A freshman wide receiver at Maryville College in Tennessee is facing a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting of 16-year-old Emma Walker, a high school cheerleader, according to multiple reports.
Knox County Sheriff’s Office officials said Wednesday that William Riley Gaul was arrested in connection with Walker’s death after she was found dead inside her house Monday morning, according to CBS News.
Officials said evidence found at the scene indicated Gaul had allegedly fired shots into her bedroom from outside the home while she slept.
Walker was a cheerleader at Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, the same school from which Gaul graduated.
Walker’s aunt, Jenny Weldon, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that her niece had ended a relationship with Gaul weeks ago, but he allegedly refused to accept it.
“She had chosen to move on,” Weldon said, alleging, “He refused to accept it. He chose not to accept her wishes.”
Weldon said Walker had looked forward to graduating and becoming a neonatal nurse after college.
“Our student was a wonderful young lady, a cheerleader and honor student with a promising future, whose life was cut too short, too soon,” Central High School Principal Michael Reynolds said in a statement on Wednesday.
The spokesman for the Maryville College athletic department, Chris Cannon, said in a statement that they are “cooperating fully with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department in this investigation.”
Gaul was dismissed from the college’s football program, according to Maryville coach Shaun Hayes.
Gaul is being held at the Knox County Jail on a $750,000 bond. His preliminary court hearing is on Dec. 2. It is not clear if he’s pleaded to his charge or retained an attorney.