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Bishop Stika urges unity to find solutions to violence after Knoxville shootings

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Police respond to a shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tenn., April 12, 2021. CNS photo/Brianna Paciorka, News Sentinel, USA Today Network via Reuters

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville offered prayers for a teenager who was killed and an injured police officer involved in a school shooting. 

The bishop also expressed concern in a statement April 12 following the incident for “the series of tragic events” that have resulted in the deaths of four other teens since Jan. 27 who were former or current students at the Knoxville public school as well as concern for mass shootings in several cities nationwide in recent weeks. 

Such incidents, he said, “demonstrate that violence in our society remains a serious, almost daily occurrence and that it claims victims in many different ways.” 

“As a nation, we must commit ourselves to work to turn away from violence and find real solutions that lead us to love, compassion and decency,” Bishop Stika said in a statement released following the death of an Austin-East Magnet High School student. 

Bishop Stika also pledged to “do what I can to help.” 

Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tenn., is seen at the Vatican Dec. 3, 2019. Bishop Stika offered prayers April 13, 2021, after a shooting the day before at a Knoxville public school in his diocese, but he also urged U.S. communities to come together “to find positive solutions to this ongoing problem in our country.” CNS photo/Vatican Media

“Prayers are important, but communities must come together to find positive solutions to this ongoing problem in our country,” he said. 

Knoxville Police Officer Adam Willson, who was serving as a school resource officer at the school, was recovering from surgery after being shot, officials reported April 13. 

Police did not identify the student who died. 

The shootings occurred about 3:15 p.m. after police responded to a call that an armed student was in a school bathroom, said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

Willson was shot when the student fired at officers who entered the bathroom, Rausch said. The student was killed by return fire from police, he said. 

Knoxville police have said that no evidence points to any connection between this shooting and the earlier incidents claiming the lives of the other four teenagers. 

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