By Debbie Gregory
Mr. David Williams has been driving a Clay County school bus for 17 years, and while picking up students on a typical Monday morning, he came upon a horrific scene at one of his regular stops on North Fork Road.
Mourning the loss of shooting victim, 11-year-old Hermitage Springs student Harley Evans, Mr. Williams faces the challenge of healing, and coming to terms with what happened on October 29th.
As reported in the Macon County Chronicle last week, a release from the TBI stated at approximately 6:30 a.m. school bus driver David Williams had stopped at the residence on North Fork Road, where he usually picks up two female juveniles who live there. Instead, he found an uninjured juvenile female and an adult female with a gunshot wound. He transported the two from the immediate area and took them to the Mt. Vernon Fire Department nearby and called 911.
When authorities arrived at the residence, they found an adult male outside of the home suffering from a gunshot wound. They also found young Harley Evans inside the home, who had been shot and was deceased.
The two adults, who were identified as Harley’s father and his girlfriend, were transported to a Nashville hospital.
The man believed to be responsible for the shootings, 29-year-old Jacob Stanley Snyder was captured that same day and has been charged with one count of First Degree Murder and two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder.
Mr. Williams said that people have been hailing him as a hero, but he wants the focus taken off of him and directed at the terrible tragedy that has happened in the community. “We have many everyday heroes that responded to this terrible incident,” said Mr. Williams, “and I am truly heartbroken over the loss of young Harley. I have been praying for all the victims.”
“A Clay County deputy was the first I encountered after calling for help,” continued Williams. “Our buses are equipped with cell phones that have good service in our rural area. I am thankful for all the responders that got this crisis under control within hours rather than days. It was good to hear that all the law enforcement agencies heeded the call, including the K-9 unit, that assisted in the capture.”
“You never think something like this will happen to you, but it can and does,” Mr. Williams pointed out. “I love these kids and they love me, and I think that’s why they mind me. I could have retired a long time ago, but I would miss the kids.”
“I would like to thank our principal John Denton at Hermitage Springs School and I also praise the support staff there - Felicia Hale, the school nurse; Melita Moss, the school secretary; Leslie Smith, the school counselor; the school bus staff Avery Johnson & David Emberton as well as the leadership of our Director Matt Eldridge. The school system loves and cares for the students of Clay County, as well as educating them.”
Mr. Williams says that he would like for the community, county, and state to concentrate on avoiding situations like this, before they take place. “Most of us are proud of our community and are hard working to keep it a great place to live, but we know we have problems with drug addiction, prescription drug diversion, and illegal drugs which are all fueled by poverty. Good paying jobs in our area might be a solution for our problems.”
“What’s that old saying, ‘when the horse throws you off, get back on’,” said Mr. Williams, “Well, I’m not quitting now, I’ve got to see my way through this.”
“I would like our community to look to God for guidance and to the message of Jesus Christ for comfort during this time of sorrow and grieving,” added Mr. Williams.
Funeral services for Harley Jewel Renea Evans, age 11, of the Mt. Vernon Community in Clay County, were conducted on Sunday afternoon, November 4, at 2:00 p.m. from the chapel of Anderson and Son Funeral Home, in Red Boiling Springs, Tn., with Brother John Davis officiating. Interment followed in the Bethany Cemetery.
Survivors include: father, Justin Crowder Evans of the Mt. Vernon Community; mother, Denise Scheu of Whitleyville; sister, Hailey Evans of the Mt. Vernon Community; brother, Lance Ferguson of Whitleyville; maternal grandmother, Brenda Scheu of the Leonard Community; maternal grandfather, David Scheu and wife, Lisa of Lafayette; paternal grandmother, Marita Evans of Tompkinsville, Ky.; paternal great grandmother, Louise Crowder Atkins and husband, Sammie of Red Boiling Springs; aunts, Jada Huddleston of Fountain Run, Ky., Hope Ferguson and Amy McDonald both of Moss, Malika Scheu and Natochia Craighead both of Red Boiling Springs.