Averianna Patton, a classmate and basketball teammate of Audrey Hale’s from middle school, was so alarmed, she called a suicide prevention hotline, area deputies and Nashville police.
The 28-year-old who killed six people at a Nashville elementary school on Monday warned someone that something was about to happen. That someone was Averianna Patton, a classmate and basketball teammate from middle school, who was so alarmed by the Instagram direct messages she received that she contacted authorities.
Patton told NBC News she saw the messages from Audrey Hale, who has been identified as the mass killer, just before 10 a.m. Less than a half-hour later, Nashville Police began getting calls about an active shooter at The Covenant School, where the armed Hale fatally shot three children and three adults. Hale, a former Covenant School student, also died.
“I’m trying to still understand. … Just to learn that I received a message before, it’s just like, ‘Wow,'” Patton said. “Just pray, just pray.”
In the messages, according to Patton, Hale talked about a desire to die and said family members had no idea what was about to happen.
A shocked Patton said she first sent a screenshot of the messages to her father and asked him if she should get in touch with someone. He texted back “‘YES’ in all caps,” she told NBC News. “So after that, that’s when I started making calls.”
Her first call, she said, was to a suicide prevention hotline. Since she was not the one in need of help, she told CNN, she was referred to the local deputy. She said she called the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office; they told her to call the police number for non-emergencies.
When she got a person on the line after a seven-minute wait, she told CNN, “I was trying to tell her what was going on, and they were like, ‘OK, we’ll send somebody over to you.'”
Patton told NBC that by the time someone came to her home, she had left for a meeting. She found out later about the carnage that took place and who was responsible.
The sheriff’s office and police both confirmed they got calls from her.
It’s been years since Patton and Hale were classmates and teammates at Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School.
“I knew her when we were kids. I didn’t know the adult Audrey,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon.
Patton said she saw Hale recently at one of her events. “I’m an influencer here in Nashville. I’ve worked in radio, I do news. She was most recently at my TV show.”
She told NBC that when she saw Hale a few weeks ago, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Asked by Lemon why she thought Hale reached out to her before the massacre, she replied, “I’m asking God the same question.”
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