School Shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee



Photo courtesy of NBC News.

On March 27, 2023, an armed assailant murdered six people at a small, Christian private school in the Green Hill neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee after opening fire inside the building. 

The Covenant School was founded in 2001 as a ministry of the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Jim Bachmann, a former pastor at the church, reported to The New York Times that

the church began the school in part because worshipers were finding it difficult to enroll their children in other private schools in the area.

The Nashville Police received a call regarding an active shooter at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian elementary school, around 10:15 a.m. that Monday morning. Nearly fifteen minutes after that call was placed, the shooter was dead, authorities reported to the Associated Press. The remaining students were ferried to a safe location to be reunited with their distressed families.

The shooter was identified as Audrey E. Hale, a 28-year-old former student of the school. Hale was local to the downtown Nashville area and was additionally discovered as having been treated for an unrevealed emotional disorder. While the shooter’s gender identity is unclear, members of the police department told CNN that Hale was born a female, however, used “male pronouns” on social media. Authorities continue to work to answer questions about who Hale was and the true motive behind the school shooting. It is believed that the school and the church that it is affiliated with had been targets, not any person in particular. 

A suicide note, weapons, and ammunition belonging to the Nashville school shooter were found by officers searching the attacker’s home, officials reported. The Nashville police released a list of forty-seven items and groups of items that they found belonging to the shooter, including several journals, two shotguns, cellphones, and laptops. The officers also found “3 folders, 19 journals,” including “firearms courses” and “school shootings” in parentheses near the entry, according to the search warrant published by NBC News. Hale also compiled a handwritten diagram of the school, along with a drawing of how it could be entered. In writings found in the car driven to the school and at the family’s home, police came across evidence that the shooter had planned the attack for months and studied “the actions of other mass murderers,” the Nashville Police reported to The New York Times. It appears as though the shooter had planned the attack months prior.

Soundless surveillance footage released the night of the fatal shooting captured Hale parking a car outside of the school and then proceeding to fire through two sets of doors, shattering panes of glass and allowing for entry into the school. With a weapon drawn, Hale could be seen walking through rooms and the halls of the school, at one point passing the children’s ministry. 

A six-minute video compilation of two officers’ body camera footage was released to the public the following day. The footage shows the officers racing through the school, past children’s artwork hanging on the walls, searching classrooms and bathrooms, and ultimately killing the shooter at 10:27 a.m. 

The police identified the six victims of the devastating school shooting as Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and William Kinney, all nine years old; Mike Hill, 61, a school custodian; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school. 

Following the horrific shooting at the Covenant School, Tennessee citizens have vehemently expressed their beliefs in support of gun control. Hundreds had packed into the Tennessee Capitol ahead of floor sessions on the night of April 3, 2023. Many were parents who brought their young children. According to a report by The Washington Post, the crowd continuously chanted “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now!” Additionally, thousands of students, parents, caregivers and concerned Tennesseans marched to the state capitol the following week, demanding action to gun laws in response to the Covenant School shooting.

The shooting has also proven to be leaving a major impact on the Tennessee legislature as well. Governor Bill Lee announced that he would propose a measure to increase school security measures statewide and was open to the idea of considering something similar to red flag laws, which have been enacted in other states such as Florida. In the Tennessee budget proposal, Lee plans to ask for $30 million to expand the statewide homeland security network with 122 agents serving students at both public and private schools.