Nashville Police announced on Monday they responded to a shooting at a private elementary school and preschool as officials confirmed three children and three adults died.
Officials identified the child victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, saying they are all aged 9. The adult victims were identified Cynthia Peak, age 61; Katherine Koonce, age 60; and Mike Hill, age 61; according to a post on Twitter.
Police Chief John Drake told reporters that the shooter was identified as Audrey Hale and that “she identified as transgender, yes,” when asked about whether she had. “At one point she was a student at that school,” he added hours after the shooting. “But unsure what year … but that’s what I’ve been told so far.”
Social media profiles of the alleged shooter show that Hale used “he/him” pronouns. A LinkedIn profile said that Hale had a freelance illustration and graphic design business and had previously attended Nossi College of Art in Tennessee.
“We now know that there are three students who were fatally wounded as well as three adults inside the school. We are working to identify those victims. Including the shooter, a total of seven persons were killed as a result of this morning’s incident at the school,” police spokesman Don Aaron said. “Three students who were shot are deceased. Three staff members who were shot are deceased,” he continued to say.
Initially, officials did “not know who she is,” Aaron told reporters at a press conference. Later, the Nashville Metro Police Department wrote on social media that the suspect was identified as a 28-year-old Nashville woman, but no name was provided.
“At one point she was a student at that school,” Nashville police Chief John Drake told reporters later on Monday. “There was a vehicle nearby that gave us a clue to who she was.”
The suspect had two rifles and a handgun, Aaron said. He did not provide more details about the weapons.
The tragedy unfolded over roughly 14 minutes. Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 10:13 a.m.
Officers began clearing the first story of the school when they heard gunshots coming from the second level, Aaron said. Two officers from a five-member team opened fire in response, fatally shooting the suspect at 10:27 a.m., Aaron said. He said there were no police officers present or assigned to the school at the time of the shooting because it is a church-run school.
The Covenant School’s victims were pronounced dead at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. One officer had a hand wound from cut glass.
According to its website, Covenant School is a Christian school for pre-K through sixth grade. Local media reported that the school ran an active shooter training program last year.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed that its agents are responding to the scene of the school shooting. It said that there is “no current threat to public safety” at this time.
A number of elected officials reacted to the shooting on Monday. Republican Gov. Bill Lee told news outlets that he was “closely monitoring” the situation, while Democratic state Rep. Bob Freeman, whose district includes The Covenant School, called Monday’s shooting an “unimaginable tragedy.”
“In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting,” Mayor John Cooper said on Twitter. “My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you.”
“Chuck and I are heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville. My office is in contact with federal, state, & local officials, and we stand ready to assist. Thank you to the first responders working on site. Please join us in prayer for those affected,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in a statement.
“The House Democratic Caucus is praying for the children and their families who were shooting victims at the Covenant School. Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons says, ‘Our thoughts are with the families of the entire school community and surrounding neighborhood,'” the House Democratic Caucus also said in a statement.
The White House confirmed in a statement that President Joe Biden was briefed about the shooting. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden will now attempt to get Congress to pass another “assault weapons ban” in the wake of the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times