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Recap: Three children and three adult staff members were killed Monday at Covenant School in one of Tennessee's deadliest school shootings. Audrey Hale, 28, entered the school at about 10:11 a.m. armed with a rifle. Officers who responded to the scene killed Hale about 14 minutes later. Video footage shows a timeline from when Hale first got to the school until police fired the fatal shots.
Gov. Bill Lee said Friday he would propose a measure to increase school security measures statewide and was open to the idea of considering something similar to red flag laws, which has been enacted in other states including Florida.
Hundreds gather in Tennessee Capitol over gun control
Hundreds have already packed into the Tennessee Capitol, with more waiting to get through security, ahead of floor sessions Monday night. Many are parents who brought their young children. The crowd chanted “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now!” House members will be arriving soon and will have to pass through the crowd to get to the chamber.
Civic TN Coalition demonstrating at state capitol
Hours after students walked out of school to protest the Covenant School shooting at the state capitol, another group of protesters took to the capitol with a group of students singing "I want to learn by ABCs."
Walking for hope
Roxanne McClain is a mother and grandmother. As speakers from March For Our Lives addressed the crowd she sat on the capitol steps cheering.
McClain has written, texted, and emailed every legislator at both the state and federal level.
She said she can't explain to her own 9-year-old grandson why he lives in a world where people in positions of power act so irresponsibly.
"I cant fathom a world where our legislators will say, 'We're with you, our thoughts and prayers are with you, we're here to assist if we can - and they do nothing!" Said McClain. "They do absolutely nothing, they're not here to assist us. They're here to fill their pockets and to support the NRA and to support laws that by any imagation are irrational and unfathomable!"
McClain struggled to speak about her grandson.
"How do I tell him, 'You dont have to be afraid to go to school next year?' The two windows that you have walking into your school look just like the ones at Covenant School," she said.
"I don't know if I have hope yet but I'm walking toward that."
March for Our Lives
Thousands of students, parents, caregivers and concerned Tennesseans marched Monday to the state capitol demanding action to gun laws in response to the Covenant School shooting.
MNPS leader praises students for honoring victims
MNPS Director Adrienne Battle said she was proud of the students who participated in "walk-in" rallies hosted across the district on Monday.
She called the rallies honoring the victims of the Covenant School shooting and advocating for action and change, "meaningful and poignant."
“I appreciate all the school teams and student government associations who quickly worked together to hold these events in a way that allowed for an equitable and safe venue for students to build school community and voice their hopes and concerns," Battle said.
The district did not have an official count on the number of students who walked out to join the March for Our Lives rally that ended at the state capitol. Thousands attended the rally. MNPS spokesperson Sean Braisted said they will not receive disciplinary consequences if they work with their parents and school to follow attendance or checkout procedures.
Battle also said she appreciated the students who attended the Capitol rally, and that the vast majority appeared to do so by working with the parents and schools to follow protocols.
“While most students aren’t of age to vote, their voices in this conversation matter greatly, and I hope lawmakers and officials will listen and hear their calls for action and change as we work to build a safer society for all," Battle said.
Wilson County Schools protest Covenant Shooting
Wilson County Schools spokesperson Bart Barker said about 200 students from Green Hills High School walked out Monday. There were around 25 students from Mt. Juliet High School.
Barker said he wasn’t aware of any other school walkouts within the Wilson County school district.
Absences and tardies are subject to school policy and will be handled accordingly regarding today's walkouts, Barker said.
Democratic lawmakers stripped from committee assignments
House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, stripped two Democratic lawmakers of their committee assignments on Monday as punishment for their role in a protest and demonstration in support of gun control at the Capitol.
Sexton took the action against Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville. On Thursday, Jones and Johnson, along with Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, interrupted a debate about an education bill to lead protesters in calling for gun control. Pearson does not serve on any committees.
The three House Democrats approached the podium without being recognized to speak — breaching the chamber’s rules of procedure.
With a bullhorn, the three led protestors in the galleries in several chants calling for gun reform. At no point did any demonstrators make their way onto the House floor.
Sexton immediately recessed the chamber, halting legislative business for nearly an hour before it resumed, and ordered security to clear the House galleries.
Sexton said other sanctions, including expulsion, will be considered.
