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What we know about the deadly shooting at a Nashville elementary school

Nashville Police Chief John Drake, center, speaks at a news briefing on Tuesday at the entrance to the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn.
Seth Herald
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Getty Images
Nashville Police Chief John Drake, center, speaks at a news briefing on Tuesday at the entrance to the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn.

Updated March 28, 2023 at 10:01 PM ET

Nashville, Tenn., authorities on Tuesday released graphic body camera footage showing the fatal confrontation between police and an armed assailant who attacked a grade school on Monday morning.

Six people — including three children — were killed in the shooting, and the suspected attacker was killed by police within minutes of the first call of an active shooter.

Audrey Hale, whom police identified as the shooter, had bought seven firearms — including the three guns used in the attack — legally and had been in treatment for an emotional disorder, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday.

The shooting occurred at the Covenant School, a private elementary school on the grounds of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville's Green Hills neighborhood.

"Our community is heartbroken," the school said in a statement on Monday. "We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church."

The massacre drew messages of sympathy from politicians, including President Biden and others across the U.S., and it reignited calls for Congress to do more to prevent school shootings.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 130 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year.

Families leave a reunification center in Nashville on Monday after three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at the Covenant School.
John Amis / AP
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AP
Families leave a reunification center in Nashville on Monday after three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at the Covenant School.

Here's what we know about the Nashville shooting and those who died:

How the shooting unfolded

Authorities say they received the first call of an active shooter at the Covenant School at 10:13 a.m. local time.

Hale, a 28-year-old from the Nashville area, was a former student of the school. Authorities initially identified Hale as a woman but later clarified that Hale used he/him pronouns.

Surveillance footage shows Hale driving to the school in a Honda Fit. Dressed in camouflage-style pants, a white T-shirt, a red cap and a black vest, Hale shoots out the glass of a side door and crawls through the opening to access the building. The shooter was armed with two AR-style guns — a rifle and a pistol — as well as a handgun, investigators said.

Local police arrived at the school within minutes of the first 911 call.

Clergy embrace during a community vigil at Belmont United Methodist Church in the aftermath of school shooting in Nashville on Monday.
John Bazemore / AP
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AP
Clergy members embrace during a community vigil at Belmont United Methodist Church in the aftermath of the school shooting in Nashville on Monday.

Body camera footage released Tuesday shows officer Rex Engelbert arriving at the school, grabbing his weapon from the back of his vehicle and encountering a woman who appears to be a staff member.

She tells him, "The kids are all locked down, but we have two kids that we don't know where they are." She also describes the layout of the school and says children are upstairs.

Engelbert and at least two other officers begin searching the school's first floor as an alarm blares. They check several rooms, including what appear to be classrooms. Some doors are locked, and the rooms are dark.

Muffled gunshots can be heard in the background, and Engelbert and the other officers rush upstairs to the second floor.

The gunshots grow louder, and Engelbert enters an atrium and encounters the shooter standing near a window. Engelbert fires four times, and the shooter falls to the ground.

Robin Wolfenden prays Tuesday at a makeshift memorial for victims outside the Covenant School building at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tenn., a day after a shooting at the school.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
A day after the shooting at the Covenant School, Robin Wolfenden prays at a makeshift memorial for the victims outside the school building.

Body camera footage from a second officer, Michael Collazo, shows him entering the school on the first floor with a group of other officers.

Collazo and the other officers reach the second floor, where one says, "We've got one down," as loud gunshots are heard.

He is just a few steps behind Engelbert as the group enters the atrium.

After Engelbert shoots Hale, officers rush the suspect, and Collazo fires four more times.

Engelbert is a four-year veteran of the force, and Collazo is a nine-year veteran. The officers shot and killed Hale at 10:27 a.m. — 14 minutes after the first emergency call.

Authorities said Hale had also been shooting at responding officers through a second-story window.

Drake, the police chief, said the two officers were trying to "decompress" and "make sense of all of this" following the shooting. Drake said he had also spoken with Biden, who told him he intended to reach out to the officers too.

The victims

On Monday afternoon, police identified the three students and three staff members who were killed.

  • Evelyn Dieckhaus, age 9, was a third-grader at the Covenant School, and her sister was a fifth-grader, according to The Tennessean. At a vigil, Evelyn's sister cried as she said, "I don't want to be an only child."
  • Hallie Scruggs, age 9, was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to CBS News.
  • William Kinney, age 9
  • Cynthia Peak, age 61, was a substitute teacher, according to authorities. Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, said Peak was a close friend of his wife, Maria.
  • Katherine Koonce, age 60, is identified on the school's website as the head of the Covenant School. Gov. Lee said Koonce was also a family friend.
  • Mike Hill, age 61, worked as a janitor at the school, police said. "We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years," his family said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. "He was a father of seven children ... and 14 grandchildren. He liked to cook and spend time with family."
  • A police spokesperson said Tuesday that investigators had no evidence that any of the victims were specifically targeted.

    The investigation

    Police say they don't yet have a motive for the shooting.

    Investigators were reviewing writings by Hale, who had attended the Covenant School, and had interviewed the suspect's parents.

    Drake said during a Tuesday press briefing that the shooter had legally purchased seven firearms from five local gun dealers. Three of those weapons were used in Monday's attack.

    According to Drake, Hale's parents thought their child shouldn't own any weapons and believed Hale had sold the only gun that Hale owned.

    They also told police that Hale was under a doctor's care for an emotional disorder.

    The shooter apparently also had detailed maps drawn of the school that identified entry points.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Joe Hernandez
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