March 28, 2023 - Nashville elementary school shooting

By Adrienne Vogt, Dakin Andone, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:08 a.m. ET, March 29, 2023
29 Posts
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5:07 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Police body-camera footage shows officers confronting the shooter

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

(Metro Nashville Police Department)
(Metro Nashville Police Department)

Editor's note: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.

The Metro Nashville Police Department released body-camera footage of at least two police officers who responded to Monday's shooting at Covenant School.

The footage is from the body-worn cameras of officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, who police said fatally shot the attacker on Monday at 10:27 a.m. local time.

At the start of the six-minute video, Engelbert is seen arriving at the school and exiting his vehicle. He grabs a long rifle from the car's trunk and heads toward one part of the building before heading toward a door. The officer approaches a woman outside the school who says the school is on lockdown but there are two children unaccounted for. 

The woman, a school official, directs Engelbert to go upstairs.

Another school official is seen handing the officer a key to open an exterior door into the building. Engelbert yells to his fellow officers: "Let's go, I need three!" 

Engelbert enters the school — about one minute after pulling up to the building — with other officers following and immediately getting into a tactical formation. About three minutes into the video, gunshots are heard in the distance and an officer is heard saying "It's upstairs, sounds like it’s upstairs."

The officers rush up a stairwell as the gunshots grow louder. 

The flashes from the shooter's gunfire are seen in Collazo's bodycam footage, which leads the officers down a hall to the suspect's position.

The officers approach the sound of gunfire and Engelbert rounds a corner and fires multiple times at a person near a large window, who drops to the ground, the video shows.

Collazo then pushes forward and appears to shoot the person on the ground four times with a handgun, yelling, “Stop moving!” The officers finally approach the person, move a gun away and then radio, “Suspect down! Suspect down!

5:35 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Childhood friend remembers substitute teacher Cynthia Peak who was killed in Nashville shooting

From CNN’s Sharif Paget

Cynthia Peak
Cynthia Peak (From Facebook)

Along with the Nashville community, people outside of Tennessee are grieving Cynthia Peak, 61, who was killed on Monday during a shooting at The Covenant School.

Peak, whom police believe to have been a substitute teacher at the school, is from Leesville, Louisiana, where childhood friends are remembering her.

Louisiana state Rep. Charles Anthony Owen said he has known Peak his whole life.

"She and my sister were the closest of friends growing up and it seems like Cindy was around for all of my childhood," he said Tuesday in a Facebook post. "She and Mae Ann had birthdays one day apart and her family lived across the street from us for a period of time. Cindy and Mae were always together."

Owen said in the Facebook post that when his sister Mae died, Peak was one of the first faces he recalled seeing.

"She was right here to grieve her old friend," he said. 

"I grieve through tears as I write these words, but I know Cindy is in Heaven with her father, Dr. Bill Broyles, her mother, Nell Broyles, and her oldest sister, Diane. I also can take solace that she and my sister are once again holding hands and smiling," he added.

4:52 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Biden says he hasn't yet spoken to families of shooting victims; discussions about Nashville visit "underway"

From CNN's DJ Judd

Biden talks with reporters as he boards Air Force One at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, North Carolina, on Tuesday, March 28.
Biden talks with reporters as he boards Air Force One at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, North Carolina, on Tuesday, March 28. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Joe Biden has not spoken to any of the families of the six victims killed during a school shooting in Nashville Monday, but said he is "working on that now.” 

The president told reporters traveling with him in Durham, North Carolina, that he has talked to "everyone but the families," including the police chief and the two officers who entered the building and confronted the shooter.

Biden also expanded on his conversation with Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty, telling reporters, “I expressed my concern and asked him if there was anything I could do to be able to help, and I understand from some folks he's a fairly reasonable guy.” 

The president said discussions about possible plans to visit Nashville are “underway now,” and his team is trying to figure out "what helps the most.” 

Biden said that calls for Congress to pass legislation curbing gun violence are focused on exposure.

“You know when people say, ‘Why do you keep doing this, it’s not gonna happen?’ Expose those people who refused to do something,” Biden said. “I'm going to keep calling it out, remind people that they're not acting — they should.” 

He reiterated that there’s “nothing absolute about any amendment,” including the 2nd Amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms.

“This is ridiculous, and it’s all about money,” he said. “Big, big, big money.”

4:20 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Officials working to find motive in Nashville shooting before possible hate crime investigation, Garland says 

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland (Pool)

In light of calls from lawmakers for the Department of Justice to investigate the deadly school shooting in Nashville as a hate crime, officials say they are focusing on identifying the motive of the Nashville school shooter.

In response to a question about the instance possibly being a hate crime targeting Christians, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland said investigators are "working full time" on this objective.

The shooting took place at Covenant School, a Christian private school.

"The police chief said at the last at his last press conference that they don't yet have reached a conclusion with respect to motive," Garland said. “We are certainly working full-time with them to try and determine what the motive is.”

"Of course, motive is what determines whether it's a hate crime or not," he added.

Some background: Earlier Tuesday, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley said he believed that the shooting in Nashville should be investigated as a hate crime. 