The last time the House expelled a sitting lawmaker was in 2016 when the chamber voted 70-2 to remove then-Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, from the House for alleged sexual misconduct. At the time, it was the first expulsion since 1980 and only the second since the Civil War.
Last year, for the first time in its history, the Tennessee Senate voted to expel a senator, stripping Sen. Katrina Robinson, D-Memphis, of her elected position following her federal conviction on federal wire fraud charges.
Gov. Bill Lee wants to beef up school security
Serious conversations on how legislatures strengthen school safety bill that was already in budget prior to Covenant School shooting.
"Today is the next step , but it is not the last step," Lee said.
But Lee would not commit to backing any gun reform this year.
"There is a desire to find a way forward that protects kids in schools and in a better way than we have today," Lee said in response to the thousands of young people who marched to the Capitol on Monday. "We care very much about them coming home safely, and we will work together to find agreement on a way to move forward."
In the budget proposal, Lee is asking for $30 million to expand statewide homeland security network with 122 agents serving students at both public and private schools.
Here is a breakdown of the bill proposal.
$140 million to establish a School Resource Officer grant fund to place a trained, armed security guard at every public school.
$20 million for public school security upgrades.
$7 million for private school security upgrades.
$8 million for additional school-based behavioral health liaisons across the state.
Police release details on Hale's deadly attack
Metro Nashville police said Monday afternoon Hale fired 152 total rounds, 126 from a rifle and 26 nine millimeter rounds from a pistol they carried in mass shooting. Police also said Hale acted alone.
Police officer Rex Engelbert fired four rounds from his rifle and fellow officer Michael Collazo fired four rounds from his department-issued nine millimeter pistol, according to MNPD.
Police say Hale considered the actions of other mass murderers. Evidence collected from Hale's vehicle and bedroom show journal entries planning the attack on Covenant School months in advance.
The MNPD’s Homicide Unit is leading the investigation into the murders of the six victims. The Cold Case Unit is working with the TBI in the investigation of the fatal police shooting.
Father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting speak out
Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Miami suburb of Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, killing 17 people and injuring another 17.
The father of one of those children spoke out in Nashville during Monday's protest.
“I’m not asking you to break the law, I’m asking you to break the norm,” said Manuel Oliver, father of Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.Oliver urged students, teachers and parents to practice civil disobedience.“I’m not asking you to break the law, I’m asking you to break the norm,” he said.He also called for universal background checks, red flag laws and the banning of assault weapons.
Speaker Cameron Sexton backtracks on Jan. 6 comparison
Following protests last week, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, initially compared the events in Nashville to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington D.C.
“You had people outside the chamber who rushed the state troopers to try and get inside the chamber,” Sexton said last week in a radio interview.
There is no evidence anyone rushed state troopers. THP reported no arrests or damage on Friday.
By Monday, Sexton backtracked, writing on Twitter his Thursday comparison to Jan. 6 was directed at three Democrat lawmakers, not the peaceful crowd of protesters.
Hume-Fogg student loud and proud
Jasmyn Milliken, a senior at Hume-Fogg and an organizer of the protest said they heard of the protest being organized by March For Our Lives and wanted to participate.
They were told that if they participated they would be suspended or face other disciplinary action such as having diplomas held and after school detention.
They organized the protest to begin off of school property as a way to abide by the rules.
"We're going to be loud we're not going to be silenced." She said. "We're hoping to send the message that youth stands for gun reform, we want to live to see the future, we want our loved ones to see the future."
Vanderbilt professor, MNPS board member speak out at protest
Eric Dyson, a Vanderbilt professor a media personality, stepped up to the microphone during the protest. “Guns are weapons of mass destruction, especially AR 15's which needs to be banned," he said. "Don’t ban books. Ban the idiotic, white supremacist, right-wing ignorance.”On Monday, Dyson suspended his own class at Vanderbilt's Divinity School so students could attend the protest, not just to talk about God, but to talk about justice.Cheers erupted from the audience as he blamed toxic masculinity and transphobia.
Abigail Tyler, a Metro Nashville Public School's board member, parent and former teacher, asked students to raise their hands if they remember a time before lockdown drills. Hardly anyone raised their hand.“I am so sorry … but we’re here to remind them that you are worth protecting,” she said.She urged people to vote and to find out what candidates support “common sense gun laws” and support them.
Students protest in Cordell Hull
Dozens of students entered Cordell Hull and are now staging a sit in outside the office of House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.
