The father of a Hendersonville, Tennessee, girl has been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly shooting his 11-year-old-daughter, Timea Batts, after she got off the school bus on Monday, WPTV (West Palm Beach) is reporting.
Timothy Batts, 29, told authorities on Monday that his daughter got off the bus from her first day in sixth grade, walked a few feet from the bus stop, and told him that she had been shot. Batts drove his daughter to a nearby hospital, where she died a short time later.
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Initially, authorities in Hendersonville were baffled by the seemingly random murder. The school bus driver told police that Timea was not shot on the school bus. A search of the neighborhood — a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood full of well-kept, modest homes in suburban Nashville — turned up no clues. Hendersonville police Det. Sgt. Jim Vaughn told a local newspaper at the time that police were stumped, according to the Washington Post.
“We don’t really have any suspects right now. Right now, we’re just trying to find out what happened to the little girl.”
By about 9:30 p.m. local time on Monday night, police had determined that Timea had been shot inside her home.
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Vaughn, speaking to a local news reporter, hinted that Timea’s father may not have told the truth.
“We were told that the incident took place from the bus to the house, somewhere along the way. We don’t know if that was mostly false yet or not.”
Once police got a search warrant and were able to search Timea’s home, her father’s story began to fall apart.
As of this writing, it is not clear what evidence implicating Timothy was found in the home, where five people had lived. However, Batts was charged with reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, false reporting, and possessing a firearm as a felon. His bail was set at $1 million.
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Neighbor Justin Mathes, a 17-year-old who rode the bus with Timea, was shocked that such young girl would be the victim of a murder.
“She was not ready to leave this earth. She hasn’t experienced high school or gotten her first car. There was so much more for her to experience.”
In a statement via WTVF (Nashville), Sumner County Schools said that grief counselors would be available for the students this week.
“Our entire school district is 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. She will be greatly missed at Knox Doss Middle School at Drakes Creek. It is our understanding from communicating with authorities that today’s tragic event in Hendersonville was not school related. The incident did not occur on the bus or at the bus stop. 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.”
As of this writing, Hendersonville police are not publicly discussing a possible motive in Timea Batts’ murder.
[Image via Sumner County Sheriff’s Department]