In the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting that took place at a private Christian school in Nashville, two police officers are being commended for their courage and swift action. The horrifying incident left six individuals dead and a community shaken. Investigators suggest that the attack was premeditated.
On Monday morning, Metro Nashville police officers Rex Engelbert, who has served for four years, and Michael Collazo, with nine years of experience, were among the first responders to arrive at Covenant School's campus. They responded to a call received at 10:13 a.m. about an active shooter situation, as reported in a statement from the police department.
Officials have verified that the attacker, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student of the school, gained entry by shooting a glass door. Tragically, three adults and three children lost their lives in the assault. Officers Engelbert and Collazo confronted the shooter on the second floor of the school building, ultimately killing the suspect. By 10:27 a.m., the attacker was pronounced dead.
The gender of the shooter remains uncertain. Initially, the police referred to the attacker as female, but later stated that the individual identified as transgender. CNN stated that a police spokesperson confirmed Hale used male pronouns on social media profiles.
During the attack, the shooter was armed with two "assault-type rifles" and a pistol, according to Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron. On Tuesday, authorities released body-camera footage from Engelbert and Collazo, capturing their encounter with the assailant.
The video, posted to YouTube, garnered numerous comments commending the officers for their bravery. One commenter, a 20-year military veteran, remarked on their valor, training, and performance, suggesting it as a model for other agencies.
The police department's Twitter page also received a wave of praise for the officers. One individual noted the officers' professionalism and lack of hesitation, calling them heroes.
The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, Hallie Scruggs, 9, William Kinney, 9, Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61. In a statement to PEOPLE, Covenant School expressed their grief and shock, emphasizing their focus on supporting students, families, faculty, and staff as they begin the healing process.
The Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a mass shooting as any incident where four or more individuals are shot, regardless of the number of fatalities, reported 128 mass shootings in 2023 as of Monday morning.