Nashville school shooting: What we know about the shooter, motive in Covenant School attack
Officials are working to determine the motive behind a deadly shooting at a Christian school in Nashville as more details emerge about the shooter who killed three students and three staff members Monday.
The shooter was identified by police as 28-year-old former student Audrey Elizabeth Hale. Hale shot open a glass side door and entered the Covenant School with three weapons, including an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol and a handgun, according to police.
Officers killed the shooter in a common area on the second floor of the school, according to a statement from police. Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at a press conference Tuesday the shooter bought seven firearms legally from five local gun stores, including the three used in the attack. Police said previously officers found a sawed-off shotgun and a second shotgun at the shooter's home.
Drake said the shooter's parents believed their child had only one gun and sold it, but the suspect had been hiding several weapons in the house. Drake said if it had been reported that the shooter was suicidal or homicidal, police would have tried to take the weapons, "but as it stands we had absolutely no idea actually who this person was."
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Who was the Nashville school shooter?
Drake said Tuesday that police interviewed the shooter's parents, who said the shooter was "under doctor's care for an emotional disorder." Police said the shooter was a former student at the small, private Christian school who had no criminal history.
Bill Campbell, a headmaster of the Covenant School from 2004 to 2008, told NBC he could not recall any issues the shooter might have had as a third grader at the school in 2005 and a fourth grader in 2006. The Covenant School was founded in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to the school's website.
“There’s some belief that there was some resentment for having to go to that school,” Drake told NBC News.
The shooter was an illustrator and graphic designer, according to police. The shooter attended Nossi College of Art between 2018 to 2022, according to LinkedIn. In a statement, the school confirmed the shooter was a student.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to (Hale's) family, to the victims and their families and to our city," the statement said. "Due to federal guidelines (FERPA) followed by our institution, we are not allowed to disclose further personal information."
Police initially identified the shooter as a 28-year-old Nashville woman and continue to refer to the shooter with she/her pronouns in public statements. A police spokesperson on Monday told the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network, that the shooter used he/him pronouns.
What was the shooter's motive?
Drake said Tuesday police do not have a motive yet, but that law enforcement believes the students killed were "randomly targeted." Police found a map outlining how the shooting was going to take place and writings that show the shooting was "calculated and planned," according to a statement released by police.
Drake added Tuesday, "We also don't have a motive at this time."
Drake said other locations in the Nashville area were mentioned in the shooter's writings. He said the shooter determined one location had too much security.
Who were the victims?
Police identified the students killed as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. Hallie Scuggs is the daughter of Chad Scruggs, lead pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to a statement from Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Scruggs used to be an associate pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian, according to the statement.
The staff members killed were Katherine Koonce, 60, identified on the Covenant website as "head of school;" substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; and custodian Mike Hill, 61.
Police initially said all of the children killed were 9 years old. Drake later said one of the children was 8 and about to turn 9 but did not specify who.
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Contributing: Grace Hauck, Jorge L. Ortiz and Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY; Contact Breaking News Reporter N'dea Yancey-Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nashville school shooter: What we know about Covenant School shooter