As per the authorities, a shooting at a private religious school in Nashville has resulted in the death of three children and three adults.
Two officers shot and killed the shooter, who the police stated was a 28-year-old white individual from the Nashville area. The police initially identified the shooter as a female, but later, a spokesperson informed WPLN’s Alexis Marshall that the individual was assigned female at birth and preferred the he/him pronouns.
The incident took place at The Covenant School, where the deceased children were students and the adults were staff members, as per Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron’s statement during a press briefing on Monday.
The victims have been identified by the authorities as of Monday afternoon.
- Evelyn Dieckhaus, age 9
- Hallie Scruggs, age 9
- William Kinney, age 9
- Cynthia Peak, age 61
- Katherine Koonce, age 60
- Mike Hill, age 61
As per the school’s website, Katherine Koonce was the head of the school. The shooting began at 10:13 a.m., with the shooter entering the school through a side entrance and making her way from the first floor to the second floor while firing multiple shots, according to Don Aaron, Nashville police spokesperson.
Nashville police shared pictures of the incident on Monday evening and revealed that the shooter had entered the building by shooting out a door’s glass. On the second floor, the shooter shot at police vehicles from a window. The shooting took place in an upper part of the school in a “lobby-type area,” where the shooter had two assault-style rifles and a pistol. The shooter was deceased by 10:27 a.m., with two of the weapons being legally acquired, according to authorities.
The shooter was identified by the police as Audrey Hale of Nashville, a former student with no criminal record. The authorities have not revealed any possible motive for the attack. Nashville Police Chief John Drake stated that Hale had several rounds of ammunition and was “prepared for a confrontation with law enforcement,” with maps of the school and its entry points.
The parents of the deceased children have been informed, as per Drake, who expressed his emotions over the tragic incident earlier, saying that he was moved to tears when he saw the children being escorted out of the building.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s emergency departments received five victims. The hospital’s spokesperson confirmed NPR that three children and two adults, who were transported to the hospital, had passed away.
Don Aaron stated that he was not aware of any other gunshot victims from the shooting. However, one of the responding officers had suffered a cut from broken glass.
A reunification center for parents and students, with mental health specialists available, was established nearby.
As per its website, The Covenant School is a private school linked with the Covenant Presbyterian Church, catering to students from preschool to sixth grade. Don Aaron stated that on a typical day, the school would have about 209 students and 42 staff members.
Mayor John Cooper expressed his sympathy to the families of the victims and said Nashville has unfortunately joined a long list of cities affected by school shootings.
Tennessee State Representative Bob Freeman, who represents the district where the school is located, called the shooting an unimaginable tragedy for the victims, families, teachers, staff, and the entire community.
State Senator Jeff Yarbro also shared his condolences and expressed his frustration with the acceptance of gun violence in society.
President Biden referred to the shooting as a family’s worst nightmare and called for action to stop gun violence in the country, which has seen 130 mass shootings this year alone, according to the national Gun Violence Archive website.