June 1, 2023

Six people – including three children – are dead after a transgender female shooter opened fire at a private school in Nashville, killing three nine-year-old children and three staff members. 

The shooter was 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who at one time attended the school. 

Police said she identified as transgender, and online profiles show Audrey used ‘he/him’ pronouns.

At around 10.13am, she opened fire at The Covenant School, shooting and killing nine-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. 

Scruggs was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the pastor at the affiliated presbyterian church. 

Substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, head of school Katherine Koonce, 60, and custodian Mike Hill, 61, were also killed. 

Hallie Scruggs is seen with her father Chad Scruggs, the pastor at the presbyterian church affiliated with the school

Katherine Koonce, head of school, was among those shot dead by Hale

Mike Hill, a custodian at the school, was also killed

Katherine Koonce, head of school (left), and Mike Hill, a custodian (right) were among those shot dead by Audrey Hale

Audrey Hale, 28, opened fire at a Nashville school on Monday, killing six

Audrey Hale, 28, opened fire at a Nashville school on Monday, killing six

Hale's LinkedIn profile suggested they were now living as a man

Hale’s LinkedIn profile suggested they were now living as a man

A terrified child presses her hand against the glass of a school bus window after being evacuated from The Covenant School

A terrified child presses her hand against the glass of a school bus window after being evacuated from The Covenant School 

Children hold hands as they leave The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday after a female shooter opened fire, killing three kids and three staff members 

Terrified children peer out the windows of their school bus as they wait to be driven away from the school after the shooting

Terrified children peer out the windows of their school bus as they wait to be driven away from the school after the shooting 

Children from The Covenant School run past an ambulance on Monday after a female shooter opened fire, killing three staff members and three students, before being shot by police

Children from The Covenant School run past an ambulance on Monday after a female shooter opened fire, killing three staff members and three students, before being shot by police 

A father carries his son out of The Covenant School in Nashville after a shooter killed three students and two staff members before being shot dead

It’s unclear what Hale’s motive was, but police believe she attended the school at some point. She had detailed, drawn maps of the school and had been surveilling it, according to police. 

‘We have a manifesto, we have some writings. We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place,’ Nashville Police John Chief Drake said. 

The small school is run by a church and does not employ a school resource officer. 

Shortly before 10.13am, the woman entered the school through a side door and began opening fire on the second floor. 

It’s unclear how she gained access to the building. Police say all of the doors were locked.  

Police arrived at the scene and heard the gunshots coming from the 2nd floor. 

By 10.27am, she had been shot dead. She was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun. 

Parents have been told to collect their children from a nearby church, but no other information has been given. 

‘I know this is probably the worst day of everyone’s lives. 

‘I can’t tell you how sympathetic we are,’ a Metro Police officer was heard telling the parents as they waited at a nearby church for updates. 

Neighbors of the school watched as parents frantically rushed to the scene to find their children.

‘Everyone as a parent are terrified.  

Parents collect their children from The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday

Parents collect their children from The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday

Parents collect their children from The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday 

A family prays together after being reunited outside The Covenant School in Nashville

A family prays together after being reunited outside The Covenant School in Nashville 

A man carries a child at the reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist church after a school shooting, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Nashville

A man carries a child at the reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist church after a school shooting, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Nashville

A man walks with children at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at The Covenant School

A man walks with children at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a shooting at The Covenant School

Adults walk with a child at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church

Adults walk with a child at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church

Adults walk with a child at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church after the shooting

Adults walk with a child at a reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist Church after the shooting

A man takes two children home from The Covenant School after Monday's shooting

A man takes two children home from The Covenant School after Monday’s shooting 

Two adults escort terrified kids away from the Covenant School on Monday after a school shooting

Two adults escort terrified kids away from the Covenant School on Monday after a school shooting 

Children and adults wait outside The Covenant School in Nashville following the shooting

Children and adults wait outside The Covenant School in Nashville following the shooting 

Parents gathered in the sanctuary waiting for updates on whether or not their children were among those harmed

Parents gathered in the sanctuary waiting for updates on whether or not their children were among those harmed 

A police officer walks by an entrance to The Covenant School after a shooting in Nashville

A police officer walks by an entrance to The Covenant School after a shooting in Nashville 

Terrified children hold hands as they leave The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday after a shooter opened fire, killing three children, before being shot dead by police

Terrified children hold hands as they leave The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday after a shooter opened fire, killing three children, before being shot dead by police 

A woman holds her young child after a school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday. Three children were killed by the woman

A woman holds her young child after a school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday. Three children were killed by the woman

‘You don’t send you kid to school thinking there would be an active shooting, especially in this area. 

