East Ridge Student Will Appeal Suspension

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 8/09/2013 6:54 pm
EAST RIDGE, TN. (WDEF)- The senior year may be over before it starts for an East Ridge High School student.
Eric Johnson's life changed completely before school started Thursday morning.

Eric was in a hurry to get to school yesterday morning...and he says that caused him to make a tragic mistake.
He's now facing felony charges and he's afraid his friends and school mates won't get to hear his side of the story.

ERIC JOHNSON, EAST RIDGE SENIOR "I did forget the knife was in there. But I mean, its not like I had any intentions on hurting anyone at school."

Eric was driving this gray Explorer in the school parade Thursday morning.
It's a tradition on back-to-school day.
But he bumped the car ahead of him.
Police and the school SRO arrived, and things suddenly went from bad to worse.
An assistant principal spotted this hunting knife stuffed between the front seats,and alerted the officers.

CPL. ROBBIE WADE, EAST RIDGE POLICE DEPT. "If you carry those weapons on a school ground the charges are increased..its a separate code section..its a felony or an e-felony in this case..for this particular weapon."

A pocket knife was also found.

ERIC JOHNSON "I didn't even know they found it until I got back to myn car to get my bookbag and stuff and that's when the officer told me ..that he asked me if I had anything inside the car that I should'nt have had. That's when I told him I had my hunting knife in there."

Eric was arrested and taken to jail. He paid a 160-dollar bond and was released a short time later.
He says his goal is to recover from the incident.

ERIC JOHNSON "Try to get back in school really, try to get it cleared out and just get back in school .finish out my school year."

Dr. Lee McDade at the Hamilton County schools tells us he expects Eric to appeal, and that it would come to him for a final decision.
McDade says that usually takes 2 to 3 weeks.
In the meantime, the schools have made one concession to Eric.

ERIC JOHNSON "They told me I can come to school and get my work for my classes and stuff...that way I can keep up with my grades and stuff like that as far as not being in school."

Corporal Wade says in some cases the judge will allow a plea bargain in cases like this one---with minor punishment.
The County schools says weapons found on campus are handled on a case by case basis.
Eric Johnson says he wants to graduate and join the Marine Corps.


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mamac - 8/9/2013 10:40 PM
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Look it happens..I have done it myself. I was in a hurry and forgot my pistol was in the car and went to camp.It never dawned on me that my pistol was there.And I have been in a hurry going to get something at the store and had money in my car and left without my purse( my licenses) and yes they was a road block state police..But it happens..You can look at this young man and tell if he is being truthful or not...If his record is good and clean is a good student then let him off with a warning...Kindly sounds like to me someone wanted to see a little excitement ..Hope you get back in school and the best of luck to you...
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