Mystery shrouds death of Tenn. girl shot as she came home from first day of school

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This photo is being shared on social media tonight. Neighbors confirm Timea Betts is the 11 year old shooting victim. (Photo credit by WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville)

By Michael E. Miller A, washingtonpost.com

It was a story so strange it left police scratching their heads and neighbors locking their doors.

On Monday afternoon, Timea Lashay Batts caught the bus home after her first day of middle school. The 11-year-old with two-tone hair and a bright smile left the bus and began to walk through her quiet neighborhood of Hendersonville, Tenn.

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.

Neighbors 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 said to 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 a.m. local time, 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.”

On the scene where an 11 year old told her father she'd been shot in Hendersonville. (Photo credit by WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville)
On the scene where an 11 year old told her father she’d been shot in Hendersonville. (Photo credit by WZTV FOX 17 News, Nashville)

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.

Neighbors said they didn’t hear any gunshots, Fox 17 reported.

“We don’t really have any suspects right now,” 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.

Read more at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/08/09/mystery-shrouds-death-of-tenn-girl-shot-as-she-came-home-from-first-day-of-school/?hpid=hp_hp-morning-mix_mm-story-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

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