7 dead, including shooter and 3 children, at Nashville Christian school: Here's everything we know

Police said the 28-year-old suspect was once a student at the private grade school and left behind a manifesto.

A 28-year-old suspect opened fire at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville on Monday, killing three children and three adults before being killed by police, officials say.

The slain children were identified by police as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all aged 9. The adults were Cynthia Peak, a 61-year-old substitute teacher; Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian; and 60-year-old head of the school Katherine Koonce.

Police identified the shooter as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who was from the Nashville area and was once a student at the school. Authorities initially described Hale as female before clarifying that Hale was transgender, having been assigned female at birth before later identifying as male.

Here’s everything we know.

How it unfolded

Children are evacuated after a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville
Children are evacuated after a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville on Monday. (Jonathan Mattise/AP)

The shooting at the Covenant School began shortly after 10 a.m., when police responded to a call about an active shooter at the school for preschool through sixth grade students.

The shooter, armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun, entered the school through a side entrance and “traversed her way from the first floor to the second floor firing multiple shots,” Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron told reporters.

Five responding officers arrived on the scene within 14 minutes of the first 911 call, Aaron said. Two of the officers entered the building, followed the sounds of gunfire and engaged the suspect on the second floor in a lobby area. They fatally shot her.

Nashville Police Chief John Drake said police uncovered detailed maps of the school in a search of Hale’s home.

A police officer suffered minor injuries from broken glass. No one else was injured. The rest of the approximately 200 students and 50 staff members were evacuated. And students were taken to a nearby church for family reunification.

America’s latest mass shooting

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the daily press briefing on Monday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

According to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot excluding the shooter, there have been 129 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, up from about 100 at this point last year.

Three have occurred at schools, including the deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University on Feb. 13.

At a previously scheduled event in Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon, President Biden bemoaned the country’s latest mass shooting.

“It’s sick,” Biden said at a women’s business summit at the White House. “It’s heartbreaking — a family’s worst nightmare.”

Biden reiterated his call to Congress for an assault weapons ban.

“We have to do more to stop gun violence,” the president said. “It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping at the very soul of our nation. And we have to do more to protect our schools.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also addressed the tragedy at the daily press briefing.

“So we’re seeing the heartbreaking news of another shooting of innocent schoolchildren, this time in Nashville,” Jean-Pierre said. “While we don’t know yet all the details in this latest tragic shooting, we know that too often our schools and our communities are being devastated by gun violence.

“Schools should be safe spaces for our kids to grow and learn and for our educators to teach,” Jean-Pierre said.

At an event earlier in the day, first lady Jill Biden, an educator herself, informed attendees about the shooting.

“I am truly without words,” Jill Biden said. “And our children deserve better.”

‘Aren’t you guys tired of this?’

Children being evacuated from the scene of the school shooting in Nashville
Children being evacuated from the scene of the school shooting in Nashville on Monday. (Seth Herald/Getty Images)

Following a news conference with police in Nashville, a woman and gun control activist who said she survived the shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., last year gave an impassioned plea to reporters.

“Aren’t you guys tired of being here and having to cover all of these mass shootings?” Ashbey Beasley said, according to USA Today. “I’m from Highland Park, Ill. My son and I survived a mass shooting over the summer. I am in Tennessee on a family vacation, with my son, visiting my sister-in-law.”

Beasley said she has been lobbying lawmakers in Washington, D.C., since the Highland Park massacre.

“How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?” Beasley added. “You’re not sick of it? We have to do something.”