Police charge man with Inskip Elementary shooting

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email
Knoxville Police have charged an Inskip Elementary School fourth grade teacher with two counts of attempted first degree murder, after he allegedly shot two school administrators just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Inskip Elementary Principal Elisa Luna (Left) and Assistant Principal Amy Brace (Right) were shot Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010 at the school.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Police have charged an Inskip Elementary School fourth grade teacher with two counts of attempted first degree murder, after he allegedly shot two school administrators just before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Mark S. Foster, 48, of Clinton, was arrested about 15 minutes after the shooting, police say.

"It appears to be only one (suspect) involved," Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said. "We have recovered the car of the suspect. We have recovered a weapon that we suspect was used in the shooting. It was a revolver."

"(Foster entered the office at Inskip Elementary School and lured the victims, Elisa Luna and Amy Brace, into the principal's office," the police complaint states. "(Foster) then shot victim Elisa luna multiple times at close range...and shot victim Amy Brace multiple times at close range..."

Foster is also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon on school property. His bond is set at $1,005,000.

Owen says Inskip Principal Luna and Assistant Principal Brace appear to have "a good chance of surviving."

Hospital officials say Luna is in critical condition and Brace is stable. Brace is the sister of David Brace, Knoxville's deputy director of public service. Luna is the daughter of former Tennessee State Sen. Jerry Cooper, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"These are two outstanding educators who are deeply committed to the education of children," Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said.

Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBuksk says no students were involved or injured during the attack.

School officials say Inskip Elementary will be closed for the rest of the week, due to the shooting.

Students were dismissed from the school at 11:45 a.m., along with all other Knox County elementary students, due to weather.

DeBusk says the shooting happened in the area of the school office.

DeBusk says the motive for the violence isn't clear.

"It's way too early to go into that at this time," he said. "We have a lot of interviews that we have to do, we have evidence that we have to look at, and histories to run, so it'd be premature to try to speculate about that at this point."

Dr. McIntyre said the school system did not intend to ask Foster, who was an apprentice teacher, to return to teach next year. That decision was made before the shooting. Foster received his Tennessee teaching license in June of 2007, according to the Tennessee Office of Teacher Licensing.

"We take great pains to ensure the safety of our students and the security of our schools," Dr. McIntyre said. "This incident, there's a suspect that police has in custody who was actually authorized to be in the building. So it's a little bit of a different type of an incident, but we continue to focus on safety and security."

Two Children Remained

Although Knox County School administrators dismissed school three hours early due to weather, there were still two children inside Inskip Elementary when the shots rang out. They were waiting for a ride home.

"It sounded like one of those toy guns that make a big noise," Inskip Elementary student James Crawford said.

For 8-year-old James and his 5-year-old sister Tiana, a late pick-up from school turned into a frightening experience, waiting in the office for their mother's friend.

James says he heard two pops before he and his sister were put into hiding.

"(A school employee) told us to go under the desk," James said. "He was still running so fast. Everybody was crying, we was crying and she called 911 and we seen the police came."

The children's mother was running late, so she asked a friend, Crystal Battle, to pick up the kids. When Battle arrived, she knew something was wrong.

"The school was kind of dark so when I looked around I seen the office. The office was to your left, so when I went in I did not see nobody, and then a lady with red hair popped up from under the table," Battle said. "She said, 'Are you here to pick up James Crawford?' I said yes. Both of them popped up from under the desk, and another lady came up from under the desk. She said, 'Get them out of here, you need to get them out of here, right now."

The children's mother, Ejhara Clark, says she's thankful her children were protected.

"I thank you, and I appreciate everything they did for my kids while I wasn't there, cause I know school was out early, and I didn't have them a ride in time," Clark said.

Official Statements

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"The incident at Inskip Elementary School is a profoundly tragic situation. Mayor Ragsdale has visited with Ms. Brace and the family of Ms. Luna. He told them that the thoughts and prayers of all Knox Countians are with them during this difficult period. We wish them both a full and speedy recovery.”

"I am greatly saddened by the shooting at Inskip Elementary School," Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam said in a written statement. "The fact that this occurred at a school makes this horrific act even worse. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are affected. The Inskip School family is strong. When I was at the hospital I was encouraged by their show of support for Ms. Brace and Ms. Luna and their commitment to helping the students deal with this tragedy."

“The TEA was saddened to learn of today’s incident in Knoxville," Tennessee Education Association President Earl Wiman said in a written statement. "Tennessee’s teachers’ thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy. We would like to extend our support to all of those touched by this incident

“TEA is thankful for the quick actions of the Knox County Police Department and Knox County Schools in relation to this unfortunate incident,” Wilman said.