They screamed “Kids are dying, do you care” as Tennessee Highway Patrol shut the office doors.
They’re joined by Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, who is facing sanctions as severe as expulsion for leading protest chants from the House floor on Thursday.
The students began pounding on the floor in time with their chant.
"Blood on your hands," they yelled. "Blood on your hands."
MNPS student: 'I'm tired'
At least 1,000 students and staff packed into the gym at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High around 11 a.m. Student speakers took to the podium in front of six chairs with white bows on them — one for each victim of the Covenant shooting.
As student Trey Madison read a poem he wrote, students took turns lighting six candles.
"I'm tired," Madison's began. "I'm tired of turning on the news and seeing another bloody massacred that could've been stopped."
Madison expressed exhaustion, anger and hope alike as at those gathered sat with silently with somber faces. Some had their heads in their hands, some had arms around each other, others wipe away tears as a few sniffles rippled through the crowd.
"The ball is in our court for as long as the bullet is still in the chamber," Madison said. "Do not let those precious children have died for nothing. Do not let those selfless teachers have died for nothing."
Madison continued to press for a call to action as the poem ended.
"We are the future. It's time to take it back," Madison said. "I'm tired. I'm angry. I'm hopeful. I'm done."
Nashville college students join the debate
More protestors from Belmont and Vanderbilt universities arrived at the Capitol doubling the size of the crowd. Many of them also wore red and held signs denouncing gun violence.As they ascended the steps of the Capitol building, they chanted.
“What do we want? Gun control," they yelled. "When do we want it? Now!”
Others slowly passed through security inside the Capitol and started chants in the rotunda.
Several young people stood at the top of the steps inside, overlooking the line of protestors waiting to pass through security.
“Do your job!” they chanted at lawmakers passing by.
About 300 students have a police escort down Broadway during a planned walk-out protesting gun violence in the wake of the Covenant Shooting. pic.twitter.com/O0ndRquvH8
— Kirsten Fiscus (@KDFiscus) April 3, 2023
Students walk-out to protest at Capitol
Students from Nashville area schools walked out Monday to protest at the Capitol in the wake of the Covenant School shooting last week. High schoolers from Hume-Fogg walked the half-mile to the Hill chanting and carrying signs.
“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, the NRA has got to go," they said.
State Rep. Justin Jones joined in with the crowd as hundreds gathered outside the Tennessee Capitol in misting rain to demand gun reform from state lawmakers. The lawmaker last week interrupted House proceedings to demand actions as protestors chanted in the rotunda outside the chamber doors.
At 10:13 a.m., the same time the first 911 call came in about the shooting, protestors sat for a moment of silence. Some bowed their heads and clasped their hands together in prayer.
"No one here, no one in that building should be able to do their job. No one in that building should be able to vote on anything else or even bills that regard this without thinking about the lives that have been lost last week, last year or for the many years this has been happening and nothing has been done about it," a student said at a bullhorn on the steps of Legislative Plaza.
Hillsboro High School students: #ProtectOurStudents
About 16 students sat on stage in the Hillsboro High School auditorium. Many of them were involved with student government and helped to plan the rally in support of The Covenant School.
At 10:13 a.m., students began streaming into the auditorium and filling the seats. A PowerPoint presentation was projected on the stage showing the message: #ProtectOurStudents.
Many students, both on stage and in the audience, wore bright red shirts for the six victims of The Covenant School shooting.
Hillsboro is home to more than 1,200 high school students grades 9-12.
Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School hold "walk-in"
About a dozen students who had parental permission to walk out gathered near the main office of Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School at 9:53 a.m.Over the loud speaker, a woman’s voice read: “Hallie Scruggs, age 9.”The remaining students gathered in their advisory rooms, where they met with teachers who track with them for their entire career through high school.The school had plans through the morning for a “walk-in” as an alternative to the walk-out, including a rally.
The names of the other victims were read over the PA as students settled into their rooms. A special video address by MNPS Director Adrienne Battle was shown as the walk-in events got underway.Sophomores inside Cindy Montgomery’s classroom were each given a piece of a red paper heart to write their feelings and thoughts in the wake of the shooting. A few worked to tape the heart together as others finished writing their messages.“Wish you’d listen,” one read.“Students should never fear for their safety,” another said.Another message elaborated more: “The government should care more about the lives of 9-year-olds than the rights of gun owners. Will I be next? Those kids had so much life ahead of them. It’s not fair. Ban assault weapons.”
