On Tuesday afternoon, the Metro Nashville Police Department addressed “rumors” that have circulated in the wake of the tragedy. One such rumor, according to Mayor John Cooper includes misinformation that the shooter — identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, of Nashville — targeted specific individuals.
“We have no evidence that specific individuals were targeted by the shooter,” Cooper said. “The school was targeted, but we have no indication that individuals were targeted.”
Hale, who was also killed during the shooting, was reportedly armed with two assault-style rifles and one handgun. On Tuesday, MNPD Chief John Drake explained that Hale had obtained the three weapons used in the shooting legally and that they were among seven total Hale purchased locally.
Drake explained that police were unaware Hale “even existed,” much less that Hale was under mental duress. According to Drake, Hale was under doctor’s care for an emotional disorder.
“[Hale’s] parents were under the impression that [Hale] did not own any more weapons. But [Hale] had been hiding weapons in the house,” said Drake.
The chief said that on Monday, Hale was seen leaving their family home and was asked about a red bag they were carrying but that, ultimately, Hale’s family — who, the chief acknowledged, are also grieving the loss of a loved one — didn’t think anything of it.
Police have given unclear information on Hale’s gender. For hours Monday, police identified the shooter as a woman. Later in the day, the police chief said Hale was transgender. After the news conference, Aaron declined to elaborate on how Hale identified.
In an email Tuesday, police spokesperson Kristin Mumford said Hale “was assigned female at birth. Hale did use male pronouns on a social media profile.” Later Tuesday, at the news conference, Drake referred to Hale with female pronouns.
Police said investigators tracked down Hale’s address and searched their home in the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood where officers reportedly found detailed maps drawn of the school, including surveillance and entry points, as well as a manifesto. Police also searched Hale’s vehicle, which was left in the school parking lot and found “additional material written by Hale.”
Chief John Drake of the MNPD said Hale, who had no criminal history, attended the Covenant School at one time.
The six victims, including three students and three staff members, have been identified as:
- Evelyn Dieckhaus – age 9
- Hallie Scruggs – age 9
- William Kinney – age 9
- Cynthia Peak – age 61
- Katherine Koonce – age 60
- Mike Hill – age 61
Koonce was identified as the Head of School, while Peak was a substitute teacher and Hill was the school’s custodian, according to police.
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt confirmed to WKRN that three children, later identified as Dieckhaus, Scruggs, and Kinney, were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds and died from their injuries.
Metro police said the shooting began at 10:13 a.m. as Hale drove a Honda Fit to the school and shot through a side door, before going 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 at arriving officers from the second floor.
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 Rex Englebert, a four-year MNPD veteran, and Michael Collazo, a nine-year MNPD veteran.
By 10:27 a.m., police said Hale was deceased.
Metro police have also 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, though viewer discretion is advised.
A citywide candlelight vigil is scheduled to be held Wednesday in Nashville’s One Public Square Park, according to Mayor Cooper. The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. local time and will “mourn and honor the precious lives lost at the Covenant School.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.