‘Just hearing as a parent myself it’s truly overwhelming. Seeing all the parents run up the hill to see if their children are okay,’ Lisa Debusk told DailyMail.com. 

Susan Perkins, 68, told DailyMail.com that her daughter and step-grandson were in the school at the time of the shooting, and unhurt. 

Her daughter is a communications director and her step-grandson is a sixth grade student.

‘I talked to my daughter and she was so busy she just couldn’t talk, just enough to say she was okay,’ said the mother, who lives in Knoxville, TN.

‘I’m just shaking with fear and so sorry that this happened,’ she said. ‘I just can’t hardly believe that three children got killed.’

She described Covenant School as a small, tightknit, Christian school where everyone knows and supports each other.

‘I did not think it would ever hap to my school and I would like to see the guns off the street,’ Perkins said.

Terrified parents wait for their kids at The Covenant School in Nashville. The woman was killed by police

Terrified parents wait for their kids at The Covenant School in Nashville. The woman was killed by police

Parents rushed to the scene to collect their children after the incident on Monday morning

Parents rushed to the scene to collect their children after the incident on Monday morning 

Children pour out of The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday

Children pour out of The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday 

Metro Nashville Police officers gather near The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., following a deadly shooting Monday, March 27, 2023

Metro Nashville Police officers gather near The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., following a deadly shooting Monday, March 27, 2023

Alison Grippo, 40, told DailyMail.com that she has three children in Covenant School who survived. 

As word spread of the mass shooting, she like other parents were directed to nearby Woodmont Baptist Church, set up as a meeting point as they anxiously waited for their kids.

‘She said her own children, like many others, were still speaking with investigators.

‘We’re waiting to be reunited with our kids,’ Grippo told DailyMail.com. ‘This is just hard to understand or put into words. We praise God in all situations, good and bad.’

There are around 33 staff members in the school and some 210 students. 

Many of those students were seen running from the building today in their school uniforms after the shooting began. 

Other schools in the area have gone into lockdown as a precaution, but there is not thought to be any additional threat. 

Parents are now gathering at a church next to the school. 

Tim Dunavant, a pastor at Harstville First United Methodist Church, said he hired Hill to work at the school over a decade ago.

‘He was the last employee that I hired when I ran the kitchen at the Covenant church and school,’ said Dunavant. 

‘That was over 13 years ago. He was still working there today when he was shot and killed. 

‘I don’t know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives. 

‘I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he’s the kind of guy that would do that.’

He added: ‘Goodbye Mike, I’m going to miss those encouraging texts out of the blue from you.’

The Scruggs family is pictured together. The youngest member, nine-year-old Hallie, was among the six victims

The Scruggs family is pictured together. The youngest member, nine-year-old Hallie, was among the six victims

Hallie Scruggs is seen with her three brothers and her parents, Chad and Jada

Hallie Scruggs is seen with her three brothers and her parents, Chad and Jada

The Scruggs family on vacation. Chad Scruggs and his sons were keen hunters, and his social media shows the family out hunting for wild turkey

The Scruggs family on vacation. Chad Scruggs and his sons were keen hunters, and his social media shows the family out hunting for wild turkey

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn was among the first to share her condolences.

‘Chuck & I are heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville. 

‘My office is in contact with federal, state, & local officials, & we stand ready to assist. 

Parents gather in the sanctuary of Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville on Monday after a shooter opened fire, killing three students

Parents gather in the sanctuary of Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville on Monday after a shooter opened fire, killing three students

At the National League of Cities conference on Monday, First Lady Jill Biden said: ‘I am truly without words. Our children deserve better. We stand with Nashville in prayer’

‘Thank you to the first responders working on site. Please join us in prayer for those affected.’ 

Sen. Bill Haggerty tweeted: ‘Devastated and heartbroken about the tragic news at Covenant School.

‘I’m grateful to law enforcement and first responders for their heroic actions.’ 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted: ‘I am closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant…as we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community.’

At a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the shooting was proof the ongoing need for stricter gun reform. 

First Lady Jill Biden, speaking at the National League of Cities conference on Monday, told the crowd: ‘We just learned about another shooting in Tennessee – a school shooting. 

‘I am truly without words. Our children deserve better. We stand with Nashville in prayer.’ 

Monday’s shooting is the 129th shooting this year.