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March 28, 2023 - Nashville elementary school shooting
By Adrienne Vogt, Dakin Andone, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN
Officials still have not determined a motive in the Nashville shooting. Here's what we know so far
From CNN staff
Communities are mourning the victims of a mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. Three children and three adults were killed Monday at the Covenant School — a private Christian elementary school, according to police.
The city of Nashville plans to hold a vigil Wednesday night "to mourn and honor the precious lives lost at The Covenant School," a flyer for the event shared by Mayor John Cooper said.
Here's what we know so far:
The victims: The victims of the shooting include Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; Mike Hill, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; Cynthia Peak, 61; Hallie Scruggs, 9; and William Kinney, 9. Authorities believe the six victims were targeted randomly. President Joe Biden has not yet spoken to any of the families of the victims, but said he is "working on that now."
What happened: Monday's shooting unfolded over about 14 minutes, according to police, and spanned two floors of the school. Police first received a call about an active shooter inside Covenant school at 10:13 a.m. local time, police spokesperson Don Aaron said, and rushed to the scene. The first five responding officers heard gunfire coming from the second floor. They went upstairs and confronted the shooter, who “had been firing through a window at arriving police cars,” police said in a news release. Two officers then opened fire, killing the shooter at 10:27 a.m. local time, Aaron said. Here's a full timeline of how the shooting went down.
The shooter: Audrey Hale, 28, was under care for an "emotional disorder," according to Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake. He said Tuesday that Hale, who was a former student of the Covenant School, purchased at least seven guns legally and locally. Investigators have yet to determine a motive, but believe the school itself was targeted.
Gun reform: Biden suggested Tuesday that any future action on gun violence will fall to Congress, as he said he has exhausted all executive actions. In wake of the shooting, he reiterated his call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban Tuesday and said there is a "moral price to pay for inaction." According to three senior administration officials, White House officials are not currently planning a major new push around gun safety reform.
Grim statistics: Monday's shooting is the deadliest school shooting since the the attack in Uvalde, Texas last May. There have been at least 130 mass shootings in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, including Monday's deadly shooting. There have been more shootings at this point in 2023 than in any previous year since at least 2013. The US is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years, according to Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University.
Nashville to hold vigil Wednesday night for shooting victims
From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch
The city of Nashville is planning a vigil on Wednesday night, according to a tweet from Nashville Mayor John Cooper.
“Join us for a citywide candle vigil to mourn and honor the precious lives lost at The Covenant School,” a flyer for the event says.
It will take place at One Public Square park at 5:30 p.m. local time.
The city has also set up a fund to help support the survivors of the shooting, the mayor said.
“It is important that we stand together on this dark day for Nashville,” he tweeted.
Governor says Tennessee first lady was close friend of woman killed in school shooting
From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch
Tennessee first lady Maria Lee was close friends with one of the people killed in the shooting at the Covenant School on Monday, Gov. Bill Lee said.
Gov. Lee, speaking in a video statement Tuesday, talked about the close relationship his wife had with Cynthia Peak.
Peak was supposed to come over to Lee’s home Monday evening to have dinner with the first lady after filling in as a substitute teacher at Covenant, he said.
“Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends," Lee said. “Cindy and Maria and Katherine Koonce were all teachers at the same school and have been family friends for decades,” he added.
Koonce, the head of the school, was also killed in the shooting.
“All of Tennessee was hurt yesterday,” Lee said.
The governor said things need to change and that there is more work to do.
“We can all agree on one thing – that every human life has great value. We will act to prevent this from happening again. There is a clear desire in all of us, whether we agree on the action steps or not, that we must work to find ways to protect against evil,” Lee said.
Majority of Americans want some gun laws to be more strict, according to recent polls
From CNN's Ariel Edwards-Levy
A majority of both young adults and the American public at large support the idea of stricter gun laws, polling finds.
In a new Harvard Youth Poll released Tuesday and completed before the shooting at a Nashville elementary school Monday, 63% of 18-to-29-year-olds say that gun laws should be stricter, with 22% saying they should be kept as they are and 13% that they should be made less strict.
That’s similar to a 2018 poll by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School taken in the wake of the Parkland shooting when 64% of young Americans thought gun laws should be made more strict.
Young Americans’ views are generally similar to those of the public as a whole. In a Gallup survey from October 2022, a 57% majority of all Americans said that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, with 32% saying laws should be kept as they were and 10% that laws should be made less strict.
Gallup’s polling has consistently found a majority in support of stricter gun laws since 2015. But the 57% who supported stricter gun laws in the latest poll marks a downtick from the 66% who supported stricter gun laws following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas late last May. Support for new gun restrictions often spikes in the immediate wake of high-profile mass shootings, before leveling off later.
