Updates on Nashville school shooting: police investigation continues as city mourns

By: - March 28, 2023 11:33 am

A day after a mass shooting at The Covenant School, a woman is overcome with emotion in front of an impromptu memorial. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A day after an armed shooter stalked the hallways of The Covenant School in Nashville, killing three children and three adults, the law enforcement investigation continues.

Among the victims were three nine-year-old children: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. The adults were Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; Mike Hill, age 61, a custodian; and Covenant Head of Schools Katherine Koonce, 60.

The shooter was identified as a former student Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, killed by two Metro Nashville Police Officers who responded to the scene. Hale was armed with at least two assault rifles and a handgun, police said.

People gathered Monday night in vigils across the city to mourn the tragic losses; President Joe Biden ordered U.S. flags at half staff until sunset on Friday and the Metro Nashville Police Department began releasing new details of the events last Monday. There are more public gatherings planned for today. The Legislature reconvenes and law enforcement are expected release further details.

Monday marks Nashville’s third mass shooting in six years

The violence wrought Monday inside an elementary school is Nashville’s third mass shooting in six years.

In 2018, four people were killed when an armed gunman entered a south Nashville Waffle House restaurant in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

The victims were Joe Perez Jr., Taurean Sanderlin, Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Groves.

Travis Reinking, the shooter, was sentenced to life in prison for the murders last year.

In 2017, an armed gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville, killing one person and injuring six others who had gathered their for Sunday services.

The shooter, Emanuel Kidega Samson, was sentenced to life in prison in 2019.

On Monday, the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ posted a message of sorrow on Facebook.

Police release surveillance video

Police on Monday night released a portion of school surveillance video showing Hale driving a Honda Fit through the school’s parking, past a playground of children on swing sets, before parking, shooting down a double door into the schools and roaming empty hallways.

Police reported that Hall fired through a window at arriving police officers. Two members of an officer team fired on Hale in a second floor common area. Those officers were identified as Officer Rex Englebert, a 4-year Metro Nashville Police Department veteran, and Officer Michael Collazo, a 9-year-veteran.

Police said they have also found writings from Hale, including a manifesto and detailed maps of the building housing the school, in searches of a home and car connected to Hale.

“Our community is heartbroken”

Late Monday, the school also released a statement expressing heartbreak and asking for privacy.

Report: Shooter texted friend shortly before shooting

Channel 5 also reported late on Monday that the shooter had texted a former basketball teammate in the minutes before the shooting.

At 9:57 a.m., a former middle school basketball teammate of Audrey Hale looked at her phone to find a message from The Covenant School shooter on Instagram.

She checked her Instagram. She didn’t expect a message from The Covenant School shooter.

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