Why was an 11-year-old girl shot dead as she came home from first day at new school?
Neighbours and police say they are baffled by the death of Timea Lashay Batts in Tennessee
On Monday afternoon, Timea Lashay Batts caught the bus home after her first day of middle school.
The 11-year-old with twotone hair and a bright smile left the bus and began to walk through her quiet neighborhood of Hendersonville, Tennessee.
By the time she reached her own house, however, Timea somehow had been shot, her dad told police.
He took his daughter to the hospital but it was too late.
Timea was dead.
The bizarre shooting left police and local media searching for answers. Authorities initially said they had no suspects and few clues aside from the father’s account.
“Detectives tell us they believe the child may have been shot somewhere between getting off the bus and walking home, which is only a few feet apart,” reported News Channel 5.
Neighbours were baffled.
“I’m shocked. I’m just totally shocked,” Sean Stover told the Tennessean.
“Why would anybody shoot an 11-year-old?” Louise Gray told Channel 5. “She couldn’t be involved in nothing ’cause she’s too young.”
As the night drew on, however, the mysterious killing of Timea Batts took several more turns.
At around 1 am, authorities announced they had made an arrest.
Police did not immediately identify the shooting victim but Sumner County Schools announced Monday evening it was “grieved to learn of the tragic loss of one of our sixth grade students, Timea Lashay Batts.
“Timea was a bright and kind girl who was well loved by her classmates and teachers,” the school district said in a statement.
“She will be greatly missed at Knox Doss Middle School at Drakes Creek.”
Timea lived with her father, his partner and Timea’s two younger siblings, according to authorities. Her house sat on the corner of Shady View Drive, a quaint street lined with minivans and closely cut lawns.
Monday was Timea’s first day at Knox, which serves sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
A photo circulating on social media Monday night showed a girl identified as Timea in a striped dress with a backpack and a broad smile, seemingly on her way to school.
School officials said the girl was fine when she got off the bus Monday afternoon.
“The incident did not occur on the bus or at the bus stop,” the district said in its statement.
When police spoke to Timea’s father at the hospital, Timothy Batts told them his daughter was injured before she got home.
“The father said the child came in after school and said she’d been shot,” Hendersonville police Det Sgt Jim Vaughn told the Tennessean shortly after the shooting.
Operating on that information, authorities scoured Shady View Drive for clues, stringing up crime scene tape between mailboxes as they searched for evidence of a shooting outside the house.
They found none, according to Vaughn.
Neighbours said they didn’t hear any gunshots, Fox 17 reported.
“We don’t really have any suspects right now,” Mr Vaughn told the Tennessean, adding that there was no sign anyone else was in danger. “Right now, we’re just trying to find out what happened to the little girl.”
When asked if Timea could have shot herself somehow, Vaughn replied: “We have no facts right now. We haven’t been inside the house.”
Police were waiting on a judge to sign a search warrant before entering, he explained.
When the warrant finally arrived, the case took a sudden twist.
At around 9:30 pm, Mr Vaughn told reporters he no longer thought the shooting happened outside Timea’s house.
“The evidence tells me that it happened inside,” he said.
“At first you told us it appeared if she had been shot walking from the school bus to the home,” one reporter asked as she filmed the detective on her phone. “Were you given false information?”
“We were told that the incident took place from the bus to the house, somewhere along the way,” he answered. “We don’t know if that was mostly false yet or not.”
Less than four hours later, Timea’s father was under arrest.
Timothy Batts was charged with reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, false reporting and possessing a firearm as a felon, Fox 17 reported. His bond and court date have not yet been set.
Despite the arrest, mystery still shrouds the slaying of Timea Batts.
How did an 11-year-old girl home from her first day of school end up dead?
“She was not ready to leave this earth,” Justin Mathes, a 17-year-old who rode the bus with Timea, told the Tennessean. “She hasn’t experienced high school or gotten her first car.
“There was so much more for her to experience.”
Independent News Service