Police on the scene at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Three adults and three nine-year-olds were shot and killed in an attack on a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday morning. The shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who once attended the school, was killed after being confronted by officers. Below is what we know about this developing story.

Shortly after 10 a.m. on Monday, a shooter opened fire at the Covenant School, a private, Christian school attached to a church enrolling roughly 200 students from pre-K through sixth grade, with 30 faculty members. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said the shooter, who was armed with an AR-style rifle, and AR-style pistol, and a handgun, entered the school through a locked side entrance after shooting through the door. The assailant shot at the victims in a lobby of the building. The first call for the shooting came in at 10:13 a.m. Police officers quickly responded, confronting and killing the shooter on the second floor. Investigators later found evidence indicating the attack had been planned.

Early Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirmed that three children who were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds had died. Soon thereafter, the hospital confirmed that three adults had been shot and killed in the attack as well.

Nashville police identified the victims several hours after the attack. They are:

  • Evelyn Dichaus, 9
  • William Kinney, 9
  • Hallie Scruggs, 9, was the daughter of the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, which founded the school.
  • Mike Hill, 61, was a custodian at the school.
  • Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60, was the head of the Covenant School.
  • Cynthia Peak, 61, was a substitute teacher at the school.

There have been no other reported injuries, other than a responding police officer who was wounded by cut glass.

Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Nashville resident Audrey E. Hale. Police Chief Drake told reporters on Monday that the shooter was “at one point a student” at the Covenant School. Investigators later found evidence in a search of the suspect’s home and car indicating the shooting was a “targeted” attack, including detailed maps of the school and a manifesto. Drake said the shooter was both “prepared for a confrontation with law enforcement” and “prepared to do more harm.”

As of Monday night, there continues to be confusion about the suspect’s gender identity. Police initially said the attacker was a woman, then Chief Drake later said the shooter identified as transgender. According to the New York Times, a police spokeswoman “said that the shooter had been born female but listed male pronouns on a LinkedIn profile, which suggested that the suspect was a transgender man.”

Police said two of the shooter’s firearms had been purchased legally in the Nashville area. Authorities have not released any details regarding the attacker’s motive.

As the Times points out, mass shootings perpetrated solely by women are extremely rare. There are only four, dating back to the 1966, in the Violence Project’s database of mass shootings in the U.S.

As in past school shootings, parents were instructed to assemble at a nearby reunification center to pick up their children, which in this case was the the Woodmont Baptist Church. And there was, again, heartbreaking footage of small children evacuating from the scene of a shooting.

Following a police press conference after the attack on Monday, Ashbey Beasley, a survivor of last year’s mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois who had been listening to the presser, stepped up the microphones and made an impassioned plea for gun control:

In remarks following the shooting, President Joe Biden described the deaths of the children as a “family’s worst nightmare” and commended the officers who responded to the attack. “We have to do more to stop gun violence,” Biden said, urging Congress to pass his assault-weapons ban. “We have to do more to protect our schools, so they aren’t turned into prisons.”

This post has been updated.

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