Tenn. teacher deliberately threw chair at toddler, detectives say

Authorities said surveillance video revealed the preschool teacher threw the chair on purpose.
Bedford County preschool teacher arrested on aggravated child abuse charges, Brendan Tierney reports.
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 8:46 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:56 AM CST
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WARTRACE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A three-year-old girl had to be taken to the hospital after deputies said she was hit in the head with a metal chair her preschool teacher threw at her.

The Bedford County Sheriff’s Department said the incident happened on Dec. 28 at the Stay-N-Play Learning Preschool in the Bell Buckle area.

The teacher, Camryn Faye Hunter, 22, was arrested on aggravated child abuse charges. Deputies said Hunter first told her bosses the girl fell and hit her head, but the classroom security cameras showed a very different story.

“There were children in each area of the room,” Detective Savanah Martin said. “The victim was behind a table. The teacher just stood up and picked a chair up over her head and threw it straight at the little girl.”

“I was speechless,” Detective Martin said about watching the video. “I couldn’t believe it and couldn’t understand why because it didn’t look like the child was doing anything out of the ordinary that she shouldn’t have been.”

Detective Martin said the girl had a bruise and knot between her eyes from being hit with the chair. They were not able to get Hunter to give a reason for throwing the chair.

“I don’t believe it was an accident at all,” Detective Martin said. “There is no way it could’ve been an accident.”

Efforts to reach Hunter for a response have been unsuccessful.

“It’s just horrifying and terrifying at the same time,” Belt Buckle resident Bridget Dube said. “I’m so blessed that I can stay home with my children and not send them into the care of somebody else.”

“We kind of pride ourselves on having those old-time values,” Dube said. “It is just very sad to hear something like that would happen out in Bedford County.”

Preschool owner Tammy Craig released a statement about the incident that said, “We followed every state protocol. The teacher was terminated immediately from the daycare. We turned it over to authorities immediately, and they are handling the rest of the case.”

Detective Martin said the preschool is fully cooperating with the investigation and even called DCS to report the issue themselves. Hunter had been asked to leave the school before deputies could arrive on the scene, but she was arrested for her actions later in the afternoon.

A Tennessee Department of Children’s Services source said the preschool is in good standing and has no previous violations.

A DCS spokesperson released a statement Thursday morning, saying the department is currently working with the Department of Human Services to investigate the incident. The spokesperson said they could not release details of an ongoing investigation.

The preschool remains open and is committed to caring for its children, Craig said.

“There was no way they could’ve known when they hired her that that was going to happen,” Detective Martin said. “There are bad employees at every workplace.”

Hunter was taken into custody and has been released on a $10,000 bond. She is due in court on Jan. 18.