A Tennessee father is facing reckless homicide charges after police say he accidentally fatally shot his 11-year-old daughter on her first day of sixth grade.
Timothy Batts, 29, drove his daughter, Timea Batts, to the emergency room on Monday from their home in the city of Hendersonville, NBC News reports. Timea had a gunshot wound in her chest and died at the hospital.
Batts reportedly told investigators at first that his daughter was shot while she was getting off the school bus. However, police determined that the shooting had actually taken place inside his home.
Batts went to the police department to “tell the truth” about the shooting before authorities were able to confront him about his story, according to a police statement obtained by The Tennessean. Batts told police that he was sleeping when Timea came home, and that he grabbed his gun and fired after she “yelled and scared him,” not realizing who had entered the house. He also said that he “removed the gun from the scene.”
People mourning Timea have placed stuffed animals, candles and flowers outside of the home, according to news station WSMV.
“She was amazing,” Jerrie Lockridge, the mother of one of Timea’s friends, told Fox 17. “She was beautiful, she was fun, she was always up-tempo, upbeat, always wanted to do fun stuff. She was just always loving, caring.”
Neighbors told The Tennessean Batts was a good dad who was active in the lives of Timea and her siblings. He had taken time off from work on Monday so that he could be home when his daughter got back from her first day of middle school, pastor Adam French said.
In addition to reckless homicide, Batts has been charged with tampering with evidence, false reporting and possessing a firearm as a felon.
Batts’ criminal history involves two convictions for drug possession, four convictions for driving on a suspended license or without a license, and an aggravated assault charge from 2008.