Maryville College football player charged in death of Central High School student

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- An 18-year-old man has been charged with first degree murder in connection with the death of a teenage girl.

According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office, William Riley Gaul shot Emma Walker, 16, to death.

Investigators say that on Monday, Nov. 21, at 6:29 a.m., Gaul fired a gun into Walker's bedroom while she was asleep, hitting and killing her.

Officials believe the murder was premeditated. According to KCSO, detectives had Gaul under surveillance because they believed he was preparing to destroy evidence related to the murder. Officials arrested him Tuesday at 11 p.m., in the parking lot of the Woodlands Apartments on Cherokee Trail in South Knoxville.

Gaul was booked into the Knox County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

KCSO says that Gaul was a student at Maryville College, while Walker attended Central High School in Knoxville.

According to the Maryville College football roster, Gaul was a freshman wide receiver.

Maryville College told Local 8 News that their thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and friends affected by this tragedy. The college released a statement saying they are cooperating fully with the Knox County Sheriff's Office after Gaul's arrest. He is expected to appear in court on December 2.

Central High School Principal Michael Reynolds released a statement about Emma Walker's death.

"This has been a very difficult time for the family, students and staff. Our student was a wonderful young lady, a cheerleader and honor student with a promising future, whose life has been cut too short, too soon. At this time, our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with the family as they go through this grieving process. We thank everyone in our community for their tremendous support," Reynolds said.

Local 8 News has read tweets from Gaul about Emma Walker. Out of respect for the Walker family, we have chosen not to display the tweets.