A Tennessee dad was charged Tuesday with fatally shooting his 11-year-old daughter — and then falsely claiming she had been hit by gunfire while walking home from her first day of middle school.
Timothy Batts was arrested after driving fatally wounded Timea Batts to a hospital emergency room Monday with a gunshot wound to her chest, the Hendersonville Police Department said.
In addition to reckless homicide, Batts, 29, is charged with tampering with evidence, false reporting, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Police did not disclose any details about Batts' criminal history.
Meanwhile, local NBC affiliate WSMV reported that a steady stream of the slain sixth grader's grieving neighbors in Hendersonville, Tennessee, had brought teddy bears, flowers and candles to the suburban home.
"She's only 11," Leanna McKee said. "She hasn't even gotten her first car, hasn't even gone to high school, hasn't even experienced life yet, so that's kind of sad."
Grief counselors were sent to the Knox Doss Middle School, where Timea was a student, in nearby Drakes Creek.
"Timea was a bright and kind girl who was well loved by her classmates and teachers," the Sumner County School District said in a statement. "She will be greatly missed."
School officials also made a point of stressing that the child's death "was not school-related."
"The incident did not occur on the bus or at the bus stop," the statement said. "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."
The chain of events that ended with Batts behind bars began Monday, when father and daughter arrived at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital in nearby Vanderbilt.
"The father said the child came in after school and said she'd been shot," Detective Sgt. Jim Vaughn of the Hendersonville Police Department told The Tennessean.
"There was no evidence that (shooting her) was his plan. It wasn't premeditated," he added, according to the newspaper.
It wasn't until several hours after Timea was pronounced dead at 4:30 p.m. Monday that police returned to her family home armed with a search warrant and found evidence that apparently contradicted her father's story, The Tennessean reported.
Batts' bond has been set at $1 million, according to NBC affiliate WSMV.