What happened in Nashville? Where was school shooting that killed three children and three adults

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Police say the suspect in the Nashville school shooting was 28-year-old former pupil Audrey Hale, who had two assault-type rifles and pistol

Three children and three adults have been killed in Nashville, Tennessee, after a shooting at a private Christian school.

Emergency services raced to The Covenant School on Monday morning, where suspect was killed by police in a confrontation after the violence. It has now been confirmed that among those killed were three nine-year-old children and three adults in their sixties.

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The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all nine years old, and Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61. The adults were the school’s top administrator, a substitute teacher and a custodian.

Police said they believe the shooter was 28-years-old Audrey Hale, who was armed with two assault-type rifles and a pistol. Officers also believe that the perpetrator was a former pupil of the school.

Police chief John Drake did not say what drove Hale to carry out the attack, although he said they found a so-called manifesto belonging to Hale as well as a map planning the shooting. After the killing, parents rushed to the school to see if their children were safe and tearfully hugged their kids, and a stunned community held vigils for the victims.

Rachel Dibble, who was at a nearby church where children were taken to be reunited with their parents, described everyone as being in “complete shock”. “People were involuntarily trembling,” she said. “The children … started their morning in their cute little uniforms, they probably had some Froot Loops and now their whole lives changed today.”

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Former pupil Audrey Hale was the school shooter in Nashville. Credit: Nashville Police DepartmentFormer pupil Audrey Hale was the school shooter in Nashville. Credit: Nashville Police Department
Former pupil Audrey Hale was the school shooter in Nashville. Credit: Nashville Police Department | Nashville Police Department

What happened?

The tragedy unfolded over roughly 14 minutes on Monday, 27 March. Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 10.13am.

Officers began clearing the first storey of the school when they heard gunshots coming from the second level, police spokesperson Don Aaron said. Police later said Hale fired at arriving officers from a second-storey window and had come armed with significant ammunition.

Two officers from a five-member team opened fire in response, killing the suspect at 10.27am, Mr Aaron said. Late on Monday night, police released approximately two minutes of edited surveillance video showing the killer’s car driving up to the school from multiple angles, including one in which children can be seen playing on swings in the background.

Next an interior view shows glass doors to the school being shot out and the killer ducking through one of the shattered doors. More footage from inside shows the killer walking through a school corridor holding a gun with a long barrel and walking into a room labelled “church office”, then coming back out.

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In the final part of the footage, the assailant can be seen walking down another long corridor with the gun drawn. Mr Aaron said there were no police officers present or assigned to the school at the time of the shooting because it is a church-run school.

Balloons and Teddy bears are left on the outside the Covenant School building at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023. - A heavily armed former student killed three young children and three staff in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack at a private elementary school in Nashville on Monday, before being shot dead by police. Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesBalloons and Teddy bears are left on the outside the Covenant School building at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023. - A heavily armed former student killed three young children and three staff in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack at a private elementary school in Nashville on Monday, before being shot dead by police. Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
Balloons and Teddy bears are left on the outside the Covenant School building at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023. - A heavily armed former student killed three young children and three staff in what appeared to be a carefully planned attack at a private elementary school in Nashville on Monday, before being shot dead by police. Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

Where was the school shooting?

The shooting happened at The Covenant School, in the affluent Green Hill neighbourhood just south of central Nashville, which has an enrolment of about 200 students from pre-school to sixth grade in recent years. It was founded as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in 2001, according to the school’s website.

The school has 33 teachers. Its website features the motto, Shepherding Hearts, Empowering Minds, Celebrating Childhood. Democratic state representative Bob Freeman, whose district includes The Covenant School, called Monday’s shooting an “unimaginable tragedy”.

Where was the US school shooting? Credit: Kim MoggWhere was the US school shooting? Credit: Kim Mogg
Where was the US school shooting? Credit: Kim Mogg | Kim Mogg

“I live around the corner from Covenant and pass by it often. I have friends who attend both church and school there,” Freeman said in a statement. “I have also visited the church in the past. It tears my heart apart to see this.”

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“Our community is heartbroken,” a statement from the school said. “We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church. We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff and beginning the process of healing.”

Audrey Hale, the suspect in the Nashville school shooting. Credit: Nashville Police DepartmentAudrey Hale, the suspect in the Nashville school shooting. Credit: Nashville Police Department
Audrey Hale, the suspect in the Nashville school shooting. Credit: Nashville Police Department | Nashville Police Department

Who is Audrey Hale?

Police have said the shooter was 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who was a former pupil at the school. They have given mixed reports about Hale’s gender.

For hours, police identified them as a 28-year-old woman and eventually identified the person as Hale. Then at a late afternoon press conference on Monday, the police chief said that Hale was transgender. After the news conference, Mr Aaron declined to elaborate on how Hale currently identified.

Authorities said Hale was armed with two “assault-style” weapons as well as a handgun. At least two of them were believed to have been obtained legally in the Nashville area. Police said a search of Hale’s home turned up a sawn-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other unspecified evidence.

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Nashville Police chief Drake said that the attack was planned with great detail. “We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” he told reporters. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”

He said in an interview with NBC News that investigators believe the killer had “some resentment for having to go to that school”.

Gun control debate

The Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit group which tracks gun violence, has counted 130 mass shootings - where at least four people are killed or injured - in the US in 2023 alone.

Tennessee’s Republican Representative Andy Ogles has received criticism after he posted a Christmas photo in 2021, showing his entire family, including children, posing with assault rifles and guns.

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