State Watch

Tennessee governor says friends killed at Nashville school, but ‘not a time for hate or rage’

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said two family friends were killed in Monday’s shooting at a Nashville elementary school. 

“Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak,” Lee said of his wife, Maria Lee, in a message to Tennesseans on Tuesday. “Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night, after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday at Covenant.” 

Peak was one of six victims of the shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school. Three 9-year-old students, custodian Mike Hill and school head Katherine Koonce were also killed.

“Cindy and Maria and Katherine Koonce were all teachers at the same school and have been family friends for decades,” the governor said.

While Lee acknowledged the “difficult moment,” he emphasized that now “is not a time for hate or rage.”

“I understand that there is pain. I understand the desperation to have answers, to place blame, to argue about a solution that could prevent this horribly tragedy,” he said. “There will come a time to ask how a person could do this. There will come a time to discuss and debate policy. But this is not a time for hate or rage. That will not resolve or heal.”

“We can all agree on one thing — that every human life has great value,” Lee added. “And we will act to prevent this from happening again. There is a clear desire in all of us, whether we agree on the action steps or not, that we must work to find ways to protect against evil.”

Lee, who refrained from mentioning specific policies in Tuesday’s message, said last June that he did not support strengthening gun control laws following a series of mass shootings, instead focusing on increased security at schools.

“There’s one thing to remember, criminals don’t follow the laws. Criminals break laws,” Lee said at the time, according to The Associated Press. “We can’t control what we can’t control.”

Tags Bill Lee Bill Lee Covenant School Nashville shooting Tennessee

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