Seven Dead, Including Assailant, After Shooting at Private Nashville School
On Monday, March 27, a 28-year-old assailant opened fire on Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee – killing 6 including 3 children and 3 adults.
In a statement by a police spokesperson, the woman was able to enter the school after shooting through the glass of a locked side door. School video footage reveals the assailant walking through the first and second levels of the building, carrying two “assault-style” rifles and a pistol.
The first call reporting the attack came at 10:13 a.m. and by 10:27 a.m., the shooter was located and shot by officers. The Metro Nashville Police Department has released body cam footage of their response. The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale – believed to be a former student of the private Christian school.
In the aftermath of the gun fire, students were immediately escorted out of the school by police and driven to a nearby reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church where parents and loved ones were anxiously awaiting the arrival of their children.
That evening Covenant Presbyterian Church held a candlelight vigil for those killed only hours before. The memorial was attended by children, parents, school faculty, and other members of the community mourning the loss of lives taken too soon.
Nashville police identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all nine years old; Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher, aged 61; Katherine Koonce, aged 60; and Mike Hill, a custodian, aged 61.
Interview with Nashville Police Chief
In an NBC interview with Lester Holt, Nashville Police Chief John Drake reported what police and investigators were able to gather soon after the attack.
“There is a belief she had resentment that she had to go to that school and that’s why this incident occurred,” said Chief Blake.
He discussed a manifesto uncovered by police, containing elaborate plans of attack spots across Nashville.
“It indicates that there was going to be shootings at multiple locations and the school was one of them. There was actually a map of the school detailing surveillance entry points and how this was going to be carried out on this day,” he added.
Despite a potential “resentment” for having attended the private Christian school, police have not concluded on a motive for the shooting.
President Biden and First Lady Address School Shooting
Shortly after learning of the Nashville school shooting, Biden spoke from the White House and reiterated his calls for Congress to take legislative action, calling the attack “heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare”.
“We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart. It’s ripping at the very soul of this nation,” said Biden before he repeated his command for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, stating there must be action taken to “protect our schools”.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden also spoke on the Nashville school shooting from an event in Washington.
“While you’ve been in this room, I don’t know whether you’ve been on your phones, but we just learned about another shooting in Tennessee – a school shooting – and I am truly without words,” Jill Biden said as reports of the shooting at the Covenant School began circulating.
“Our children deserve better. And we stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer,” she added.
The White House and Democrats are once again encouraging strong gun reform in the wake of this tragedy. However, many Republicans have resisted the urge to take action from across the aisle, refusing to acknowledge the plague of gun violence in the country or offer to collaborate on potential solutions or policies to curb future gun violence in schools and communities.
Republican Tennessee Representative Andy Ogles, whose district is home to the site of the Covenant School, issued a statement in which he expressed he is “utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence” and extended his “thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.”
2023 Gun Violence in the US
Covenant School in Nashville is now among a long list of communities to experience a mass shooting. According to the Gun Violence Archive, this mass shooting marks the 130th mass shooting in America for the 2023 calendar year alone, meaning that at present the US averages more than one mass shooting per day.
The Gun Violence Archive also records that in 2023 402 children and teens have been killed due to the nation’s gun violence and an additional 957 have been injured. For nearly three years, gun violence has been the leading cause of death for children and teens – surpassing automobile accidents in 2020.
With six dead, this school shooting was the largest school shooting since Uvalde in May 2022 which left 21 people dead and 17 injured.
In a statement from Covenant School, “our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church.”
A Nashville Covenant Victim’s Fund has been created on GoFundMe to support the families of the victims affected by the attack.