Around a dozen students gathered at the front of the school to sign out. Students were allowed to walk out if they had proper permissions. The rest are in their advisory classrooms, with teachers they track with their entire HS career. I’m in Mrs. Montgomery’s room. pic.twitter.com/okq0JvOtSn
— Rachel Wegner (@rachelannwegner) April 3, 2023
Community Foundation fundraiser exceeds $600k
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee established the Caring for Covenant Fund to manage donations to the school "because of the outpouring of love from our generous and thoughtful community," CEO Hal Cato said last week.
As of this morning, the foundation has raised about $601,860 from 3,840 donations, an average of about $156 per gift.
Donations can be made at www.cfmt.org/covenant.
Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School students: 'We demand action'
Students at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School began their planned walk out with a demonstration outside of the school Monday.
A small group of about 30 students gathered behind the school about 9 a.m. Many of them wore red as a way to honor the victims of The Covenant School.
One student organizer, Wyatt Bassow, took his shirt one step further adding the phrase “I don’t want to be your statistic,” and added a target on his back.“Student and teachers are filled with the fear of losing their lives yet they do nothing … They don’t care about us, so we have to make them care. We demand action,” one of the student speaker's said.“In our age range the number once cause of death is not car accidents but homicides by guns … I’m afraid to be out here and going to school in this country where guns are so easy to access,” student Nathan DeWitt said.
Demonstrations have begun outside of Hume Fogg High School where students are protesting for gun reform and red flag laws. pic.twitter.com/VHxH8uwjiV
— Diana Leyva (@_leyvadiana) April 3, 2023
Walkouts against gun violence expected Monday
March For Our Lives, a prominent national nonprofit advocating against gun violence, is organizing a student walkout for Monday morning. The organization is encouraging area students to walkout of classrooms at 10:13 a.m. and meet at the Capitol at 10:45, where demonstrators will call on legislators to support gun reform.
Ahead of the student walkout, Students at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School are planning a demonstration outside the school starting at 9 a.m. The demonstration will lead into the March For Our Lives walkout. Hume-Fogg students are planning the demonstration ahead of time so they don't walk out of classes and potentially face discipline, according to an Instagram post.
Organizers of the Hume-Fogg event ask students to not step on Hume-Fogg's grass, stairs or upper parking lot. Also, speakers who are already signed up will not speak about Metro Nashville Public Schools or potential discipline related to the walkouts. "This is focused on gun reform," an organizer said on Instagram. Participants are encouraged to wear red.
A rally for elementary-age kids and families is also planned at the State Capitol later on Monday starting at 4 p.m. "Our goal is to remind lawmakers of the lives that are at stake if they do not take action," said a post advertising the rally. "This is a peaceful rally with singing and chanting." Clergy and teachers are also welcome, and participants are encouraged to wear orange.
Comfort kits for Covenant School
Kris Wylder, a local Realtor and social-media personality, set out with a simple plan after the shooting at Covenant School — take care of those families.
What began as comfort kits for one Covenant class turned into $30,000 raised. Now, she hopes to schedule therapy dog and equine therapy sessions for Covenant School students and staff.
"It just kept growing and growing," she said. "Once a month we will check in with the families to provide anything that can offer comfort."
Wylder is still accepting donations via her Venmo account: kris-wylder7. She's reachable on Instagram @running.wylder.
Rutherford County Schools closed Monday for safety review
The Rutherford County Board of Education announced Saturday that all schools in its jurisdiction will be closed Monday for security reviews.
Director of schools Jimmy Sullivan said principals, teachers and support staff will use Monday to "debrief the situation that occurred in Nashville and review all safety procedures before students return," in a message to parents, students and staff.
Last Monday's shooting prompted questions from parents and staff, Sullivan said, so his staff made the decision to extend Spring Break by a day to review those practices and policies.
Who were the victims of The Covenant School shooting?
Police identified the victims of the shooting on Monday afternoon as:
Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, a student
Hallie Scruggs, 9, a student
William Kinney, 9, a student
Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of school
Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher
Mike Hill, 61, the school's custodian
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville shooting latest updates: Students flood Capitol for protest