A Hendersonville father and convicted felon told police he accidentally shot and killed his 11-year-old daughter Monday afternoon “when she yelled and scared him,” Sumner County court documents reveal.
Timothy Batts, 29, told police he was asleep in his home but woke up from a sound and retrieved a gun from under his dresser. He then fired a shot at Timea Batts “when she yelled and scared him,” shooting the girl in the torso, according to his arrest affidavit released Tuesday by police.
Originally, Batts told detectives his daughter woke him up and told him she had been shot after she got off the school bus.
A search of the home revealed the shooting took place inside, and the weapon used had been removed from the residence, making Batts’ first statements “not truthful,” police said.
“The defendant came to the police department later and stated he wanted to tell the truth about what happened, and admitted the story he previously told was not the truth,” the affidavit said. “The defendant removed the gun from the scene and stated the gun was now in Nashville.”
Batts is charged with reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, false reporting and possessing a firearm as a felon. He was booked into the Sumner County Jail after midnight Monday on $1 million bond, said Detective Sgt. Jim Vaughn with Hendersonville Police.
At 3:30 p.m. Monday, Timea Lashay Batts had just finished her first day in sixth grade at Knox Doss Middle School at Drakes Creek.
After the shooting, Batts drove Timea from their Shady View Drive home to Hendersonville Medical Center, and from there she was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she died of her injuries within two hours, Vaughn said.
Batts is set to appear in Sumner County General Session Court on Aug. 24. He already had a history of drug and gun charges with Metro Police.
Timea was a student at Knox Doss, Sumner County Schools confirmed in a statement.
“Our entire school district is grieved to learn of the tragic loss of one of our sixth grade students, Timea Lashay Batts,” said Jeremy Johnson, a spokesperson for Sumner County Schools. “Timea was a bright and kind girl who was well loved by her classmates and teachers.”
Sumner County Schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson said the incident was unrelated to the school but that nearby Merrol Hyde Magnet School was on heightened alert. Johnson said about 50 students were participating in after-school activities Monday afternoon.
“The incident did not occur on the bus or at the bus stop,” the Sumner Schools release continued. “We have no reason to believe that there is any threat to student safety on any of our school campuses due to this tragic event.”
Grief counselors were available for students and staff at Knox Doss on Tuesday.
Justin Mathes, 17, who rode the bus after Timea, said he was shocked.
“She was not ready to leave this earth,” Mathes said. “She hasn’t experienced high school or gotten her first car. There was so much more for her to experience.”
Mathes attends Beech High School in Hendersonville.
Monday afternoon, Vaughn said police had no suspects and were obtaining a search warrant for the girl’s home. Officers then searched the house.
Neighbor Sean Stover described the area as populated mostly by families with children.
“It sort of makes me a little bit concerned because this has been a really quiet neighborhood, a really safe neighborhood,” Stover said.
Stover said the 11-year-old’s parents have at least two children. “I hope all the details come out and the family is OK. We are here to help.”
Several neighbors said Timea was a cheerleader and a softball player. They described the family as good people and the children as well-mannered and sweet.
Monday was the first day back at school for the bulk of Sumner County Schools’ 29,000 students.
Neighbors held a vigil for Timea, bringing stuffed animals and candles and praying together in a circle holding hands.
— Dessislava Yankova (@desspor) August 8, 2016