The three students shot and killed at a Nashville, Tennessee Christian school on Monday were just nine years old. Metro Nashville Police identified them as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney.
Three staff members were also killed when police say a heavily armed former student of The Covenant School shot through the glass of a locked door, shattering it before shooting and killing 6 people.
The other victims were identified later on Monday as Cynthia Peak 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill 61.
An active shooter was first reported at 10:13 a.m. local time after police said the shooter made entry into the school after firing rounds through one of the doors. Metro Nashville Police Department’s Don Aaron said a five-member team arrived at the scene soon after.
Gunshots were reportedly heard coming from the second level of the school.
Nashville police released video of the suspect entering the school late on Monday. In the video the suspect is seen driving into the school's parking lot past a playground with children, then firing rounds through two layers of doors with glass see-through paneling. The suspect is then seen walking through multiple doorways armed with multiple guns.
Police said officers engaged the shooter, who was identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale.
Hale was shot and killed when confronted by police. Officers initially believed Hale was a teenager, but later confirmed the suspect's age on Monday.
Police gave unclear details regarding the gender of the shooter.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters the shooter was transgender, but few other confirmed and clear pieces of information about Hale's life were made public by late Monday.
Police were not able to give a clear determination on a motive for the attack, but did give details on how the shooter had planned it, saying that a manifesto and writings were found that related to the date of the shooting.
Drake said Hale lived in the Nashville area and previously attended The Covenant School. He said authorities knew Hale's address and investigations there were being carried out by law enforcement.
Police said Hale was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun and had an elaborate plan to carry out a massacre including at least one map. Other evidence of surveillance on the building was also discovered.
Police say Hale is suspected of having considered another location as a target.
Students were seen being evacuated from the school holding hands as they boarded school buses to relocate them to a nearby church to be connected with their family.
A woman at the site of a reunification center in the city expressed disbelief with continued shootings across the country.
"How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?" the woman said.
She said she has been lobbying lawmakers for change since she survived the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, in July.
Tennessee's Gov. Bill Lee said he was monitoring the situation. He urged people to pray for the school and the Nashville community.
Police Chief Drake said during one of the Monday's news conferences, “I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building."
I am closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant, & the @TNDeptofSafety & @TNHighwayPatrol are assisting local law enforcement & first responders at the scene.— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) March 27, 2023
As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community.
President Joe Biden addressed the school shooting at the start of the SBA Women’s Business Summit that he had been previously scheduled to host at the White House Monday.
“It’s heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare,” Biden said.
The president again called on Congress to pass his assault weapons ban.
The White House confirmed Biden spoke to Tennessee's Gov. Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Tuesday about the shooting.
The White House ordered its flag of the United States to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims. Flags were ordered to be flown at half-staff on other government installations throughout the country until March 31.