While the first recorded incident of mass murder at a U.S. school happened even before there was a United States, Tennessee was an early entry into the long list of U.S. school killings when a student who refused to be whipped in Chattanooga killed his teacher. Tennessee has logged nearly a dozen school-related attacks according to available records.
Enoch Brown school massacre
On July 26, 1764, four Lenape American Indian warriors entered a log schoolhouse of white settlers in what is now Franklin County, Pennsylvania, near present-day Greencastle. Inside were the schoolmaster, Enoch Brown, and twelve young students. Brown pleaded with the warriors to spare the children before being shot and scalped. The warriors then began to tomahawk and scalp the children, killing nine or ten of them (reports vary). Two children who had been scalped survived the Pontiac's Rebellion school massacre, also known as the Enoch Brown school massacre.
(David, Dixon (2005). Never Come to Peace Again: Pontiac's Uprising and the Fate of the British Empire in North America. University of Oklahoma Press.)
Because of such raids, the Pennsylvania Assembly had already reintroduced bounties for scalps of American Indians, which they had offered during the French and Indian War. They paid for every American Indian killed above the age of ten, including women. The bounty was approved by the colonial governor, John Penn. The unrestricted bounty resulted in settlers' attacking Indian women and children, with corresponding retaliatory raids by the Lenape.
When the warriors returned to their village on the Muskingum River in the Ohio Country and showed the scalps, an elder Delaware chief rebuked them as cowards for attacking children.
Chattanooga teacher killing
Just over 100 years later, the 4th attack happened in Tennessee. December 22, 1868: Chattanooga, Tennessee.
A boy who refused to be whipped and left school, returned, with his brother and a friend, the next day to seek revenge on his teacher. Not finding the teacher at the school, they continued to his house, where a gun battle rang out, leaving three dead. Only the brother survived.
(Published: The New York Times, December 26, 1868)
Cleveland school killing
June 12, 1887: Cleveland, Tennessee Will Guess went to the school and fatally shot Miss Irene Fann, his little sister's teacher, for whipping her the day before.
(Published: The New York Times, June 13, 1887)
Athens teacher killed in stabbing
September 12, 1905: Athens, Tennessee. Student Ernest Powers, 15, fatally stabbed his teacher Elbert Wattanbarger when he attempted to whip him for throwing stones.
(Surrender Boy Who Slew Teacher, the New York Times (September 17, 1905))
Lynnvile teacher & student killed
November 15, 1995: Lynnville, Tennessee A 17-year-old boy shot and killed a student and teacher with a .22 rifle. The Richland High School shooting in Giles County occurred when 17-year-old James “Jamie” Ellison Rouse, a senior, shot two teachers in the head, killing one, armed with a .22 Remington Viper. He then fired at the assistant football coach but hit a 14-year-old freshman in the neck, killing her. Stephen Abbott was also charged with criminal responsibility for driving Rouse to school knowing he was armed and intended to shoot up his school.
The Richland High School shooting occurred on Wednesday in Lynnville, Tennessee, a small community located in Giles County
Rouse hid the semi-automatic rifle behind bushes before driving to retrieve his friend. His friend drove Jamie the rest of the way to Richland High School. He parked the car outside the school, and Rouse entered through the north entrance hallway. Inside the hallway he confronted teachers Carolyn Yancey and Carolyn Foster.
He then shot both teachers in the head in the view of over fifty students in the hallway. He then aimed his rifle at football coach Ron Shirey, however he missed and fatally shot freshman Diane Collins in the throat. He was then tackled by a male student and another football coach, who forcibly took the rifle away from him. Carolyn Foster was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, while Carolyn Yancey survived in serious condition.
