Dear Commons Community,
A former student of a Nashville elementary school stormed her alma mater yesterday, killing three young children and three adults before responding police officers fatally shot her.
Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, attacked the Covenant School, a private Christian institution, with two assault-style rifles and a handgun, local police said.
In the latest mass shooting to afflict the nation, the student victims — identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney — were all just 9 years old.
Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old head of school, Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian, and Cynthia Peak, a 61-year-old substitute teacher, were also killed, Nashville police officer Don Aaron said at a press conference. As reported by various news media.
“I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.
“When we send our kids to school or to any place of safety, we expect them to live, learn, have fun and come back from that day’s experience. We don’t anticipate things like this,” John Drake, chief of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, said at the third press briefing of the day.
Authorities identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who was killed by officers at the scene. Police believe Hale was a former student of the school and said she was in possession of three weapons when she was killed: a rifle, an assault rifle-style pistol and a handgun. Police think that two of the three weapons were obtained legally in the Nashville area and that she has “no history at all” of past criminal activities, Drake said.
Police are investigating a “manifesto” they found at Hale’s house that includes a “map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.” There is no confirmed motive, Drake said, but police have a “theory that we may be able to talk about later.”
Authorities also plan to eventually release a video showing how the five officers who responded to the scene killed Hale, whom they believe gained access to the school by shooting through a door to the building.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper, who also spoke at the latest press conference, denounced the frequency of gun violence.
“The leading cause of kids’ death now is guns and gunfire, and that is unacceptable,” Cooper said. After decades of automobile accidents being the top killer of children in the U.S., the New England Journal of Medicine published findings last year that firearm fatalities were now the top cause.
“Guns are quick; they don’t give you much time,” Cooper added. “So even in a remarkably fast response, there was not enough time. And those guns stole precious lives from us today in Nashville.”
Tennessee has some of the weakest state gun laws in the country and lacks many of the safeguards wanted by gun reform advocates, including universal background checks, waiting periods for firearm purchases and assault weapon restrictions.
We are becoming numb in America to all the violence perpetrated by individuals who have easy access to guns.
Audrey Hale Caught on Security Camera at The Covenant School Just Before Shootings