On March 27th a heavily armed attacker shot through a locked school door at a private Christian school in Nashville, killing three 9-year-old students, a custodian, a substitute teacher and the head of the school before being killed by police officers.
Four months later on July 31, an armed shooter opened fire on a Memphis Jewish school after failing to enter the building. Memphis police pursued and shot him as he fled. The suspect was sent to a hospital, where he is in critical condition.
It was the second armed assault on a religious school in Tennessee in four months.
Assistant Police Chief Don Crowe, describing the incident at Margolin Hebrew Academy-Feinstone Yeshiva of the South—the only Orthodox Jewish day school in Memphis—said, “Thankfully, that school had a great safety procedure and process in place and avoided anyone being harmed or injured at that scene.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, whose district includes Memphis, said in a statement that he was “shocked” to hear about the incident at the school and added that acts of “violent antisemitism” are on the rise across the country.
The deadly shooting at the Christian school in March prompted calls to tighten security at both public and private schools in Tennessee and closer examination of Tennessee’s relaxed gun laws. According to the latest statistics, the state’s firearm death rate is the 11th highest in the U.S., 53% higher than the national rate and has been climbing steadily, mostly in West Tennessee where the latest shooting occurred.
Margolin Hebrew Academy-Feinstone Yeshiva of the South (MHA-FYOS) doesn’t begin the new school year until August 17 with new teachers arriving a week prior, on the 10th, so it’s unlikely that the school was fully in session on July 31st.
The school’s website contains this statement: “We are shocked and saddened by the events that took place at MHA-FYOS yesterday. And incredibly grateful to God that thanks to our school’s extensive security measures and the swift response by the Memphis Police Department, everyone is safe. Thank you to the entire Memphis community and our friends around the world for your love and support. We stand united in our commitment to keeping all students and school staff members safe.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is now handling the case.