NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Covenant School has found itself on a growing list that no school wants to be on as the most recent scene of a mass shooting.
School officials who’ve been in this situation before are now offering their support to another grieving community.
In 1999, two gunmen opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 30, and injuring many others. Since then, 175 people have died in 15 events connected to U.S. schools.
Monday morning, the unimaginable happened. A shooter opened fire at The Covenant School, killing three children (Evelyn Diekhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, all age 9) and three adults (Mike Hill, 61; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60).
The person behind the gun would later be identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale. According to Metro police, Hale was a former student at the school and had no criminal history.
Now, the Green Hills community is working to pick up the pieces after six innocent lives were lost.
A former Columbine High School principal, Frank DeAngelis, was once in this position after the Columbine school shooting in 1999.
DeAngelis wanted to offer his words of support to Nashville.
“One of the things that I learned pretty early on is an entire community can go through it, but how people deal with that, they deal with it differently,” DeAngelis said. “And you’re going to have some people that just feel they need to talk, you’re going to have others say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it, the sooner I get back to doing what I was doing prior is going to help me heal.’ And you’re going to have some people in between.”
“One of the things that’s so difficult is they don’t even know what they need at this point,” he added.
Nearly 24 years after the Columbine High School shooting, DeAngelis continues to lead the Principal Recovery Network. The network is a team of school leaders who have found themselves at the scene of gun violence on school grounds.
DeAngelis hopes to offer resources to The Covenant School. “We’re going to reach out to see what we can do to help them and what we have is we released this last year, as a matter of fact, over at Columbine High School, the memorial, it’s called the principles recovery guide.”
DeAngelis said the recovery guide covers things like reentry to the school, working with the media, and ultimately offering a guide as someone who’s been there before, but he also recognizes the complexity of this school shooting.
“You know, one of the unfortunate things that happened at the school is they lost their leader [Dr. Katherine Koonce], and now someone coming in, but very similar to what happened at Sandy Hook,” DeAngelis said.
Moving forward, DeAngelis challenged everyone to not give up, saying, “I refuse to be hopeless, and I refuse to give in, but I think where we are at this point right now is what is the one thing that’s going to stop it? And I get asked that question all the time, and unfortunately, I don’t think there’s one thing to do to stop it.”