NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Days after the shooting at The Covenant School, the newly-released 911 calls from inside Nashville school show a staff with great courage in the face of evil. The recordings depict a desperate situation as many gunshots are heard in the background.
The calls are difficult to listen to, especially knowing how the events unfolded throughout the day. Fear can be heard in the callers’ voices as they report an active shooter is inside the same building.
Dispatchers were getting multiple calls from different people in or near the school. The calls started coming in right before 10:13 a.m.
One woman called for help from inside the nursery.
Caller: “I am in a nursery – nursery office and it’s marked. I have locked my doors and my windows are blacked out.”
911: “Have you heard anything else since you’ve heard the shots?”
Caller: “Just the sirens and then I did hear Amy’s voice at the reception. She was like ‘I think I’m supposed to be calling’ and I said ‘yeah you are.’ So I hung up. She gets on the intercom internally and is able to tell everybody to take cover and I said you need to find somewhere to go. I’m hearing more shots upstairs.”
911: “You are hearing more shots upstairs? Okay.”
In one call, a man who identified himself as a pastor Ryan Anderson called 911 trying to get help. He was out of breath as he explained where the school was located and what he was hearing.
Pastor: “I’m in the second floor closet.”
911: “Okay, second floor closet. How many people are with you?”
Pastor: “Yes, one other person.”
911: “Alright. And did you hear the shots or see the shots?”
Pastor: “Yes, I’ve heard multiple shots. When it started, I thought it was a fire drill so I walked out of the room to go get my children and saw a person across the hallway and that’s when I heard shots and I came back and locked myself in the closet with my assistant teacher.”
Pastor: “My children are in the building, ma’am.”
911: “We’ve got a lot of officers that have been dispatched out there. We have a lot of officers on their way to you. When I say a lot, we have a lot of officers on their way to you, lights and sirens as fast as they can.
Pastor: “I understand.”
911: “What I need you to do is keep yourself safe right now.”
Dispatchers provided support and comfort for people who called in as the shooter went through the halls of The Covenant School.
In one call, a woman hid for her life as she talked to a 911 dispatcher. The woman said she was on the church side of the Covenant property and she was hearing gunshots. The dispatcher asked questions about where she was located in the building and tried to get more information. You can also hear what sounds like a fire alarm going off in the background of the phone call.
In another call, a man told the dispatcher he feared for his life.
Caller: “Oh my God.”
911: “How many gunshots have you heard?”
Caller: “Multiple. I’m in my office alone. I have the lights off. No one else is in the office. I saw one person run out and then I heard the fire alarms going off. Oh my God. I’m afraid I’m gonna die. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
911: “I’ve already had a call sent out.”
Caller: “Okay, Okay.”
In another call, a woman appeared to have run to the fire department nearby.
911: “What’s the address of your emergency?”
Caller: “There’s gunshots at the church. We can’t get through 911.”
911: “We’ve got multiple calls out there. Officers are on the way. Are you injured?”
Caller: “We’re not injured. We’re at the fire department right now. But there’s children up there.”
911: “I do have help on the way.”
The church pastor who lost his daughter in the shooting, Chad Scruggs, also called 911 at 10:22 a.m. Scruggs wasn’t in the building at the time of the shooting but told dispatch that he was trying to get there during the call.
911: “Are you inside?”
Pastor Scruggs: “No, I’m coming. I’m the lead pastor, I’m going that way now.”
911: “You may not want to go there without police or you may need to go somewhere else and wait for police. What’s your name?”
Pastor Scruggs: “Chad Scruggs, I’m getting calls from inside the church.”
911: “Like I said, do not go in there without police, you may want to wait outside.”
Pastor Scruggs: “I won’t go in there.”
911: “Go find an officer.”
Pastor Scruggs: “Yes sir, thank you.”
According to police, officers went into the school building and ran toward the sound of gunfire. Two officers met the shooter—later identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale—on the second floor and fatally shot them.