Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence.
The 28-year-old who killed three children and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville was under care for an emotional disorder and had legally bought seven firearms that were hidden at home, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday.
The parents of the shooter, Audrey Hale, spoke to police and said they knew Hale had bought and sold one weapon and believed that was the extent of it.
“The parents felt (Hale) should not own weapons,” the chief said.
On Monday morning, Hale left home with a red bag, and the parents asked what was inside but were dismissed, Drake said.
Three of the weapons were used in the attack Monday. The seven weapons were purchased between October 20, 2020 and June 6, 2022, police spokesman Don Aaron said.
Police also said Tuesday they did not know a motive. The shooter targeted the school and church in the attack but did not specifically target any of the six people killed, Aaron said. Hale’s writings mentioned a mall near the school as another possible target, he added.
Live updates: Nashville Covenant School shooting
A child weeps while on the bus leaving the Covenant School following Monday's mass shooting.
The news conference came a day after Hale, a former student at The Covenant School, stormed into the elementary school and killed six people before being fatally shot by responding police officers.
The attack was the 19th shooting at an American school or university in 2023 in which at least one person was wounded, according to a CNN tally, and the deadliest since the May attack in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 dead. There have been 42 K-12 school shootings since Uvalde.
The victims included three 9-year-old students: Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs, the daughter of lead church pastor Chad Scruggs. Also killed were Cynthia Peak, 61, believed to be a substitute teacher; Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old head of the school; and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian, police said.
“All of Tennessee was hurt yesterday,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a video statement Tuesday. The governor said his wife Maria Lee was best friends with one of the victims, Peak, who was supposed to come over to the Lees’ home for dinner Monday evening.
“We can all agree on one thing – that every human life has great value. We will act to prevent this from happening again. There is a clear desire in all of us, whether we agree on the action steps or not, that we must work to find ways to protect against evil,” Lee said in the five-minute video.
Over the course of Tuesday, the details of the heinous attack came into view as police released bodycam footage of the fatal shooting of the attacker, Hale’s childhood friend revealed the shooter’s disturbing messages and those who knew the victims reflected on their lost loved ones.
Police release bodycam footage of shooting
Earlier Tuesday, police released body-camera footage from the two officers who rushed into the school on Monday and fatally shot the mass shooter.
The footage is from the body-worn cameras of officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, who police said fatally shot the attacker on Monday at 10:27 a.m. The video begins with Engelbert arriving at the school to find a woman outside who says the school is on lockdown but there are two children unaccounted for.
Another school official is seen handing the officer a key to open a door into the building, and a group of five officers enter the school amid wailing fire alarms and immediately go into several empty classrooms rooms to look for the suspect.
They heard gunfire on the second floor and so hustled up the stairs as the bangs grew louder, the video shows. The officers approached the sound of gunfire and Engelbert, armed with an assault-style rifle, rounded a corner and fired multiple times at a person near a large window, who dropped to the ground, the video shows.
Collazo then pushed forward and appeared to shoot the person on the ground four times with a handgun, yelling “Stop moving!” The officers finally approached the person, moved a gun away and then radioed “Suspect down! Suspect down!”
The video adds further insight into the timeline of the shooting and the police response. The first 911 call about the shooting came in at 10:13 a.m., and the shooter was killed 14 minutes later, according to police. The bodycam footage of Engelbert entering the school and shooting the attacker lasts about three to four minutes.
The Covenant School is a private Christian school educating about 200 students from Pre-K through 6th grade. The school is a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, its website states.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper told CNN the swift police response prevented further disaster.
“It could have been worse without this great response,” the mayor of the police response. “This was very planned and numerous sites were investigated.”
The police chief similarly praised the response as swift.
“I was hoping this day would never ever come here in the city. But we will never wait to make entry and to go in and to stop a threat especially when it deals with our children,” Drake said in a Monday news conference.
Shooter had maps of the school
This undated picture provided by the Metro Nashville Police Department shows Audrey Elizabeth Hale.
Police said the shooting was targeted, closely planned and outlined in documents from the shooter.
Hale left writings pertaining to the shooting and had scouted a second possible attack location in Nashville, “but because of a threat assessment by the suspect – there’s too much security – decided not to,” Drake said on Monday.
