The Metro Nashville Police Department identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, while the six victims have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus (9), Hallie Scruggs (9), William Kinney (9), Cynthia Peak (61), Katherine Koonce (60), and Mike Hill (61).
Hale was reportedly armed with two assault-style rifles and one handgun.
At a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, Chief John Drake of the MNPD said there is no information to indicate Hale was specifically targeting any one of the six victims, but rather that the location itself appeared to be the target.
Police said investigators tracked down Hale’s address and searched their home on Brightwood Avenue in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood where they reportedly found detailed maps drawn of the school, including surveillance and entry points, as well as a manifesto.
Chief Drake said Tuesday, Hale legally bought seven firearms from five different gun stores in the area. Three of those guns were used in Monday’s shooting and investigators believe Hale hid several weapons in the home they shared with their parents. Hale was also reportedly under doctor’s care for an “emotional disorder” and their parents assumed they only owned one gun, which Hale later sold.
The chief added there are no laws in place that would have prevented Hale from having weapons, even with certain mental health issues.
Police also searched Hale’s vehicle which was left in the school parking lot and found “additional material written by Hale.”
Chief Drake said Hale attended The Covenant School at one time and had no criminal history. Drake also called the shooting a targeted attack, but police have yet to determine a motive at this time.
Chad Scruggs, Senior Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church, confirmed his daughter Hallie Scruggs was killed in the shooting. He has since released the following statement:
“We are heartbroken. She was such a gift. Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.”
The family of Evelyn Dieckhaus also released a statement, describing the 9-year-old as a “shining light.”
“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this happened. Evelyn was a shining light in the world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve,” said the Dieckhaus family.
Koonce was identified as the Head of School, while Peak was a substitute teacher and Hill was the school’s custodian, according to police.
Metro police said the shooting began at 10:13 a.m. as Hale drove their Honda Fit to the school and shot their way through a side door of the school, before making their way to the second floor, firing multiple shots. The police department released video Monday night showing Hale pulling into the parking lot and shooting their way through the school doors.
The police department also released photos showing a bullet hole in a squad car windshield, the school’s side doors completely shot out, and windows shot out from the second story of the school. Police said Hale fired shots from the second floor at arriving officers.
According to police, officers went into the school building and ran toward the sound of gunfire. Two officers met Hale on the second floor and fatally shot them. Those officers have since been identified as Officer Rex Englebert, a four-year MNPD veteran, and Officer Michael Collazo, a nine-year MNPD veteran.
By 10:27 a.m., police said Hale was deceased.
Metro police have since released footage from Englebert and Collazo’s body-worn cameras from when they entered the building and confronted Hale. You can watch the bodycam video here – viewer discretion is advised.
According to police, both Englebert and Collazo are trying to decompress and make sense of the whole situation. Chief Drake said he also spoke with President Joe Biden, while The White House said the president also reached out to Englebert and Collazo, thanking them for their bravery and quick response to the shooting.
Chief Drake said by the time he arrived on scene, the three children had already been transported to the hospital. However, he found the other victims spread out in different places throughout the building.
Koonce was found in a hallway and Chief Drake said it’s possible she may have run toward Hale, but couldn’t say for sure. Hill was reportedly killed when Hale shot their way through the side door, having been hit by the bullets and shattered glass, according to police.
A spokesperson with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt confirmed to News 2 that three children, later identified as Dieckhaus, Scruggs, and Kinney, were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds and died from their injuries.
Each of the six victims is said to have died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to Davidson County Medical Examiner Feng Li who performed the autopsies on Tuesday.
A reunification center was set up at Woodmont Baptist Church for parents to meet their children who attend The Covenant School.
Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, issued the following statement on the school shooting:
“As a parent, as an educator, as a human being, I’m grieving today over the tragic murder of children and school staff right here in our community. My heart goes out to the entire Covenant School community and the parents grieving the unimaginable loss of life today.
“We have been in close contact with the MNPD throughout the day, and we are providing whatever support we can to assist in their response. This is a traumatic event for the entire community, and our student support services team will be working to help our students and staff process this situation in the days to come.
“We don’t know all of the details of how or why this happened, and we may never fully know. At Metro Schools, we have invested considerable resources to strengthen security at our facilities in response to the far too many, far too often instances of school shootings across the nation over the years. We will continue to reinforce our safety protocols and monitor and follow best practices on keeping students safe from harm.”
Mayor John Cooper took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the shooting, tweeting, “In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you. As facts continue to emerge, I thank our first responders and medical professionals.”
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.