Nashville, TN – The Nashville police chief said the 28-year-old heavily-armed transgender woman who opened fire inside a small private grade school killing six – including three children – on Monday morning was believed to have been a former student at The Covenant School.
“At one point she was a student at that school,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) Chief John Drake told reporters at a briefing at the school late on Monday afternoon. “But unsure what year… but that’s what I’ve been told so far.”
Three law enforcement sources told NBC News that authorities had confirmed the identity of the school shooter and said she was a Nashville resident who may have entered the school through an unlocked side door.
Chief Drake told reporters that the shooter identified as a transgender female.
As a matter of policy, The Police Tribune no longer publishes the names or photos of school shooters so as not to contribute to fame-motivated attacks.
Nashville police said officers responded to the private grade school located in the Covenant Presbyterian Church on Burton Hills Boulevard in Nashville for an “active shooter” at about 10:15 a.m. on March 27, The New York Times reported.
Three children and three adults had been shot before police arrived on the scene, WSMV reported.
Police said the shooter was armed with two “assault-style rifles and a handgun” on the second floor of the grade school when officers arrived, NBC News reported.
She was confronted by five officers.
Chief Drake said two of the officers opened fire and fatally shot the active shooter, NBC News reported.
The wounded children and adults were rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where they were pronounced dead upon arrival.
Officials have identified the murdered children as nine-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, WSVN reported.
The murdered adults have been identified as 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, and 61-year-old Mike Hill.
It’s not known if the shooter had a connection to any of the students or school employees.
Chief Drake said one of the officers sustained an injury from broken glass but would recover, WSMV reported.
The police chief told reporters that a car found near the school helped police identify the shooter, NBC News reported.
“There was a vehicle that was nearby that gave us clues as to who she was,” Chief Drake explained.
He said investigators were combing through the dead shooter’s home searching for clues about what led up to the killing spree at her former grade school, NBC News reported.
There are reports that investigators found a manifesto in the suspect’s home.
#BREAKING: Audrey Hale, the Nashville school shooter, identified as Transgender.
The shooting was a hate crime against the Christian community.
Reports state that the police investigated and found a manifesto. pic.twitter.com/i4X5WW5yWk
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) March 27, 2023
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation, WSMV reported.
“In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper tweeted. “My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you. As facts continue to emerge, I thank our first responders and medical professionals.”
The Covenant School’s student body includes children from Preschool through 6th Grade, according to the school’s website.
It has about 33 teachers and as many as 210 children in the student body, according to The New York Times.
Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have responded to the scene to assist MNPD.