On Monday morning at 9:54 a.m. on Mar. 27, 2023, The Covenant School, a Nashville Christian elementary school, was targeted by an active shooter. Three employees, Katherine Koonce (head of the school, aged 60), Mike Hill (custodian, aged 61), and Cynthia Peak (substitute teacher, aged 61), and three nine-year-old students, Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, were shot and killed before the shooter was stopped and killed by police.
Police released six minutes of police body camera footage and two minutes of security camera footage. The event spanned at most 15 minutes.
The shooter was identified as 28-year-old transgender man Aidan Hale, previously known as Audrey Hale, a former student at The Covenant School.
A message Hale sent at 9:57 a.m. to a former classmate, Averianna Patton, stated, “I’m planning to die today. You’ll probably hear about me on the news after I die.” After another message ominously stating “something bad is about to happen,” Patton called the Suicide Prevention Help Line and the Nashville Police.
Shortly after, Hale was seen through security camera footage breaking into the elementary school with three guns: A KelTec SUB200, a semi-automatic rifle; an M&P 9mm semi-automatic handgun and a grunt rifle.
At 10:13 am, Nashville police were notified of the shooter threat. At 10:26 am, the officers and Hale exchanged gunfire, then confirmed that the shooter had died.
Though Nashville police and the FBI have gone through writings and documents left by Hale, a motive for the shooting remains undisclosed for the time being. What is known, however, is that the shooting was planned for many months and that Hale studied the actions of other mass murderers.
Immediately following this tragedy came many protests and walk-outs that took place outside the state capitol demanding more restrictive gun control legislation. In recent years, Tennessee’s government has loosened gun laws in the state, such as lowering the minimum age to carry handguns to 18. This legislative change took place the same day as the shooting.
As a response to the protests, Governor Bill Lee and state lawmakers decided to add more funding to schools for mental health resources, armed security guards and an extension to the state’s homeland security network to include public and private schools.
Although this might contribute to lowering rates of gun violence in schools, the state government has yet to add any restrictions to gun policy in Tennessee this year.
To donate to survivors of the shooting, please visit https://www.cfmt.org/story/support-survivors-of-the-covenant-school-shooting/