Former student kills six in shooting at Nashville school

Police named the gunwoman as Audrey Hale, who they said was transgender and carried out the attack after drawing a detailed map of The Covenant School in Nashville and staking out the building.

The victims were identified as nine-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, as well as Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60 and Mike Hill, 61.

The website for The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school founded in 2001, lists Katherine Koonce as the school’s principal as of July 2016.

Cynthia Peak was a substitute teacher and Mike Hill was a custodian, according to investigators.

Police fatally shot the suspect 14 minutes after the initial emergency call was made.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake did not give a specific motive, but gave chilling examples of the planning of the attack.

A child cries on the bus leaving The Covenant School (Nicole Hester/The Tennessean/AP)
A child cries on the bus leaving The Covenant School (Nicole Hester/The Tennessean/AP)

“We have a manifesto, we have some writing that we are reviewing that pertains to this date, the actual incident,” he said.

“We have a drawn map of how all this was going to happen.”

He told NBC News investigators that they believe Hale had “some resentment about having to go to that school.”

Police said Hale entered shooting through the glass doors and was armed with two “assault-style” weapons as well as a handgun, two of which are believed to have been legally obtained in the Nashville area.

They added that a search of Hale’s home turned up a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other unspecified evidence.

The students held hands as they walked to the school buses, which took them to a nearby church to meet their parents.

Rachel Dibble, who was at the church as the families found their children, described the scene as everyone being in “complete shock”.

“People trembled involuntarily,” he said. “The kids…started the morning in their cute uniforms, they probably had some Froot Loops, and now their lives have completely changed.”

Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden called the shooting “the family’s worst nightmare” and again implored Congress to pass a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons.

APTOPIX Nashville school shooting
Children from The Covenant School are taken to Woodmont Baptist Church after the shooting at their school (Jonathan Mattise/AP)

“It is tearing at the soul of this nation, tearing at the very soul of this nation,” he said.

The president ordered the American flag to fly at half staff at all federal buildings and spoke with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper about the shooting, authorities said.

Founded as a ministry of the Covenant Presbyterian Church, which is affiliated with the conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church in America, The Covenant School is located in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood, just south of downtown Nashville.

Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake speaks to the media (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP)
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake speaks to the media (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP)

The school has about 200 students from kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as approximately 50 staff members.

A statement from the school read: “Our community is heartbroken.

“We are grieving a tremendous loss and we are in shock at the terror that destroyed our school and church.

“We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff and beginning the healing process.”


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