“We need to find out more about this individual, whether this person should have firearms at all — maybe should not have,” Hawley said. 

Garland was testifying about the DOJ budget request before a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

9:08 a.m. ET, March 29, 2023

"She was a person of grace": Katherine Koonce's friends describe her impact on the school

Katherine Koonce
Katherine Koonce (From The Covenant School)

Jim and Monica Lee are remembering their friend and former coworker Katherine Koonce as a wonderful human being who was sassy and full of grace. 

Koonce was one of the six people killed at the Monday shooting in at the Covenant School in Nashville, where she worked, Monday.

Jim Lee, who is an airline pilot, said when he heard about the shooting, he texted Koonce right away, but she never texted back. He started to get worried and tried to get in contact with other people who worked at the school. 

Soon, he got a text saying his friend was shot and later died at the hospital.

The Lees flew to Nashville when they heard about the shooting and the death of their friend because they just wanted to be back in the community. They now live in Atlanta.

“We love her and appreciate her so much, we just wanted to be here. We can’t bring her back, obviously,” Jim Lee said.

Jim Lee described Koonce as being witty and sassy with a “crazy sense of humor.” He said she made people feel like they were the most important person when she talked with them, everyone from her preschool students to board members and presents at the school.

“She had this amazing confidence but she was a person of grace,” he said. “She was an educator, but she also had great pastoral and counseling and nurturing skills or she had those CEO skills that could tell you that you need to kind of get in your place,” he added, with a laugh.

“They just lost hugely at this school,” Monica Lee added. “They’re going to have a hard time filling her shoes.”

Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled Jim Lee's first name.

3:20 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Writings found with shooter mention a mall, according to Nashville police spokesperson

From CNN’s Carlos Suarez and Mark Morales


Police found writings with school shooter Audrey Hale’s body as well as in Hale’s car, according to Don Aaron, the Metro Nashville Police Department's public affairs director.

Both documents were different, and detectives from the city's homicide and intelligence bureaus are reviewing the writings, Aaron told CNN on Tuesday. 

In the writings, Hale mentioned a mall near the site of The Covenant School shooting as another possible target, according to the spokesperson. 

Aaron would not confirm if the location was the Mall at Green Hills, which is up the street from the school. 

Nashville Police Chief John Drake said writings mentioned shootings at “multiple locations,” including at the school. 

Hale killed three children and three adults on Monday before being fatally shot by responding police officers.

Aaron also discussed the seven weapons that police say Hale had owned.

In addition to the three weapons at the scene on Monday, two shotguns were taken from Hale’s home, Aaron said. Police believe one weapon had been sold and the seventh weapon remains unaccounted for.

Aaron said the seven weapons were purchased between October 20, 2020, and June 6, 2022.

3:18 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

"We owe them action," Biden says of Nashville victims' families

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Wolfspeed, a semiconductor manufacturer, in Durham, North Carolina, on Tuesday, March 28.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks at Wolfspeed, a semiconductor manufacturer, in Durham, North Carolina, on Tuesday, March 28. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Imagres)

President Joe Biden addressed Nashville's deadly school shooting while speaking at an event in Durham, North Carolina, Tuesday, reiterating his call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and saying there was a "moral price to pay for inaction."

"As a nation we owe these families more than our prayers," Biden said of the families of the six people who were killed Monday when a 28-year-old former student opened fire at the Covenant School in Nashville. "We owe them action."

"We have to do more to stop this gun violence from ripping communities apart, ripping apart the soul of this nation, to protect our children, so they learn how to read and write instead of duck and cover in a classroom," he said.

The president called himself a "Second Amendment guy," noting he owns shotguns. But he characterized the weapons often used in mass shootings as "weapons of war."

"Why in God's name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets?" he asked.

The president pointed to bipartisan gun safety legislation he signed into law last year, after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, saying, "Don't tell me we can't do more together."

"It's a common sense issue," Biden said. "We have to act now."

5:44 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Firearms leading cause of death among children and adolescents again in 2021

From CNN's Deidre McPhillips

Firearms were the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in 2021, for the second year in a row, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Firearms first surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in 2020, after a sharp increase in the first year of the pandemic. Deaths from both firearms and motor vehicle crashes increased again in 2021, CDC data shows. 

In 2021, at least 4,733 children and adolescents ages 1 to 19 died from firearms. That’s a 9% increase from the year before, representing nearly 400 more deaths. About 4,300 children and adolescents died from motor vehicle crashes in 2021.

About a tenth of all firearm-related deaths in the United States were among children and adolescents. 

Additional analysis from the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention shows that firearm injuries, motor vehicle crashes and drug poisonings represent nearly half of all deaths among children and adolescents.

1:44 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Shooter was being treated for an "emotional disorder," police chief says

From CNN's Michael Hayes

The shooter was under care for an "emotional disorder," Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday.

"Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment" 28-year-old Aubrey Hale was receiving, he added.

Hale's parents "felt that (Hale) should not own weapons" and were under the impression Hale had sold one weapon and "did not own any more," Drake said.

"As it turned out, (Hale) had been hiding several weapons within the house," Drake said.