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10Investigates: More shots fired near East Knoxville schools than others in city in last two years

KPD officers respond to an average of two shots fired calls within a mile of Austin-East every single week. That's a stark contrast from schools in other areas.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In Knoxville, 20 people have been shot and killed in 20 weeks in 2021. That's highly unusual, but part of a growing trend.

Two of those victims are from this week alone, according to Knoxville Police Department data. Five of them were under 18 years old. 

"It's troublesome, honestly," said Chris Wiley, a father who lives in East Knoxville. "You've got to sit around worrying about what's going on when your son is not here."

As part of WBIR's commitment to looking at gun violence across the city, we wanted to find out where shootings are happening most frequently.

10News requested two years of shooting data from the Knoxville Police Department. Records showed officers responded to 827 shots fired calls between April 15, 2019 and April 15, 2021.

Not every shooting resulted in a victim. These calls include vandalism, shots fired, injuries and deaths. All of them included evidence of a shooting, such as shell casings or witness reports.

We then calculated how many of them happened within a mile radius of schools within Knoxville city limits.

Data showed 214 of the shots fired calls were reported within a mile radius of Austin-East Magnet High School. That's more than a quarter of all shootings in the city.

On average, that means KPD officers respond to approximately two shots fired calls within a mile of Austin-East every single week.

That's a stark contrast from most other schools in the city, where the average is 46 shootings within a mile over two years, or about one every other week. 

Some reported far fewer. Data showed only three shootings within a mile of Northwest Middle School and five near Central High in the last two years. 

Credit: WBIR Data Team

The concentration of shots fired calls in East Knoxville has neighbors worried.

"It's alarming to everybody," said Carvin DuPont, who lives in East Knoxville. "They want to be able to let their kids go outside without worrying about it."

He and other neighbors have suggestions for how to slow the ongoing violence.

RELATED: Resources: How you can help students, community in East Knoxville

"It's going to take more than just us looking for the people who sit downtown to do it," DuPont said. "It's going to take the people in the neighborhood. My thing is that if you want to grow a garden in your backyard, you don't just call somebody to do it, you get out there and put your hands in the dirt."

Chris Wiley agreed.

"It's a pretty good area, you know, besides what's been going on here lately," Wiley said. "We just need to get along with each other."

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