KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Authorities on Tuesday charged a Maryville College football player with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Central High School cheerleader.

William Riley Gaul, 18, is charged with killing Emma Walker, 16, and faced going before a magistrate, according to KSCO spokesperson Martha Dooley.

Deputies arrested the Knoxville resident in the parking lot of the Woodlands Apartments around 11 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities then drove Gaul to the City County Building for processing early Wednesday.

KCSO said detectives had Gaul under surveillance because they believed he was preparing to destroy evidence related to the homicide.

Photos: Pictures of Emma Walker

Authorities did not say late Tuesday what, if any, relationship existed between the two, but Gaul tweeted about her Monday and Tuesday. Acquaintances said they'd been boyfriend and girlfriend.

Tuesday night he tweeted: "I love you Emma, I can't be around any of that yet, it's too soon. I know you know I'm dying to be there but understand I can't. I love you."


Gaul graduated this year from Central High School, where he played football for the Bobcats. Walker was found dead from a gunshot wound in her home North Knox County on Monday morning.

Family and friends of Walker gathered for a memorial Tuesday night at Central High School in Fountain City. They asked that journalists not attend.

Gaul will face a court appearance in the coming days in Knox County General Sessions Court. He could submit to a preliminary hearing or waive the charge to the grand jury for further review.

Authorities are holding Gaul on $750,000 bond in the Knox County Jail.

The Maryville Scots football team lists Gaul as a freshman wide receiver. According to the Scots, he most recently played Nov. 12 for the Scots against Greensboro in North Carolina.

Friends of Walker posted condolences on Facebook on Monday and Tuesday.

A crowdfunding page was established to assist with Walker's funeral expenses.