‘It Could Happen at Any School’: Remembering Nashville Students, Faculty Killed in Covenant Shooting
On Monday, the Nashville community was left shocked and grieving after the Metro Nashville Police Department confirmed the identities of six victims killed in a mass shooting at The Covenant School in the Green Hills area of the city. “I have four grandkids here. I mean, I can be thankful, but I am so sad for these parents and kids,” Kathy Thoreson, who lives close enough to have heard the gunfire, told local news affiliate WKRN. “It’s very tragic. It’s two blocks from our house. It could happen at any school.”
The victims include three young students of the private, Christian institution and three adults who worked there. Two of the children were nine years old and one was eight, according to MNPD Chief John Drake. They were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. (The school has around 200 students, from preschool through sixth grade.) The deceased faculty members were substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, head of school Katherine Koonce, 60, and school custodian Mike Hill, 61.
On Facebook, Tim Dunavant, pastor of the Hartsville First United Methodist Church, recalled hiring Mike Hill years ago when he ran the kitchen at The Covenant School. “I don’t know the details yet,” Dunavant wrote. “But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives. I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he’s the kind of guy that would do that.”
Of Katherine Koonce, a friend named Dean Crowe wrote on Facebook, “I know her entrance into heaven was abundant. But here we on Earth we are devastated. Please pray for her husband and family.” Another acquaintance, Martha Duff, posted a Facebook update saying that Koonce was a “hero” to her. “She was a brilliant advocate for the nurturing education of children,” Duff wrote. She added: “I joked that we were going to be best friends when we retired.” Mika Edmonson, a reverend at Koinonia Church in Nashville, tweeted that he had worshipped with Koonce on Sunday. “Today, she went to be with the savior she loved while protecting the children she loved,” he wrote.
One of the children killed, Hallie Scruggs, was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, lead pastor of Covenant Presbyterian, the church affiliated with The Covenant School. His most recent Facebook post is an update about taking the job there in 2018, and the thread now includes condolences for the family’s loss.
“Praying for your family. RIP beautiful angel,” wrote a well-wisher. Another commented, “We are absolutely grieving for all the families involved and your church.”
None of the victims’ family members could immediately be reached for comment.
Police fatally shot alleged suspected shooter Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old from Nashville, who authorities said identified as transgender and whom officials believe to be a former student at Covenant.
This story is developing…
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