Covenant School Shooting: Nashville police give update after school shooting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Monday, March 27, seven people, including the shooter, were killed in a shooting at the Covenant School in the Nashville neighborhood of Green Hills.

The six victims, three students and three staff members, have been identified as:

  • Evelyn Dieckhaus – age 9
  • Hallie Scruggs – age 9
  • William Kinney – age 9
  • Cynthia Peak – age 61
  • Katherine Koonce – age 60
  • Mike Hill – age 61

The Metro Nashville Police Department identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale.

Hale, a Nashville resident, was reportedly armed with two assault-style rifles and one handgun.

Police have given unclear information on Hale’s gender. For hours Monday, police identified the shooter as a woman. At a late afternoon press conference, the police chief said Hale was transgender. After the news conference, police spokesperson Don Aaron declined to elaborate on how Hale identified.

Audrey Hale (Courtesy: MNPD)

Police said investigators tracked down Hale’s address and searched their home in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood where they reportedly found detailed maps drawn of the school, including surveillance and entry points, as well as a manifesto. Police also searched Hale’s vehicle which was left in the school parking lot and found “additional material written by Hale.”

Chief John Drake of the MNPD said Hale attended The Covenant School at one time and had no criminal history. Chief Drake also called the shooting a targeted attack.

Chad Scruggs, Senior Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church, confirmed his daughter Hallie Scruggs was killed in the shooting. He has since released the following statement:

“We are heartbroken. She was such a gift. Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.” 

The family of Evelyn Dieckhaus also released a statement, describing the 9-year-old as a “shining light.”

“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this happened. Evelyn was a shining light in the world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve,” said the Dieckhaus family.

Koonce was identified as the Head of School, while Peak was a substitute teacher and Hill was the school’s custodian, according to police.

Metro police said the shooting began at 10:13 a.m. as Hale drove a Honda Fit to the school and shot through a side door of the school, before going to the second floor, firing multiple shots. The police department released video Monday night showing Hale pulling into the parking lot and shooting their way through the school doors.

The police department also released photos showing a bullet hole in a squad car windshield, the school’s side doors completely shot out, and windows shot out from the second story of the school. Police said Hale fired shots at arriving officers from the second floor.

According to police, officers went into the school building and ran toward the sound of gunfire. Two officers met Hale on the second floor and fatally shot them. Those officers have since been identified as Officer Rex Englebert, a four-year MNPD veteran, and Officer Michael Collazo, a nine-year MNPD veteran.

By 10:27 a.m., police said Hale was deceased.

A spokesperson with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt confirmed to News 2 that three children, later identified as Dieckhaus, Scruggs, and Kinney, were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds and died from their injuries.

Metro police have also released footage from Englebert and Collazo’s body-worn cameras from when they entered the building and confronted Hale. You can watch the bodycam video hereviewer discretion is advised.

Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, issued the following statement on the school shooting:

“As a parent, as an educator, as a human being, I’m grieving today over the tragic murder of children and school staff right here in our community. My heart goes out to the entire Covenant School community and the parents grieving the unimaginable loss of life today.

“We have been in close contact with the MNPD throughout the day, and we are providing whatever support we can to assist in their response. This is a traumatic event for the entire community, and our student support services team will be working to help our students and staff process this situation in the days to come.

“We don’t know all of the details of how or why this happened, and we may never fully know. At Metro Schools, we have invested considerable resources to strengthen security at our facilities in response to the far too many, far too often instances of school shootings across the nation over the years. We will continue to reinforce our safety protocols and monitor and follow best practices on keeping students safe from harm.”

Mayor John Cooper took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the shooting, tweeting, “In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you. As facts continue to emerge, I thank our first responders and medical professionals.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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