The Healing Begins

A prayer service is planned for Wednesday night at 6:00 at Inskip Baptist Church.

An Inskip Elementary School staff meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Inskip Baptist Church on Rowan Road. Support services will be provided at the church for students, parents and school staff from 10 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. Thursday, and again Friday from 8 a.m. until 2:45 p.m.

Stay connected to VolunteerTV.com and Volunteer TV News for more on this developing news story. We have a crew on the scene, and will have complete information as it becomes available.

Would you support the installation of metal detectors, like the ones used in area courthouses, in school to protect your children?


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  • by Carla Location: Texas on Feb 11, 2010 at 04:09 PM
    As an Elementary Principal from Texas, I know the job Principal Luna and Asst. Principal Brace do on a daily basis to educate students is challenging. School Administrators deal with students, parents and staff on various issues that range from curriculum, safety/discipline, personnel concerns, budget, etc. Tough decisions are made everyday. Some people may agree or disagree with decisions that are made in the best interest of the school. However, NO ONE deserves something this horrible especially from a TEACHER. My thoughts and prayers are with them and I wish them a fast recovery. I heard comments in the media that both of you are outstanding administrators. Thank you for all you do for kids.
  • by Anon on Feb 11, 2010 at 02:06 PM
    Mary, I'm sure that's a typo on the part of "knowthelaw" and they meant to say "can't." I'm sure you've made a typo at least once in your life...cut them some slack.
  • by shirley Location: Campbell County on Feb 11, 2010 at 01:51 PM
    HELLO Mary you should be glad that somrone called upon the LORD and he heard them other wise they all could be killed. God was took out of schools. He will not stay where he is not wanted. But he was still in their hearts so he heard them. Thank you GOD for being there and helping them all and keeping the little children safe. Also thank you Betty for your comment. When God was taken out of school you see what happens . The devil comes in. Christians we better start praying more and stand yp for what is right. Put God back in our schools we (I) need him everyday. If GOD had not been there what would or could have happened. Don't want to thank about it. My prayers are with the families. Thank you God.Bible reading and prayer never hurt us we had it every morning before class started.
  • by Mary on Feb 11, 2010 at 09:22 AM
    Dear "knowthelaw", read your 3rd sentence....."However, teachers can force their beliefs on others." Really?? Because I'm thinking we, as teachers, can not "force" our beliefs on our students. At least I was informed by Knox County School System and the TEA that we can't and I would trust that they "know the law".
  • by Anonymous Location: knoxville on Feb 11, 2010 at 08:09 AM
    Well, This just goes to show the mood of those loosing their jobs, If you are in charge of laying someone off, This could happen to you. Do check the mental state of your employees before hand to prevent situations like this in the future.
  • by Shalana Location: knoxville, tn on Feb 11, 2010 at 12:17 AM
    this is really sad and i hope he gets the punishment that he deserves... we are suppose to be moving very soon and the kids(3) were suppose to go to that school and now they are very very scared and doesn't want to go there now although this can happen anywhere i know that but for children its very hard to understand and accept the things that happen in life.... i really hope that the both of them will be ok and be able to fight there way thur this as well as the children... please everyone send all your prayers to them...
  • by VP2 Location: CA on Feb 10, 2010 at 10:38 PM
    I am a vice principal and I know we worry about keeping our students safe from lunatics like this. It is scary to think this man has been a teacher to many students. My thoughts and prayers are with you all!
  • by Newer Knox Mom Location: Central Ave Pike on Feb 10, 2010 at 09:46 PM
    I arrived at the road block today on my way to run errands . I was shocked to see numerous cop cars, an ambulance, and even the hellicopter just in front of me. Thinking it was an accident I sat there and waited for an opportunity to turn around. When I saw a man being placed into a police car I didn't know what to think.We really need to do something about saftey in our schools. It really upsets me to think that my child may be affected by this one day. It's a shame that two people who actually want our children to succeed are in hospital beds due to one mans problems. I wish these ladies the best. Hopefully this incident won't keep them from doing the excelent job that they do. To the administrative staff helping the two children to saftey, GOD BLESS YOU! Come on people, let's get it together, for our childrens sake!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 10, 2010 at 09:03 PM
    he worked filling in for 6 months a maynardville elem about 2 years go in 2007 i was in the class. i hope the principal and vice principal in inskip will be ok
  • by Jacob on Feb 10, 2010 at 08:12 PM
    This is my little brother Isaac. Hi Mrs.luna and Ms.brace I wonder if you guys are o.k. I know that man hurt you guys but it is still o.k. Me and my sister cryed. Oh, I forgot I have a present for you two. I love you two with all of my heart. I wish you two were at School right now with us. The whole school misses you both. Love Isaac Potter :) :) :)
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