Other polls taken after the Uvalde shooting also found significant support for several new gun regulations.
Here's what a CBS News poll found last summer:
- 81% of people were in favor of "a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers."
- 72% were in favor of "a federal 'red flag' law, that...allows a court to order the temporary removal of guns from a person who they deem a potential danger to others or themselves."
- And 62% were in favor of "a nationwide ban on the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon."
An August 2022 AP-NORC poll similarly found that 85% favored a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers, including private sales and gun shows, while 59% favored a nationwide ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and similar semiautomatic weapons.
Nashville shooting victim Mike Hill was father of 7 and loved to cook and spend time with family
From CNN's Sharif Paget
Mike Hill, 61, who was killed in the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville where he worked, was the father of seven children and had 14 grandkids, his family said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WSMV. He loved to cook and spend time with his family, it added.
His family thanked those who sent their "thoughts and prayers" and asked for ongoing support as they "grieve and try to grasp any sense of understanding of why this happened."
"We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years," the family added in the statement.
Nashville parents have set up a GoFundMe for Hill to help his family with funeral expenses. He was known as "Big Mike" to his students, the GoFundMe said.
His daughter, Brittany Hill, said in a Facebook post on Monday that her dad "absolutely loved" his job.
"I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution," she wrote. "I am so sorry for the loss of those children," she added.
"Please keep my family in your prayers tonight. Hug your parents and children a little tighter," she said in the post.
CNN's Taliah Miller and Jillian Sykes contributed reporting to this post.
Timeline: Here is how the deadly shooting at a Nashville elementary school unfolded
From CNN's Holly Yan
The sense of safety inside the Covenant School in Nashville was shattered Monday when a former student burst into the private Christian school wielding an assault-style rifle and killed three 9-year-old children and three adults.
The shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was killed by police. Authorities believe the six victims were targeted randomly.
Here's a timeline of what happened:
Hale sends an ominous message to childhood friend Averianna Patton on Instagram, Patton told CNN on Tuesday. The direct message from Hale said, “I’m planning to die today” and that Patton would see it on the news.
Disturbed by the message, Patton contacted her father for advice. He suggested she call a suicide prevention line for assistance, which she did. But because Patton was not the person at risk of harming herself, the call recipient advised Patton to contact local law enforcement, she said.
Around 10:13 a.m.
Patton calls the Davidson County Sheriff's Office in Nashville but was on hold for “maybe like 7 minutes,” she said. By then, the deadly rampage at Covenant School had already started.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department receives a call about an active shooter inside the school. Surveillance video shows the shooter entering the school by firing through glass doors and climbing through.
Timestamped surveillance footage from inside the school shows Hale armed with multiple weapons walking down a hallway.
Nashville officers arrive at the school, Police Chief John Drake said. Bodycam footage shows police entering the school amid wailing fire alarms and immediately going to several rooms to look for the shooter.
Officers hear gunfire on the second floor and rush up the stairs as the shots grow louder, the video shows.
Officer Rex Engelbert sees the shooter and fires about four rounds with an assault-style rifle. His bodycam footage shows the attacker collapsing.
Officer Michael Collazo then moved toward the shooter while it appeared a gun was still in the assailant’s hand. Collazo appeared to shoot the attacker on the ground four times with a handgun, yelling “Stop moving!” The officers finally approached the assailant, moved a gun away and then radioed “Suspect down! Suspect down!”
Sports teams honoring and raising money for Covenant School during games Tuesday
From CNN's Wayne Sterling
Sports teams are honoring the people killed in a shooting at a Nashville elementary school on Monday.
There will be a moment of silence observed before Tuesday night's NHL game between the Nashville Predators and the Boston Bruins, the Boston team announced. Players from both teams are also set to wear helmet decals with the Covenant School insignia.
Boston said its foundation will donate $10,000 to Nashville's foundation "to support their efforts in helping the victims’ families."
In its own statement, the Predators said the team is moving "forward with heavy hearts in preparation" for Tuesday's game.
"We will do our best to be mindful and respectful of the more important things in society today, continuing to pray for the shooting victims, their families and the entire Covenant School family, our hearts filled with love and hope for everyone affected," the team said in a tweet.
Vanderbilt Baseball announced that ticket proceeds from its game against Lipscomb Tuesday will go toward the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to benefit the Covenant School.
The money will be "supporting those affected by the tragedy that unfolded in the Nashville community on Monday," the team said on its website.
Police body-camera footage shows officers confronting the shooter
From CNN's Melissa Alonso
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!