Three Children, Three Adults Dead in Shooting at Nashville Christian School
Three children and three adult staff members are dead following a school shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday morning. Officials said a suspect — 28-year-old Nashville area resident Audrey Hale — is also dead, and “multiple patients” have been reported following the shooting.
A hospital spokesperson confirmed to Rolling Stone that three pediatric patients with gunshot wounds were taken to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where they were pronounced dead after arrival.
The six victims fatally shot by the active shooter at Covenant School, a private Christian school at Covenant Presbyterian Church, are identified as students Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney — one was age 8, the others age 9; the adult staff members were substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, age 61, the head of the school Katherine Koonce, 60, and school custodian Mike Hill, 61, per the Metro Nashville Police Department.
During a Tuesday afternoon media briefing, Nashville Chief of Police John Drake offered an update on the shooter, saying that Hale had legally purchased seven guns from various gun stores in Nashville. Three of those weapons were used in Monday’s shooting. Hale apparently kept the guns hidden in the family’s home unbeknownst to Hale’s parents, who, according to Drake, believed their child shouldn’t own guns — Drake said Hale was being treated for an undisclosed “emotional disorder.”
Police also said there currently remains no motive for the attack but added that the building was the target, not specific students or staff. “This school, this church building, was a target of the shooter,” Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron said, “but we have no information at present to indicate that the shooter was specifically targeting any one of the six individuals who were murdered.”
On Monday afternoon, police officials provided more details on the shooter throughout three separate media briefings. Hale, who authorities said identified as transgender, left a manifesto that pertained to the date of the incident and a “map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.” Officials confirmed it was a targeted attack, and another location was mentioned within the information officials uncovered. Still, they believe this was a “lone assailant,” though the investigation is ongoing. It’s unclear what pronouns Hale was using at the time of death.
“We’ve identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, 28-year-old that lived in the Nashville area. We have investigations ongoing now at the residence on Brightwood Avenue,” Drake said in its third briefing on Monday afternoon. “We have made contact with the father that lived at that residence and are putting together more intimate information. We’ve also determined there were maps drawn to the school in detail of surveillance, entry points etc. We know and believe that entry was gained through shooting through one of the doors is how they actually got into the school.”
The shooter died after exchanging gunfire with police, Metro Nashville Police (MNPD) said in a statement. During its first media briefing, Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron said police received a call on Monday morning at 10:13 a.m. about an active shooter at the school. Officers entered the first story of the school to begin clearing it when they heard shots coming from the second level. “They immediately went to the gunfire. When the officers got to the second level, they saw a shooter and female who was firing,” he said. “The officers engaged her. She was fatally shot by responding police officers.” He added that the shooter had “at least two assault-type rifles and a handgun.”
In a second briefing, Drake said the children had been identified, and their family members notified. As for more information on the shooter, he said, “From my initial findings is that at one point, she was a student at that school. But unsure what year, all of that, but that’s what I’ve been told so far.”
Drake was joined by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch and District Attorney General Glenn Funk, who spoke of their involvement. “As [MNPD] investigate the homicides, then we felt it was most appropriate for them to continue that investigation,” Raush, who said Funk asked TBI to assist, stated. “We will assist in our role as an independent oversight on the officer-involved situation and so that that will be the role of TBI.”
“I came out on the scene today because our current operating procedure is that when an officer is involved in a shooting that TBI comes out,” Funk said. “And I knew that this was a unique case. And I wanted to make sure that everything was handled appropriately.”
President Biden also addressed the tragedy. He commended the police and said the White House is monitoring the situation. “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart… ripping at the very soul of our nation,” he said, calling on Congress to pass his assault weapons ban. “It’s about time that we began to make some more progress, but there’s more to learn. But I just wanted to send my concern hearts out to so many parents out there,” Biden said.
During the first media briefing, Aaron said one officer was also injured during the incident.
FBI and ATF Nashville special agents have also responded to the scene and are assisting local authorities.
This is a developing story…