In a tragic incident on Monday, a heavily armed assailant attacked a private school in Nashville, resulting in the loss of six lives, before being fatally shot by the police. Officials disclosed that the attacker had in her possession detailed maps of the school and a manifesto.
"This heinous act of violence, targeting innocent school children and their caretakers, is the worst kind of crime," expressed Glenn Funk, the District Attorney General for Nashville and Davidson County, during a press conference streamed by WSMV.
The victims of the heartrending attack at The Covenant School were identified as 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, along with Katherine Koonce, 60; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Mike Hill, 61. Koonce was the school's principal, Hill a custodian, and Peak a substitute teacher.
Rev. Dr. Mika Edmondson of Nashville's Koinonia Church paid tribute to Dr. Koonce on Twitter, mentioning their worship together just the day before the incident and how she died protecting the children she adored.
The attacker, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, identified as transgender and used he/him pronouns, according to an online profile. Law enforcement officials discovered maps and writings connected to the attack at Hale's residence and in a Honda Fit driven to the campus. Despite the elaborate planning, Hale had no criminal history or record of mental illness.
Although no specific motive was provided, Chief of Police John Drake mentioned that the shooter had "some resentment for having to go to that school." Furthermore, Drake noted that the police found a manifesto and writings indicating the attack was premeditated.
The chilling event unfolded at The Covenant School, situated at 33 Burton Hills Blvd, when police received a call at 10:13 a.m. reporting an active shooter. As officers arrived on the scene, the attacker fired on their vehicles from a second-story window. Upon entering the building, officers confronted the assailant and fatally shot them at 10:27 a.m.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the inquiry, with its director, David Rausch, appealing for prayers for the victims, calling the incident a "horrible, senseless tragedy."
President Joe Biden addressed the shooting, praising the police's prompt response, and urged Congress to pass an assault weapons ban while emphasizing the importance of mental health support for the survivors.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper echoed the president's sentiments, stating, "The leading cause of kids' death now is guns and gunfire, and that is unacceptable." Tennessee legislators also expressed their condolences and offered assistance to those affected by the tragedy.
The Covenant School is a private Christian institution, catering to students from preschool through sixth grade. The school, still reeling from the horrifying event, issued a statement expressing their grief and requesting privacy during this difficult time.