The shooter left behind “drawn out” maps of the school detailing “how this was all going to take place,” he added.
The writings revealed the attack at the Christian school “was calculated and planned,” police said. The shooter was “someone that had multiple rounds of ammunition, prepared for confrontation with law enforcement, prepared to do more harm than was actually done,” Drake said.
Three weapons – an AR-15, a Kel-Tec SUB 2000, and a handgun – were found at the school, he said. A search warrant executed at Hale’s home led to the seizure of a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other evidence, according to police.
“They found a lot of documents. This was clearly planned,” Mayor Cooper said. “There was a lot of ammunition. There were guns.”
Police have referred to Hale as a “female shooter,” and at an evening news conference added Hale was transgender. Hale used male pronouns on a social media profile, a spokesperson told CNN when asked to clarify.
Hale graduated from Nossi College of Art & Design in Nashville last year, the president of the school confirmed to CNN. Hale worked as a freelance graphic designer and a part-time grocery shopper, a LinkedIn profile says.
A timeline of the shooting and response
Nashville police release security footage in school shooting
01:48 - Source: CNN
Information from police and from the shooter’s childhood friend helped illuminate a timeline of the deadly attack.
Just before 10 a.m. Monday, the shooter sent an ominous message to a childhood friend, the friend told CNN on Tuesday. In an Instagram message to Averianna Patton, a Nashville radio host, just before 10 a.m. Monday, the shooter said “I’m planning to die today” and that it would be on the news.
“One day this will make more sense,” Hale wrote. “I’ve left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”
Patton told CNN’s Don Lemon she was the shooter’s childhood basketball teammate and “knew her well when we were kids” but hadn’t spoken in years and is unsure why she received the message. Disturbed by its content, she called a suicide prevention line and the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office at 10:13 a.m.
At that very minute, police in Nashville also got a 911 call of an active shooter inside the school and rushed there.
The moment school shooter Audrey Hale arrived at the Covenant School was captured in 2 minutes of surveillance video released by Metro Nashville Police.
Armed with three firearms, the shooter got into the school by firing through glass doors and climbing through to get inside, surveillance video released by Metro Nashville Police shows. Pointing an assault-style weapon, the shooter walked through the school’s hallways, the video shows.
As the first five officers arrived, they heard gunfire from the second floor. The shooter was “firing through a window at arriving police cars,” police said in the news release.
Police went upstairs, where two officers opened fire, killing the shooter at 10:27 a.m., Aaron, the police spokesperson, said.
How to get help
In the US: Call or text 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.Globally: The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide have contact information for crisis centers around the world.
After the shooter was dead, children were evacuated from the school and taken in buses to be reunited with their families. They held hands and walked in a line out of the school, where community members embraced, video showed.
“This school prepared for this with active shooter training for a reason,” Nashville Metropolitan Councilman Russ Pulley told CNN. “We don’t like to think that this is ever going to happen to us. But experience has taught us that we need to be prepared because in this day and time it is the reality of where we are.”
Patton, meanwhile, had “called Nashville’s non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home,” she told CNN affiliate WTVF. An officer did not come to her home until about 3:30 p.m., she said.
Three children and three adults were killed
Students from the Covenant School hold hands Monday after getting off a bus to meet their parents at a reunification site after a mass shooting at the school in Nashville.
Two Covenant School employees are among the victims of Monday’s mass shooting, according to the school.
Katherine Koonce was identified as the head of the school, its website says. She attended Vanderbilt University and Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville and got her master’s degree from Georgia State University.
Sissy Goff, one of Koonce’s friends, went to the reunification center after the shooting and suspected something was wrong when she didn’t see Koonce there.
“Knowing her, she’s so kind and strong and such a voice of reason and just security for people that she would have been there in front handling everything, so I had a feeling,” Goff said.
She said Koonce was a calming influence and even got a dog named “Covie” who greeted students before and after school.
“Parents are so anxious, kids are so anxious, and Katherine had such a centering voice for people,” Goff said.
Mike Hill was identified in the staff section of the Covenant Presbyterian Church’s website as facilities/kitchen staff. Hill, 61, was a custodian at the school, per police. A friend confirmed his image to CNN.
