Nashville school shooting: Suspect fired indiscriminately at victims, police say – National


The shooter who killed three college students and three employees members at a Christian school in Nashville legally purchased seven weapons in recent times and hid the weapons from their dad and mom earlier than finishing up the assault by firing indiscriminately at victims and spraying gunfire by means of doorways and home windows, police stated Tuesday.

The violence Monday at The Covenant School was the newest school taking pictures to roil the nation and was deliberate fastidiously. The shooter had drawn an in depth map of the school, together with potential entry factors, and carried out surveillance of the constructing earlier than finishing up the bloodbath, authorities stated.

The suspect, Audrey Hale, 28, was a former scholar at the school. Hale didn’t goal particular victims — amongst them three 9-12 months-olds and the pinnacle of the school — however did goal “this school, this church constructing,” police spokesperson Don Aaron stated at a information convention Tuesday.

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Hale was below a health care provider’s look after an undisclosed emotional dysfunction and was not recognized to police earlier than the assault, Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake stated at the information convention.

If police had been informed that Hale was suicidal or homicidal, “then we’d have tried to get these weapons,” Drake stated. “But because it stands, we had completely no thought who this individual was or if (Hale) even existed.”

Tennessee doesn’t at present have a “purple flag” regulation, which lets police step in and take firearms away from individuals who threaten to kill.

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On Tuesday night time, Tennessee’s governor stated one of many victims, 61-12 months-outdated substitute instructor Cynthia Peak, was an in depth buddy of his spouse, Maria, and that the 2 had been scheduled to have dinner after Peak taught that day.

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“Maria awakened this morning with out considered one of her greatest mates,” Gov. Bill Lee stated, including that his spouse as soon as taught with Peak and one other sufferer, Katherine Koonce, and the ladies and “have been household mates for many years.”

Hale legally purchased seven firearms from 5 native gun shops, Drake stated. Three of them had been utilized in Monday’s taking pictures. Police spokesperson Brooke Reese stated Hale purchased the weapons between October 2020 and June 2022.

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Hale’s dad and mom believed their little one had offered one gun and didn’t personal any others, Drake stated, including that Hale “had been hiding a number of weapons inside the home.”

Hale’s motive is unknown, Drake stated. In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Drake stated investigators don’t know what drove Hale however imagine the shooter had “some resentment for having to go to that school.”

Drake, at Tuesday’s information convention, described “a number of completely different writings by Hale” that point out different places and The Covenant School.

Asked at a Senate listening to whether or not the Justice Department would open an investigation into whether or not the taking pictures was a hate crime focusing on Christians, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated federal officers had been working with native police to determine a motive.

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Police have launched movies of the taking pictures, together with edited surveillance footage that exhibits the shooter’s automobile driving as much as the school, glass doorways being shot out and the shooter ducking by means of considered one of them.

Additional video, from Officer Rex Engelbert’s bodycam, exhibits a lady assembly police exterior as they arrive and telling them that each one the kids had been locked down, “however we have now two youngsters that we don’t know the place they’re.”

The girl then directs officers to Fellowship Hall and says individuals inside had simply heard gunshots. Three officers, together with Engelbert, search rooms one after the other, holding rifles and saying themselves as police.

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The video exhibits officers climbing stairs to the second flooring and coming into a foyer space, adopted by a barrage of gunfire and an officer yelling twice: “Get your arms away from the gun.” Then the shooter is proven immobile on the ground.

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Police recognized Engelbert, a 4-12 months member of the pressure, and Michael Collazo, a 9-12 months member, because the officers who fatally shot Hale. The White House stated President Joe Biden spoke Tuesday with Drake, Engelbert and Callazo to thank them for his or her bravery.

Police response instances to school shootings have come below better scrutiny after the assault in Uvalde, Texas, during which 70 minutes handed earlier than regulation enforcement stormed the classroom. In Nashville, police stated about eight minutes handed from the preliminary name to when officers arrived at the scene.

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Surveillance video exhibits a time stamp of simply earlier than 10:11 a.m., when the attacker shot out the doorways. Police stated they received the decision a couple of shooter at 10:13. Aaron stated in an electronic mail Tuesday that dispatch information present officers arrived on campus shortly earlier than 10:22.

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At about 10:24, officers engaged the suspect, the chief stated in the course of the information convention. Within two minutes of that, the suspect was down, in accordance with the dispatch information.

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“There had been police automobiles that had been hit by gunfire. As officers had been approaching the constructing, there was gunfire going off,” Drake stated.

“We really feel, our response proper now, from what I’ve seen, I don’t have a selected drawback with it. But we all the time wish to get higher. We all the time wish to get there in two or three minutes,” he stated, including that visitors was “locked down” at the time.

Traffic was certainly stopped alongside a close-by two-lane street with a turning lane as police tried to weave their option to the school.

Police have given unclear data on Hale’s gender. For hours Monday, police recognized the shooter as a lady. Later within the day, the police chief stated Hale was transgender. After the information convention, Aaron declined to elaborate on how Hale recognized.

In an electronic mail Tuesday, police spokesperson Kristin Mumford stated Hale “was assigned feminine at beginning. Hale did use male pronouns on a social media profile.” Later Tuesday, at the information convention, Drake referred to Hale with feminine pronouns.

Authorities recognized the lifeless kids as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The adults had been Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

The web site of The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school based in 2001, lists a Katherine Koonce as the pinnacle of the school. Her LinkedIn profile says she has led the school since July 2016. Peak was a substitute instructor, and Hill was a custodian, in accordance with investigators.

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Koonce was remembered as somebody who would run towards hazard, not away from it.

“I assure you if there have been youngsters lacking (in the course of the taking pictures), Katherine was on the lookout for them,” buddy Jackie Bailey stated. “And that’s in all probability how she received in the best way — simply attempting to do one thing for someone else. She would surrender her personal life so as to save someone else’s.”

Founded as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, the school is within the prosperous Green Hills neighborhood simply south of downtown Nashville. It has about 200 college students from preschool by means of sixth grade and roughly 50 employees members.

Before Monday’s violence in Nashville, there had been seven mass killings at Okay-12 colleges since 2006 during which 4 or extra individuals had been killed inside a 24-hour interval, in accordance with a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University. In all of them, the shooters had been males.

The database doesn’t embrace school shootings during which fewer than 4 individuals had been killed, which have change into much more frequent in recent times. Last week alone, for instance, school shootings occurred in Denver and the Dallas space inside two days of one another.