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Teachers and staff didn’t see a weapon when a suspended student entered their school on Jan. 26 and threatened to shoot them, but they believed he had access to one, a police report says. Their fears were confirmed when police caught 18-year-old Eric D. Knox carrying a loaded .22 revolver in his backpack after unsuccessfully fleeing Western Career Prep High School on foot. Knox had threatened to open fire on a teacher after the teacher approached him and asked why he was on school property, according to a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Police were called to the school at approximately 7:53 a.m. Knox had been recently suspended after making several threats to another student, a school administrator told them.
Several teachers and school staff members interviewed by police said Knox entered the school with a backpack and was going from room to room like he was looking for someone, the police report says. A teacher approached him and told him he was not allowed at the school, to which Knox replied “—- you. You need to stop following me or I’m going to fire on your ass,” the report says. The teacher told police he did not see a gun, though he had heard Knox owned one. Jackson County sheriff’s deputies located Knox walking along Robinson Road and detained him for questioning at about 8:10 a.m., according to the report and police body camera recordings. Knox said he needed to retrieve a math book from the school when deputies questioned him about why he was there when he knew he had been suspended, the report says. No book was found in his possession, it says. Knox agreed to let police pat him down for weapons, but refused to let deputies search his backpack, the report says. While deputies were questioning him, they learned Knox had an active warrant for his arrest for failing to pay fines on a misdemeanor driving without a valid license charge.
Knox struggled with deputies, who tried unsuccessfully to use a stun gun to subdue him while attempting to arrest him, the report says. Knox broke free and led police on a foot chase, it says. While several deputies chased Knox on foot, the report says another deputy returned to his patrol car and drove to cut Knox off at the Mobile gas station at Robinson Road and Michigan Avenue. Police again used a stun gun on Knox outside the gas station, this time subduing him on the ground and arresting him with the assistance from a Blackman-Leoni Township Public Safety Officer, the report says. After handcuffing Knox and placing him in the back of a patrol car, police searched his backpack and found the loaded handgun, along with several loose bullets, the report says.
A female student, whom police believe Knox was looking for, told police in an interview after Knox was arrested that she didn’t go to school that morning because she had received several threats from Knox and was concerned for her own safety, the report says. In a video message sent to her the morning of the incident, Knox blamed her for her brother going to jail and said he was going to “slap the piss out your mouth,” the report says. Knox is charged with one felony count each of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent and three felony counts of resisting or obstructing police. Knox waived his right to preliminary examination, Feb. 9, sending his case to Jackson County Circuit Court for a jury trial, according to court records. His case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson. His first pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 23. Knox is currently lodged in the Jackson County jail with bond set at $50,000.
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