Lenoir City, Loudon County (WVLT) - Five Lenoir City High School football players accused of firing an airsoft gun on campus last week will not face a year's suspension from school.
The superintendent must now decide on a lesser punishment for the boys, and as Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford explains, the parents of the student who was shot want to see more done.
"He got shot seven times by an air rifle," says Sandy Blackwell, whose son was the student shot with an airsoft gun at school.
"He was bleeding and he had seven holes in his arm," says Hal Blackwell, the victim's father.
Hal and Sandy Blackwell say their 16-year-old son was an innocent bystander last Thursday night when he was shot in the Lenoir City Football Field House.
"He was leaving the room at the time the boys were taking shots at another soccer game that was going on," explains Hal.
Fortunately their son wasn't seriously injured, but his parents say the physical scars are still there, and the emotional ones have taken over.
"He's very scared. He has to go through daily abuse from most of the students," says Sandy.
"We were told they'd get 365 days suspension," Hal says.
Superintendent Wayne Miller wasn't available to talk on camera, but he told WVLT by phone that the school system's legal consultant in Nashville ruled that the offense did not legally merit a full year's suspension because the airsoft gun did not use gun powder, and therefore, is not considered a weapon.
"I feel the lawyer in Nashville made a wrongful decision. A weapon is a weapon," says Hal.
"It's very unfair. These boys need to learn a lesson from this," says Sandy.
Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell say many other parents are concerned about the five boys not playing football right now, but the Blackwell's say that's the least of their worries.
"When the boys come back from the suspension, we're very concerned about them hurting him," says Sandy. "There has already been comments made about getting even with him."
Whether or not there was gunpowder involved, the Blackwell's say their son was shot with what appeared to be a large assault rifle, and the boys who did it are getting off the hook.
"If something like this could happen, what else could happen? It could've very well been a real gun. We'd be going to a funeral," says Hal.
Superintendent Miller tells WVLT he and the rest of the disciplinary board is working on a suspension recommendation right now, and isn't sure how soon they'll come up with one.