State Watch

Here’s what we know about the Nashville school shooting

CLARIFICATION: Police in Nashville say the assailant in the school shooting identified as transgender and used he/him pronouns. This story has been updated to reflect the latest information from police.

A former student shot and killed three children and three adult staff members at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday before being killed by police.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the shooting, which marks the 17th school shooting in the United States since the start of the year, according to a Washington Post analysis.

The shooting occurred at the Covenant School, a private Christian school with grade levels from Pre-K to sixth grade, totaling about 200 students, according to its website.

Here’s what we know about the Nashville school shooting.

3 children killed were all 9 years old

The Metro Nashville Police Department released the names and ages of the victims Monday evening.

The three children who died from gunshot injuries were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, and were all 9 years old. The adult staff members killed in the shooting were Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

Drake said at Monday’s press conference that the three child victims were identified and that their parents have been notified.

“Right now I will refrain from saying the ages, other than to say, I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building,” he said.

Officials said that a reunification area was established at a nearby church after the shooting.

Shooter’s motive unclear

Police identified the shooter as Nashville resident Audrey Hale, 28. Hale had no criminal history.

Police said they would continue to investigate the motive, which was still unclear.

“There is some theory to that,” said Nashville Chief of Police John Drake at a press conference when asked if the attack was linked to the shooter’s identity as a transgender person. “We’re investigating all the leads and once we know exactly we’ll let you know.”

A police spokesperson told The Tennessean that Hale used he/him pronouns.

Drake said the shooter may have been a student there at some point.

He said that a car near the scene gave law enforcement “clues” into who Hale was.

Hale entered the school through a side entrance, police said. Law enforcement officials said that they responded to a call about the shooting at 10:13 a.m. Monday and cleared the first floor of the school. Officers then heard gunshots on the second floor, where they engaged with the shooter, who was then shot and killed by police.

Officials said Hale was dead by 10:27 a.m.

Police found manifesto, map of school

Drake said police found a statement, writings and a map of the school at the home where Hale lived. 

“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date,” Drake said. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all gonna take place.”

Drake also said the material indicated that Hale considered a different target for the attack but was deterred by security. He said it was thought to be a solo attack.

Police said it was believed that Hale gained entry into the school by shooting open a side door.

What US officials are saying

President Biden said on Monday that the shooting was “sick” and noted that it was “a family’s worst nightmare,” while reiterating his calls for gun reform and an assault weapons ban.

“We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart. It’s ripping at the very soul of the nation. We have to do more to protect our schools so they aren’t turned into prisons,” Biden said in remarks at a women’s business summit.

Biden said that it’s time for more “progress” to be made and called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban. The suspect was reportedly carrying assault-style weapons and a handgun.

Both of Tennessee’s Republican senators, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, tweeted that they were “heartbroken” about the shooting, and said they were in touch with local and federal officials to offer assistance.

“I’m grateful to law enforcement and first responders for their heroic actions,” Hagerty said in a tweet.

“Please join us in prayer for those affected,” said Blackburn.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre blasted Republicans in Congress, asking how much longer will it take for GOP lawmakers to “step up” to pass gun reform.

“How many more children have to be murdered before Republicans in Congress step up and act to pass the assault weapons ban, to close loopholes in our background checks, or to require the safe storage of guns?” Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing.

Updated at 9:02 a.m.

Tags Nashville shooting President Joe Biden

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