Hill was the father of seven children and had 14 grandchildren, his family said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WSMV. He loved to cook and spend time with his family, it added.
“We would like to thank the Nashville community for all the continued thoughts and prayers. As we grieve and try to grasp any sense of understanding of why this happened, we continue to ask for support,” the statement said.
His daughter, Brittany Hill, said in a Facebook post on Monday that her dad “absolutely loved” his job.
“I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution,” she said. “I am so sorry for the loss of those children,” she added.
Cynthia Peak, 61, was believed to be a substitute teacher, police said Monday.
The family of Evelyn Dieckhaus, one of the 9-year-old victims, provided a statement to CNN affiliate KMOV.
“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve,” the family said.
The Covenant School issued a statement Monday night grieving the shooting.
“Our community is heartbroken. 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,” the school said in a statement.
“Law enforcement is conducting its investigation, and while we understand there is a lot of interest and there will be a lot of discussion about and speculation surrounding what happened, we will continue to prioritize the well-being of our community.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support we have received, and we are tremendously grateful to the first responders who acted quickly to protect our students, faculty and staff. We ask for privacy as our community grapples with this terrible tragedy – for our students, parents, faculty and staff,” the statement said.
Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children
Firearms were the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2021, for the second year in a row, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Firearms first surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in 2020, after a sharp increase in the first year of the pandemic. Deaths from both firearms and motor vehicle crashes increased again in 2021, CDC data shows.
Cooper, the Nashville mayor, said he is “overwhelmed at the thought of the loss of these families, of the future lost by these children and their families.”
“The leading cause of kids’ death now is guns and gunfire and that is unacceptable,” Cooper said.
In the wake of the attack, President Joe Biden called on Congress to act on gun control measures, but Republicans legislators showed little willingness to address the issue.
“We owe these families more than our prayers. We owe them action,” Biden said.
“People say, why do I keep saying this if it’s not happening?” he continued. “Because I want you to know who isn’t doing it. Who isn’t helping. To put pressure on them.”
CNN’s Amara Walker, Tina Burnside, Amanda Jackson, Sara Smart, Jamiel Lynch, Curt Devine, Sarah Dewberry, John Bonifield and Audrey Ash contributed to this report.
A federal law enforcement source verified to NBC News that no direct motive has been established in the investigation and suggested that the driving force of the attack was similar to previous school shootings in which the assailant was drawn to other mass killers.Who are the victims of the school shooting in Tennessee? ›
Police have identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; Mike Hill, 61; William Kinney, 9; Katherine Koonce, 60; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Hallie Scruggs, 9.Who is the kid shooting in Sons of Anarchy? ›
Matthew Jennings was the troubled son of Darvany Jennings on the FX original series Sons of Anarchy. Played by American actor Tate Berney, Matthew was responsible for the shooting at the Catholic school. He met his demise during his only appearance, on the episode "Straw" in the series' sixth season.Why are they the Nashville Predators? ›
The franchise held a vote with the fans to choose a team name. The three candidates that were chosen were: The "Ice Tigers", "Fury", and "Attack". Another choice, "Predators", was added to the vote. Predators won the vote, and the new franchise was named the Nashville Predators.What was it about Nashville that made it an ideal spot for the development of the country music recording industry? ›
A lot of Nashville's music history is due to the strong African-American influences in the past. So many well-known musicians have come from, lived in, or had great influence in the city of Nashville, making it one of the musical hot spots in the country.How many school shooting have there been in 2023? ›
In 2023, the K-12 database has recorded 89 gun-related incidents at a school so far, nearly one for every day this year. It finds that, including the deaths in Nashville this week, there have been 74 people killed or injured this year alone, not including the shooters.What is the 129th mass shooting of 2023? ›
One nation, under gun violence: Nashville school shooting is America's 129th mass shooting in 2023 as nation is on course for the MOST mass shootings ever. America is on course for having the bloodiest year yet, as the Mass Shooting of a private school in Nashville brings the grim total up to 129 this year.Who are the victims of the Nashville shooting? ›
The children, all aged nine, have been named as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The three employees killed were Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Michael Hill, 61. Police said they did not believe any of the victims had been specifically targeted.Who raises Jax sons? ›
Sons of Anarchy: Why Wendy Was Given Custody Of Jax's Kids (Not Margaret) Sons of Anarchy's Tara could have given Margaret Murphy custody of Jax's kids, but she chose Wendy Case instead – and it was the best decision.Who snitched in Sons of Anarchy? ›
He establishes a business partnership with Jax and Nero, and demands that before anyone does anything, they need to talk to him first. Despite initially being an ally for SAMCRO, Barosky was revealed to be the rat helping out the Lin Triad in their war with SAMCRO.
