Fort Sanders community on edge over shooting

By: Rob Pratt
By: Rob Pratt

KNOXVILLE (WVLT) – Klay Lesko was shot Thursday night in the Fort Sanders neighborhood near the University of Tennessee.

Even though he said he still feels safe, his shooting has a lot of his neighbors and fellow UT students still on edge.

As Klay recovers at UT Medical, many wonder who will be the next victim in a neighborhood where residents say violent crime is becoming all too common.

Among them is Glenda Hackney who, along with her 3 children, just a few houses away from the shooting scene on Laurel Avenue.

“I heard this strange noise,” she said. “It kind of startled me and I said ‘oh no, not again.’”

According to Hackney, there have been at least three robberies on her block since she moved in, back in August.

That’s why on Friday morning, she sought, and received permission from her landlord to move her family to an apartment in another part of town.

“What if my kids were out here at the time it happened, and they had thought they saw them and shot them for being a witness,” she asked? “So I’m moving, I’m not staying here anymore.”

But most who live in Fort Sanders are students, like John Papaik, who is among the many that are fed up with fearing for their safety.

“I think students have started to say, ‘we're UT students, we live in this neighborhood and we want a reaction from the university,’ and we're just not getting that,” said Papaik,

It may seem like there has been a lot of violent crime on and around the UT campus this year, but University of Tennessee Police say that’s because they make sure we hear about it.

“The university is taking the proactive approach of using new methods to get our message out about these incidents,” said Keith Lambert of UTPD. “I think that contributes to some of that perception.”

Students say getting email alerts like the one that went out last night is reassuring, but they still know its up to them to be careful.

“I talked to my roommates about it and they are concerned,” said Linsi Phelps, a UT student, “but we just all walk together and stay safe.”

Even thought it’s not part of the UT campus, UTPD said they patrol the area and are adding extra patrols.

Fort Sanders still remains the responsibility of the Knoxville Police Department.

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