Stacey is also a community leader through SEEED. The organization works on stopping violence among youth in Knoxville.

He said the community has not had the proper time to heal. John John is the sixth student from Austin-East to die in the past eight months.

"These students,  they're stuck in pain and hurt and that frustration and misunderstanding," Stacey said.

Stacey said this is a moment where the whole community needs to come together and support one another to get through the pain of losing another teen.

"These young adults really need to be hugged right now," Stacey said.

He encouraged adults in the community to show empathy to all the students who are coming back to school Monday with a heavy heart.

"If we shut down and push them away, how do we open our arms?" Stacey said. "We need to keep our arms open, and hug those people because hopefully, if I got my arms wrapped around you, you can't raise them to harm anybody else."

The AE Football Team tweeted, "Please keep our family and community in your prayers as we face the devastating loss of an incredible young man." 

CAK, Fulton and West High School football programs also offered their condolences to the Austin-East community.

Evetty Satterfield, a Knox County School Board Member, tweeted out, "His death marks the 29th criminal homicide in Knoxville city limits this year. Last year, the city saw a record 37 killings." 

With the students heading back into the classroom on Monday, Stacey hopes the school has empathy for its students.

"I would ask the students to not be afraid to grieve," Stacey said. "Let your emotions show. And then take something positive. And attach John John's name to it."

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