Last week, The Root reported that 17-year-old Anthony J. Thompson Jr. was shot and killed by police officers in the restroom of Austin-East Magnet High School in Knoxville, Tenn., after police responded to a call about a “possibly armed” student.
Law enforcement officials originally reported that before he was killed, Anthony shot one of the officers who had gone into the restroom with their guns drawn, but later they corrected the report saying the bullet that hit the officer didn’t come from Anthony’s gun and that the gun had gone off during a struggle.
Now, the woman who called the police in the first place—who turns out to be the mother of Anthony’s girlfriend—is apologizing for calling the cops, and says she never indicated that Anthony was armed.
Knox News reports that, according to Regina Perkins, the mother of Anthony’s girlfriend Alexus Page, the two teens were involved in a toxic relationship that had escalated to the point where there were physical fights. She also said that, despite the volatile relationship, she considered Anthony to be a “good kid” who didn’t deserve to die the way he did.
“They had fun together, there were good times,” Perkins told Knox News. “My daughter honestly wanted to help him deal with everything he was going through, but I knew that things were becoming unhealthy so I did what I could as a parent to shield her from it.”
From Knox News:
“She loved him, she really did,” Perkins said. “He was a good kid, he had dreams and goals, but he had some struggles. They both have gone through a lot of things, and as a parent, I felt it was necessary to protect her after I saw things were heading in the wrong direction the last few months.”
Those last few months included physical fights, two suspensions and complaints from Perkins to the school to intervene and separate the two students.
On Monday morning, Page called her mother from an assistant principal’s office, upset and wanting to leave early. Her mother allowed her to sign out and come home. When she got to the house, Perkins says her daughter had marks on her face and was missing some hair.
Perkins pressed her daughter more than a dozen times about what had happened before the girl relented and admitted she and Thompson got into a scuffle during an argument.
“Alexus told me that she was grabbed and that her hair was pulled, and that is really what led me to feel that I needed to do more,” Perkins said.
Perkins said she called the police after she was unable to get in touch with Anthony’s mother and that “Anthony was aware that I had called the police and made a report.”
She said she spoke to Officer Jonathon Clabough, one of the four officers who are currently under investigation regarding the shooting. Perkins said Clabough asked her if Anthony might be armed and she said she didn’t think so.
“When Officer Clabough left my house at about 2:36 p.m. he said he would be going to Austin East to make an arrest,” she said. “But he was given no impression that Anthony had a gun on him, so I don’t know what happened after he left my house.”
Now, Perkins says she regrets calling the police at all.
“I am so sorry, and I never meant for anything to happen to him,” Perkins said. “We are mourning, my daughter is grieving the loss of her first love and we also want answers and justice in this case.”
“I tried my best to make sure every measure was taken. It’s hard to keep these teenagers away from each other,” she continued. “This could have been prevented. That child should not be dead, and my condolences sincerely go out to Anthony’s family. There are many rumors, but this is the truth about what happened before KPD got there. We all want justice for Anthony. He should still be here.”
To be honest, I’m not sure what the moral of the story is here. This isn’t your typical story involving Karens weaponizing the cops against Black people. This is a case involving an allegedly abusive relationship and a teen who apparently brought a gun to school—which doesn’t automatically mean the cops were justified in taking his life.
Not much information has been revealed regarding the circumstances of the shooting itself.
This story is just sad all around but at the end of the day, only Anthony J. Thompson Jr. is left dead and now a community and a Black family are left wondering what the hell happened while hoping for truth and justice.