Nashville school shooting: Police seize guns at home of attacker

  • Published
Media caption,

Police released CCTV images showing the shooter gaining entry to the school

Three children and three adults have been killed in a shooting by an ex-student at a school in the US city of Nashville, Tennessee.

The attack took place at The Covenant School, a private Christian school for students aged three to 11. The three pupils who died were all aged nine.

Police said the suspect, armed with three guns, gained entry by shooting through a door at the school.

New video footage shows officers racing through the school to find the shooter.

The child victims have been named as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney.

The adult victims were named as Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was shot dead by police.

There has been some confusion about Hale's gender identity - with police initially describing the attacker as a woman, and later saying that Hale identified as transgender.

A police spokesperson told the Washington Post that Hale "is a biological woman who, on a social media profile, used male pronouns".

Hale, who had no criminal record, was a former student at the school and officers said they believe "resentment" may have been a motive.

The shooter was armed with three guns, including a semi-automatic rifle. A search of the suspect's home led to officers seizing more firearms.

Police also found a manifesto, a detailed map of the school, and a plan for other attacks, including on a Nashville mall.

First call

The incident unfolded on Monday morning and police received the first call about the shooting at 10:13 local time (15:13 GMT).

Police said the suspect drove to the school and got in by firing through one of the school doors, which were all locked.

Surveillance footage released by Nashville police shows Hale using a gun to gain entry by shattering glass panes on the front doors, then wandering the school's deserted corridors - at one point walking past a room labelled "Children's Ministry".

The shooter is seen wearing what looks like a protective vest and carrying an assault-style rifle in one hand, with a second, similar weapon also visible hanging from the left hip.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Vigils took place at the Woodmont Christian Church

As police cars arrived, Hale fired on them, striking one in the windscreen, said police.

Body camera footage released by police on Tuesday shows officers rushing inside and confronting the suspect. Hale was shot and killed by police at 10:27 local time.

Police spoke with the attacker's father during a search of a nearby home that was listed as the shooter's address.

It is where officers found a manifesto and "a map of how all of this was going to play out," said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.

Police also found additional weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun and a second shotgun.

Hale had reportedly messaged a former middle school basketball teammate 15 minutes before the attack, writing: "I've left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen."

Hale's mother, Norma Hale, told ABC News: "It is very, very difficult right now", before asking for privacy.

Media caption,

Survivor of Illinois shooting makes angry plea in Nashville

The Presbyterian-affiliated Covenant School is located in the upmarket Green Hills neighbourhood, south of central Nashville.

In a statement, the school said they are "grieving tremendous loss and are in shock".

The mother of one pupil said her son had been left traumatised. "I think he's doing better now that he knows that the shooter is dead," Shaundelle Brooks told BBC News.

Hours after the shooting, a memorial service for the victims was held at the nearby Woodmont Christian Church.

Senior minister Clay Stauffer tearfully said that Evelyn Dieckhaus's sister, who is 11, had plans to be baptised in a few weeks, according to local outlet the Tennessean.

Evelyn's sister cried as she said, "I don't want to be an only child."

President Joe Biden called the shooting a "family's worst nightmare".

"We have to do more to stop gun violence," he said, once again urging Congress to pass tougher gun control laws. "It is ripping our communities apart, and ripping at the very soul of this nation."

The attack was America's 129th mass shooting of 2023, according to Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that tracks gun violence data.

According to data compiled by Education Week, there have been 12 school shootings that have resulted in deaths or injuries in the US this year up until the end of last week.

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