In the FX drama Sons of Anarchy she plays the role of Dr Tara Knowles, the manipulative wife of Jax Teller who fakes a pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. But in real life the truth couldn't be further from fiction for Maggie Siff who has just announced she is pregnant with her first child.What does Smashville mean in Nashville? ›
“It was where the big hits of hockey met the smash hits of country music. That was the theme that was percolating,” he said. But the concept of Smashville was as a place “where anything can happen.” “Smashville was this crazy little town.What is the average age of the Nashville Predators? ›
Since becoming the National Hockey League's 27th team on May 4, 1998, the Nashville Predators have evolved from a young expansion franchise to a model of consistency as one of just five teams to reach the postseason seven of the last eight seasons and one of three to post seven consecutive 40-win seasons.Why is Nashville airport called BNA? ›
The airport code is BNA, which stands for Berry Field Nashville in honor of Col. Harry S. Berry, administrator of the original airport project in the 1930s. The Nashville International Airport is located at One Terminal Drive, Nashville, TN 37214 - 8 miles east of downtown Nashville.What is the racial makeup of Nashville Tennessee? ›
White: 62.3% Black or African American: 27.35% Two or more races: 3.67%
Nashville's first “celebrity,” the noted frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett was known far and wide for his colorful stories and fiddle playing.When was the Pearl High School shooting? › What year was the Columbine school? › Who is the most notorious murders in Tennessee? ›
- The Brutal Murder of Kerrick Majors. ...
- The Lillelid Murders. ...
- The Kingston Courthouse Shooting. ...
- The Campbell County High School Shootings. ...
- The Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting. ...
- Shooting and Killing of McDonald at Central High School. ...
- 2011 Memphis Serial Murders.
Paul Dennis Reid
This country music hopeful-turned convicted murderer is considered the most infamous serial killer in the history of Tennessee.
Instead, in a prearranged scheme, Chibs shot Happy in the arm to make it appear as if Jax defiantly refused to meet Mr. Mayhem and escaped. This allowed Jax to hit the road one last time. On his way out of Charming, he stopped to address his father along the highway where he died.Who becomes VP after Jax dies? ›
In the Sons of Anarchy finale, before Jax put his suicide plan into motion, he left his place as President to Chibs, who chose Alex “Tig” Trager as his VP.Who is the lady Jax keeps seeing? ›
The homeless woman was played by Olivia Burnette, and appeared a total of 11 times, showing up throughout Sons of Anarchy with Jax and Gemma the most.Why did Jax have juice killed? ›
The reason that Jax wants to kill Juice is because Juice betrayed him (again). Last year, in the penultimate episode of the season, Bobby recommended that Juice take some Oxycontin to deal with his pain.Why did Jax let juice go? ›
The episode starts with Jax seemingly letting Juice go after finding out that Juice tried to use the club as leverage to gain protection from the Mayans.Why did Jax have TIG killed? ›
Giving Tig To August Marks
Tig paid the price, unfortunately, with the death of his daughter. Due to this, it seems that Tig didn't deserve any more punishment. Even after they kill Pope, August Marks, who is Pope's successor, still tells Jax they need to kill Tig. Jax doesn't hesitate to give up Tig.
In order to drive a wedge between the two, Tara faked a pregnancy, and then — after an altercation in which Gemma kicked her in the stomach — used a pre-bloodied rag to subsequently fake a miscarriage. When her scheme was exposed, she was left with few options and even fewer allies.Why does Tara pretend to be pregnant? ›
Last week, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) learned that Tara (Maggie Siff) faked her pregnancy — and a miscarriage — as part of an elaborate scheme to keep Gemma (Katey Sagal) from being able to gain custody of Jax and Tara's sons should Tara end up in jail for the charges pending against her.
