Covenant School shooting leaves 6 dead
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Three children and three adult employees were killed Monday at a Nashville school in one of Tennessee’s deadliest school shootings. The suspected shooter, identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was fatally shot by officers responding to the scene at Covenant School.
Emergency vehicles and helicopters flooded the Green Hills neighborhood, which is home to several schools, a number of businesses and residential areas. In the chaotic hours after the shooting, scores of parents gathered at Woodmont Baptist Church to see their children again. For some, that moment never came.
Several vigils were held across Nashville Monday night to honor the victims and their families.
Video footage released late Monday shows the first moments of filming. Hale pulls into the school parking lot, approaches a door that shoots out of the glass, and then patrols the hallways, gun raised.
Follow here for live updates as we learn more.
Filming of Covenant School:What we know so far
Experts: Nashville police acted quickly and saved lives
Police response to mass casualty incidents comes under increasing scrutiny after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas while officers stood outside. A senior Texas police official later said there were enough armed officers wearing body armor to stop the shooting three minutes after it began.
Nashville was different.
Todd McGhee, a 24-year veteran with the Massachusetts State Police, said MNPD’s response was a prime example of how a quick response can save lives.
“I would say they did everything under extreme circumstances,” said McGhee, who trains in defensive tactics and gun safety. “These first responding officers were the exemplary response to how active a gunner’s response should be.
“It could have been just as bad as Uvalde considering the firepower Hale had.”
Police released body camera footage
Police released a six-minute compilation video of body camera footage from officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo.
The video begins as Englebert arrives on site, where an employee outside the school directs officers to the second floor of the school. The police quickly worked their way through the first floor, clearing classrooms and encouraging each other to move faster.
As Englebert moves to the second floor, eight shots are heard in the hallway. The officer turned the corner and fired four shots. Officers approached Hale, who was lying on the ground by a large window overlooking the parking lot. Hale is visible in the video but is partially obscured by a blurry box.
At about the four minute mark, the video switches to Collazo’s body cam. As he climbs the stairs to the second floor, an officer looks exuberant in front of him.
“We’ve got one more,” he says before walking down the hall to the right.
Collazo follows closely behind Englebert, then moves to his right and fires four shots at Hale.
“Suspects done, suspects done,” calls Collazo over the radio.
Daughter of senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church among victims
Hallie Scruggs was a student at Covenant School. According to a statement from his former Dallas church, Hallie was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church.
“We love the Scruggs family and join them in mourning the loss of their precious daughter, Hallie,” said Mark Davis, senior pastor of Park Cities Presbyterian Church, in a statement of comfort and hope we sorely need.
The pediatric surgeon remembers that he left school shortly before shooting
Britney Grayson was moments away from filming Monday.
She and her husband, Micah Wilfong, spoke to students Monday morning about their missionary trip to Kenya. After the conversation, they left the school. Britney, a pediatric surgeon, pulled out her cell phone and answered a few text messages while sitting in her car.
Audrey Hale was already in the parking lot.
Grayson pulled out of the parking lot around 10:12 a.m., she said.
At 10:13 a.m., Hale fired the first shot at the school.
“As a pediatric surgeon, my first thought was, if I had been there, I could have helped those victims right away,” Grayson said. “It’s hard because if I had been there, maybe I could have been shot.”
“Evil is very real”
Zion Presbyterian Church senior pastor Paul Joiner, speaking slowly, deliberately and somberly, said many members of the church were close to fellow Covenant Presbyterians “up the road.” The Zion community, which mirrors the Covenant community, is also home to a school, Zion Christian Academy, which serves over 520 students in Pre-K-12 grades.
“This one is arriving near home,” Joiner said. “We have become aware of the reality that we spend most of our lives denying that this world is not safe. Evil is very real. Bad people do bad things. For some of us, these are our friends.”
“The lead pastor lost a daughter today,” he said. “This is another PCA community school just up the road. This is a deep break in our lives.”
Police: Covenant School shooting was ‘calculated and planned’
Metro Nashville Police Department issued a news release late Monday saying investigators found writings revealing the attack was “calculated and planned.”
Chief John Drake previously said during a news conference that officers searched the home she shared with her father on Brightwood Avenue and found a “manifesto” and drawn maps of the school showing entrances and surveillance cameras.
Officers also found a sawed-off shotgun and a second shotgun in the home.
MNPD said Audrey Hale fired at officers from a second-story window as they arrived at the school on Monday morning.
These officers broke into the school and eventually shot Hale.
A press release identified the officers who fired the fatal shots as Rex Englebert, a four-year MNPD veteran, and nine-year veteran Michael Collazo.
Who were the victims of the Covenant School shooting?
Police identified the victims of Monday afternoon’s shooting as:
- Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, student
- Hallie Scruggs, 9, college student
- William Kinney, 9, college student
- Katherine Koonce, 60, the principal
- Cynthia Peak, 61, substitute teacher
- Mike Hill, 61, school caretaker
Filming of Covenant School:Who are the victims?
Who was the shooter?
According to police, Hale was a former student at Covenant School. According to a police spokesman, Hale was an illustrator and graphic designer who used the pronouns he and him. Police initially identified Hale by his birth name and gender.
How did the shooter get into school?
Don Aaron, a spokesman for the MNPD, said Hale reportedly entered a side entrance with two assault rifles and a handgun around 10:13 a.m. Monday. Police said Hale drove to campus, parked, and entered after shooting out the glass in double doors.
“The response from the police department was quick,” Aaron said. “Officials entered the first floor of the school and began to clear it. They heard shots from the second level; they immediately went to gunfire.”
As officers approached, Hale shot them from a second-story window, MNPD said. Police said Hale was armed with “substantial ammunition.”
Hale was fatally shot by a five-man police team in a second-story lobby at approximately 10:27 a.m.
Watch: Nashville police release footage of a school shooting
Hale fired multiple rounds into glass doors to break into the school. Surveillance video shows him carrying and aiming an assault rifle while walking the hallways. Minutes later, the video breaks off.
Nashville and Tennessee leaders respond to school shooting
Nashville Police Chief John Drake said he became emotional witnessing the aftermath of the shooting.
“I was literally brought to tears to see that as the children were being led out of the building,” Drake said during a news conference. He praised the police’s quick response. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Nashville Mayor John Cooper thanked first responders and medical workers in a statement on the “tragic morning” that Nashville “joined the dreaded, long list of communities to witness a school shooting.”
“My heart goes out to the families of the victims,” Cooper said. “Our whole city is behind you.”
In a Twitter statement, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he was closely monitoring the situation and asked the public to “pray with us for the school, community and community in Nashville.”
“This is shocking”Nashville officials respond to Covenant School shooting
President Joe Biden wants Congress to act on gun control
President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. Biden believes recent legislative action has not been enough.
“It’s heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare,” Biden said Monday afternoon. He commended the MNPD’s quick response and urged Congress to take action to pass a ban on assault weapons.
“We must do more to stop gun violence,” Biden said. “It’s tearing our communities apart… tearing at the soul of our nation. We must do more to protect our schools from being turned into prisons.”
Shooting refreshes the weapon control boost:“How many more classrooms have to become crime scenes?”
First Lady Jill Biden also addressed the shooting as she opened the National League of Cities event in Washington.
“I really am at a loss for words and our children deserve better,” she said. “We all stand with Nashville in prayer.”
What is the Covenant School?
Founded in 2001 as a ministry of the Covenant Presbyterian Church, the Covenant School has students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Enrollment varies between 195 and 210. The school employs approximately 33 faculty members.