Students come to grips with teacher's death

Douglas Van Neste
Douglas Van Neste

By Nick Kenney - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MUNFORD, TN (WMC-TV) - Students in Munford were back in class Tuesday as they continued to deal with the loss of a history teacher who was fatally shot in his sleep by his teenage daughter.

During Tipton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Fite's 18 year tenure, his school district has dealt with death.  But Fite said nothing could prepare him to deal with what happened to Munford High School teacher Douglas Van Neste.

"He was a good man," Fite said. "He was well-liked in the school community, and he seemed to be very conscientious about the services he provided the children."

A statement by Tipton County Sheriff J. T. "Pancho" Chumley said a preliminary investigation indicates 40-year-old Douglas Van Neste had been shot with a shotgun while he slept in the den. Chumley said it appears the shooter was Van Neste's 15-year-old daughter.

Deputies responded to a call at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday and found Van Neste's body.

The incidents leading up to the shooting are still under investigation. According to the statement, the family is cooperating.

The girl has not been charged or arrested, Chief Donna Turner said. Officers have not ruled out the possibility that the shooting was an accident. The District Attorney should decide whether to press charges in the next few days.

Chumley said in a statement, "This is a tragic incident for the Van Neste family, the Munford High School staff and student body and our Tipton County community."

Fite said grief counselors were on campus Tuesday for anyone in need.

"What we're trying to do is respect the family and try to keep things as normal as possible for the students," he said. "And for the students that's involved in that, that were in his classes, we try to bring them together and deal with it the best you can."

Investigators said the shotgun was one of many legally licensed guns in Van Neste's home.  Investigators also said there were no signs of alcohol, drugs, or any previous abuse.

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