Rouse was convicted as an adult of one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of first-degree attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Centerville school bombing averted
May 20, 1990: Centerville, TN. Science teacher Donald Wayne Givens, 50, felt he was being mistreated by the local school system and was in fear of losing his job. Under heavy stress from having to support two elderly parents, care for a brother badly injured in a motorcycle accident, and running the family farm in Nunnelly in addition to his teaching duties, Givens was slowly losing his mind, according to his father, becoming forgetful and very withdrawn, sitting in the dark for hours with the blinds pulled down so no one could see him.
On the morning of May 20, Vice Principal Ron Wallace, 41, stopped by the Hickman County High School early to check preparations for the upcoming graduation ceremony rehearsal.
Instead, he found Givens in the science lab, opening all the gas jets and preparing to blow up the school. Wallace rushed Givens trying to stop him, but Givens shot him and killed him, then set three separate fires throughout the school. He then went home and began quietly thumbing through the newspaper.
Had he succeeded, some 180 students plus faculty could have been killed in what could have undoubtedly been the worst school massacre in U.S. history. Despite an insanity plea, he was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Fayetteville student killing
May 19, 1998: Fayetteville, Tennessee High School Senior Jacob Davis shot and killed eighteen year-old Robert "Nick" Creson in a dispute over a girl. He then lay down his rifle and waited with his head in his hands for the police to come. He was convicted of First Degree Murder and is serving life in prison.
March 2, 2005: 14-year old Jason Clinard shot and killed school bus driver Joyce Gregory, who had been carrying a bus of approximately 24 students.
("Jason Clinard, 14 sentenced to life imprisonment for school bus driver killing". Courttv.com. Retrieved 2011-03-12.)
Jacksboro principal murdered
November 8, 2005: Kenny Bartley, age 15, offender in Jacksboro, Tennessee school shooting with 1 principal fatality.
Campbell County High School shooting. After being confronted about bringing a gun on school property, 14-year old Kenneth Bartley opened fire on three school administrators at Campbell County High School, killing assistant principal Ken Bruce and critically wounding the principal and another assistant principal. The shooting was not premeditated.
Univ. of Memphis murder – 4 charged
September 30, 2007: Shooters were: Devin Jefferson, 20; DaeShawn Tate, 21; Victor Trezevant, 21; Courtney Washington, 22. A University of Memphis football player, 21-year-old Taylor Bradford, was fatally shot on campus in what was believed to be a targeted attack. Bradford was shot near his campus apartment. He then got into his car and drove a short distance before crashing into a tree where police found him dead from the gunshot wound. Bradford was rumored to have won more than $3,000 at a nearby casino the night before. Four suspects were charged, with Jefferson being credited as the primary conspirator.
Another Memphis school attack
February 11, 2008: Mitchell High School in Memphis, no fatalities or injuries. One dead, 1 injured.
Knoxville student killed in lunchroom
August 21, 2008: Central High School in Knoxville, TN, 1 dead.
On August 21, 2008, 15-year-old student Jamar Siler entered the school cafeteria and approached student Ryan McDonald sitting at a lunch table. Siler fatally shot McDonald, and was shortly after arrested by authorities. The two had been in previous altercations, the details of which were not released to the general public. Siler was then taken into custody.
(Jacobs, Don; Matt Larkin (2008-08-21). "Central classes resume Friday; superintendent says schools safe". Knoxville News Sentinel.
Retrieved 2008-08-21 - www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/aug/21/shooting-reported-central-high-school/)
Siler was initially tried as a juvenile until Tim Irwin, Juvenile Court Judge, ordered that he be tried as an adult. In November 2011, at age 18, Siler pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received a 30-year sentence.
Blounstville attack thwarted
August 30, 2010: Thomas Cowan entered Sullivan Central High School in Blountsville, TN, with two loaded guns with the intent on killing principal Melanie Riden. SRO Carolyn Gudger was able to hold him off until back-up arrived, when they were forced to shoot and kill Cowan. No staff or students were injured.
("Armed man fatally shot at Tenn. high school". MSNBC. 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2011-03-12 - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38923637/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/)