Tara Wallace Gave Birth to Her Third Child With Peter Gunz.What was the significance of the Civil War Battle of Nashville? ›
The Union victory at Nashville shattered Hood's Army of Tennessee and effectively ended the war in Tennessee. Following Nashville, the fall of the Southern Confederacy was now only a matter of time. The Union victory at Nashville shattered Hood's Army of Tennessee and effectively ended the war in Tennessee.Why was the Nashville Convention important? ›
The convention ultimately (June 10) adopted 28 resolutions defending slavery and the right of all Americans to migrate to the Western territories. The delegates were ready to settle the question of slavery in the territories, however, by extending the Missouri Compromise line west to the Pacific.What is the real reason Nashville is called the Music City? ›
In 1925, the establishment of radio station WSM and its launch of the broadcast that would be called the Grand Ole Opry further secured Nashville's reputation as a musical center and sparked its durable nickname of Music City.Why was Nashville the Athens of the South? ›
While Nashville acquired its nickname as the "Athens of the South" PRIMARILY because of its dedication to higher education, it was perpetuated in a few other ways—from the building of the Greek-Revival-styled State Capitol to the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, which brought about Nashville's iconic Parthenon building ...What town in Tennessee lost almost all of its soldiers during the Civil War? ›
Around midnight the Federal army began to withdraw from the smoldering and gruesome battlefield. Left behind was a small town and a battered Confederate army. Altogether, some 10,000 American soldiers became casualties at Franklin and about three-fourths of that number were Confederates.What was the most important Battle of the Civil War Why? ›
The Battle of Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War. With more than 50,000 estimated casualties, the three-day engagement was the bloodiest single battle of the conflict.Why did Tennessee have so many battles? ›
Tennessee's corn, cattle, and pigs provided food while Tennessee's railroads and the Tennessee River provided transportation. Union soldiers could easily live off the land in Tennessee. This made Tennessee a open target. Tennessee would be home to more battles than any other state except Virginia.Why was the convention so important? ›
The United States Constitution that emerged from the convention established a federal government with more specific powers, including those related to conducting relations with foreign governments.What role did Nashville play in the civil rights movement? ›
In 1960, Nashville students led a series of sit-ins that successfully desegregated downtown Nashville, and many of the student leaders went on to found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and play a significant role in civil rights efforts across the country.
The result of the convention was the creation of the Constitution of the United States, placing the Convention among the most significant events in American history.What is the famous street in Nashville? ›
Free Music | 365 Days a Year Honky Tonk Highway
Find yourself mesmerized by the live music and neon lights of Broadway on Honky Tonk Highway – Nashville's famous street. World-class live music plays 365 days a year on the city's main drag.
The neighborhood attracted music industry firms after WSM announcer David Cobb referred to Nashville as “Music City, USA” during a broadcast in 1950. As the moniker became widely accepted, the city rapidly grew into one of the nation's top centers for music recording and publishing.What is Nashville Downtown nickname? ›
Why Nashville is Called “Music City” Nashville is known the world over as the Music City. What is much less well known is exactly how this nickname came to be. In fact, the term was not even coined by an American!What is the Greece thing in Nashville? ›
The Parthenon stands proudly as the centerpiece of Centennial Park, Nashville's premier urban park. The re-creation of the 42-foot statue Athena is the focus of the Parthenon just as it was in ancient Greece. The building and the Athena statue are both full-scale replicas of the Athenian originals.What were the two most powerful Greek city-states? ›
Of these, Athens and Sparta were the two most powerful city-states. Athens was a democracy and Sparta had two kings and an oligarchic system, but both were important in the development of Greek society and culture.Why is there a Parthenon replica in Nashville? ›
Built at the tail-end of the 19th century for the Centennial Exposition in Tennessee, the recreated Parthenon served as the festival's art gallery and spoke to the city's self-declared reputation as the “Athens of the South.” (Not to be outdone, Memphis built a Pyramid as a reminder that the city was named after ...