Former MTSU student reportedly kills mother, friend with long rifle in East Ridge, Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Casey Lawhorn / Facebook

Latest update: A body has been found in Vossburg, Mississippi. It is believed to be the body of Casey Lawhorn, according to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page. 

Update: Lawhorn’s vehicle was located in Jasper County, Mississippi, but Lawhorn was not inside the vehicle, according to reports by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He is presumed to still be in the Jasper County area and may be armed. 

Casey Lawhorn, a 23-year-old former MTSU student, reportedly shot and killed his mother, Vi Lawhorn, and his friend, Avery Gaines, in East Ridge, Tennessee, on Sunday. Lawhorn, a former political science major at MTSU, enrolled at the university in spring 2013 and withdrew on Sept. 29, 2016.

According to reports by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, East Ridge Police confirmed that the two victims were killed by Lawhorn sometime before 5:30 a.m., and his vehicle has been located by Mississippi Highway Patrol. The vehicle has not yet been approached. A SWAT team was called in to deal with the situation, and East Ridge Police will be notified if Lawhorn is alive or dead once it is known, the Times Free Press reported.

Lawhorn admitted to killing the two victims in his home on John Ross Road in East Ridge in a lengthy and now deleted Facebook post.

Lawhorn’s post lays out the events of the murders from Lawhorn’s perspective. However, all of the events in the post have not yet been confirmed. According to the post, Lawhorn shot his mother and Gaines with “stolen” .22 caliber long rifle. Lawhorn states in the post that Gaines had come over to Lawhorn’s residence Saturday night to play the card game “Magic: The Gathering,” as they often did. At around 12:30 a.m., according to the post, Gaines fell asleep on the floor of Lawhorn’s living room floor, and Lawhorn then went to pick up his mother at a local bar. Lawhorn stated in the post that his mother was drunk and was going “on and on” about how she didn’t want Lawhorn to kill himself. Once Lawhorn arrived home with his mother, he grabbed the gun out of his room and shot Gaines in the head, killing him instantly. The post states that he then attempted to shoot his mother in her bed, but his gun jammed. Lawhorn wrote that he fixed the jam, got off two shots and missed “anything vital” on his mother. However, the post states that Lawhorn did manage to shoot his mother in her arm. His mother then started screaming “the worst scream (Lawhorn’s) ever heard” and shouted, “You shot me. You’ve killed me. Why?” Lawhorn then shot her twice more and killed her. Lawhorn then walked back into the living room to take some heroin and cash off of Gaines’ person. Lawhorn then left the residence and began driving toward Georgia. 

Lawhorn also wrote in the post that he intends to kill himself because “it is too late.” He stated in the post that he has been suicidal since late high school and that he was headed toward “unavoidable tragedy” since starting at MTSU. Lawhorn then wrote that the chain of events that were initiated by attending the university led him to “inevitable” suicide.

It is still unknown as to whether Lawhorn has taken his own life.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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