ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Investigators said that on Friday night, an 18-year-old brought a rifle to a football game at Christian Academy of Knoxville. Information released by Knox County deputies said a tip led them to believe Aidan Eldridge was going to the school to confront a former teacher.
The deputy who responded reported finding an "assault rifle" on the front floorboard of his vehicle. Eldridge is charged with carrying a weapon on school property.
The arrest of Eldridge may open questions about school safety during and after school activities.
"School security is my number one responsibility,” said Greg Deal, the director of school security for Anderson County.
Deal said he works to keep kids safe during school hours and beyond, including at after-school activities. He said safety involves communication between everyone involved.
"Our best chance is developing that culture with our kids so they're willing to come to adults and express their concerns about things going on,” said Deal.
He also said it involves working with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office to ensure enough deputies are at all events, including at big football games. Brian Galloway, a deputy at ACSO, said security had improved this year.
"Most of our football games average between seven and nine officers. And if it's a big event, like a rivalry game, it could go as high as 12 or more,” he said. "We were able to come up with a plan this year that we could allow more officers to attend work and these events."
A new program allows officers to work comp time and helps the school district save money.
"The SROs would work a contract similar to our assistant principal's 220-day contract, and then they would work after-hours games, band concerts, different activities, and they would earn comp time," said Deal.
But Deal says there is always work to improve school security.
“I kind of like to think that our school security is a process that we're constantly looking at and trying to look at best practices and utilize technology,’ said Deal.