Three children and three adults were fatally shot and killed after a 28-year-old opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. According to authorities, the suspect, who was heavily armed, had once attended the same school.
While the motive for the attack isn’t known, police discovered detailed hand-drawn maps of the school, which included various entry points for the building. The assailant, who was later killed by police, also left behind a “manifesto”, along with other texts, which are now being examined by investigators.
According to police chief John Drake, the suspect is 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who resides in the Nashville area. He also revealed that the suspect identified as transgender and used female pronouns.
However, it was later discovered that Hale had used male pronouns on a LinkedIn page that listed recent jobs in food delivery and graphic design.
Video footage of the incident, which shows the suspect blasting the glass doors with a semi-automatic rifle, was later released. In the video clip, Hale could be seen roaming the halls wearing a white t-shirt, black vest, camouflage plants, and a red baseball cap.
In a news conference that took place in the early evening. Drake said that police are currently working on a theory on what might have triggered the shooting and that they will make an announcement as soon as possible. He also revealed that Hale had no prior criminal history.
In a subsequent television interview, Drake stated that investigators believe that the attack was precipitated by some “resentment” that the suspect felt for having to attend the same school in his younger years.
However, he did not disclose whether or not the resentment has anything to do with the school’s Christian orientation or with the suspect’s gender identity. While the school was his target, the individuals that were shot were allegedly targeted at random.
The Police Response
The local police department received calls about there being a shooter at the school at approximately 10:13 a.m. Arriving officers also reported hearing gunfire from the school’s second floor.
A five-member team was later deployed to the building. At approximately 10:27 a.m., two of the officers from the team shot the suspect in the lobby area of the school; he was later pronounced dead.
The victims have since been identified as William Kinney, Hallie Scruggs, and Evelyn Dieckhaus, all nine years old, and Cynthia Peak, 61, Mike Hill, 61, and Katherine Koonce, 60, all three of whom were part of the school’s staff.
The Christian Covenant School, which was founded in 2001, is a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church and is located in the Green Hills area. According to the school website, there are approximately 200 students from preschool to sixth grade.
John Cooper, the mayor of Nashville, has since expressed sympathy for the victims on social media.
So far in the U.S., there have been 89 school shootings, according to the School Shooting Database. In 2022, there were 303 incidents, which was higher than any other year.