3 children, 3 staff members dead at school shooting in Tennessee, officials say

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At least seven people, including three children, were killed after a shooter carrying assault-style rifles opened fire at a Tennessee elementary school Monday, authorities said.

Three children and three staff members at The Covenant School in Nashville were killed in the attack. The names and ages of the victims were released Monday evening.

The children were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. Nashville Police chief John Drake said in a press conference that two of the children were 9 and one was 8. The staff members were Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

Police shot and killed the shooter, identified to NBC News as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a transgender woman. Officials say Hale had conducted surveillance and had detailed maps, as well as a document.

Drake said during a press conference the suspect appeared to be a former student of the school, but he was unsure when Hale attended the school.

"I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building," Drake said as he described the events before and after the shooting.

Image: Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at their school, on March, 27, 2023. (Jonathan Mattise / AP)
Image: Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at their school, on March, 27, 2023. (Jonathan Mattise / AP)

The shooting on March 27 unfolded at The Covenant School, a private Christian school and church on Burton Hills Boulevard in Nashville.

Don Aaron, public affairs director of the Metro Nashville Police Department, said at press conference Monday the first calls about an active shooter at the school came in around 10:13 a.m. CT.

The shooter entered the school through a side entrance and was armed with at least two assault-type rifles and a handgun, Aaron said.

Nashville police officers who arrived on the scene entered the school on the first floor and heard shots coming from the second floor. The officers "immediately went to the gunfire," Aaron said.

The officers "engaged" Hale in an upper level of the school building, described as a "lobby-type area," and killed the shooter, Aaron said.

The scene of a shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., on March 27, 2023. (WSMV)
The scene of a shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., on March 27, 2023. (WSMV)

The three children were taken to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead after arriving, John Howser, chief communications officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in a statement to NBC News.

Two other adult victims were pronounced dead at the Adult Emergency Department at Vanderbilt, Howser said.

The names and ages of the victims have not been released.

One officer was injured by shattered glass, officials said.

Police said students at the school, who range from preschool students to sixth graders, were being taken to Woodmont Baptist Church to be reunited with their families.

Nashville Fire Department spokesperson Kendra Loney said firefighters and rescuers helped bring students out of the school and tried to keep them from seeing the scene.

"We were on scene to help them mitigate anyone from seeing exactly what else was going on," Loney said. "But we’re sure they heard the chaos surrounding this."

The average enrollment of The Covenant School has ranged from 195 to 200 students in recent years, according to the school's website. There are 33 teaching faculty at the school.

On a normal day of class this year, there would be 209 students and 42 staff members at the school, Aaron said.

The Covenant School was founded in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to the school's website.

Investigators were reviewing video footage from the school to learn more about the attack, Aaron said.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com