Knoxville (WVLT) - A fight aboard a school bus has one Gibbs High School student nursing head cuts, two more facing juvenile charges and parents and sheriff's deputies wondering whether they're dealing with a racial issue.
Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd has more on an incident whose aftershocks ripple far beyond teenagers late for class.
Investigators say a racial slur started it.
But a girl who claims to be the girl who uttered it, tells WVLT she was making a joke about the bus drivers weight, which a black student took for slang, as an insult to a street gang.
A Gibbs High student cuffed and in custody, a massive search for another.
All, deputies say, after words between another 16-year-old boy and girl turned into a shoving match.
"Some comments was made, and the black boy took it offendedly [sic] toward the girl, and the girl pushed him, he pushed her back cause she pushed him back, and that's when the boys rushed the bus and started fighting him, ganging him," says freshman Angel Strong.
"They got blood all on the bus, the windows are busted," says Angel's mom, Tamika Cowan.
Deputies allege that the two white teenagers pushed the black teenager's head into a bus window, breaking the window.
Which is why this one faces charges of assault, and vandalism.
But Gibbs Freshman Angela Strong says what disturbs her and her mother more.
"It goes on all the time," Strong says.
"It started at the beginning of the school year, with the little boy and the gun threat and the racial slurs, he was gonna kill all the blacks," Cowan says.
District Spokesman Russ Oaks confirms security investigated rumors of gun threat at Gibbs back in September.
"And were never able to substantiate that there ever was a gun, or that anybody had ever threatened to bring a gun," says Knox County Schools spokesman Russ Oaks.
"This is ridiculous. And these kids, if they don't want them there, then let them not be there," says Cowan.
Oaks says administrators have known this bus route has had trouble.
"Probably more than the normal route," admits Oaks. "It's not something we want to tolerate, it's something that falls under the discipline of the school system, and the administration will deal with it."
For now, uniform security will ride Bus 66.
But Angel's mom has had enough, "I think if I can provide the transportation, she don't have to be there."
Apparently, angel won't be at Gibbs Friday, mom is transferring her to South Doyle.
Sheriff's deputies are still looking for a second student who ran, who'll also will face juvenile assault charges.
The district isn't saying whether it's suspended any students over this.
But here's something to keep in mind, Gibbs' district covers the biggest land mass of any Knox County high school. The student body is 92 percent white. The backgrounds of the kids riding this particular bus are extremely diverse. If it is not a recipe for misunderstanding, then certainly, fertile ground for it.