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Nashville school shooting was apparently a targeted attack, police say

Six killed in Nashville school shooting including three children
Six killed in Nashville school shooting including three children 03:33

A shooter opened fire at a private Christian grade school in Nashville Monday, killing three children and three adults, officials said. The shooter was fatally shot by police at The Covenant School in the city's affluent Green Hills neighborhood, authorities said.

Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the preliminary investigation indicated the shooting was targeted. However, the ongoing probe has not suggested that any of the victims were targeted individually, authorities clarified on Tuesday. Police still have not determined a possible motive.

"We have no evidence that individuals were specifically targeted," said Don Aaron, the director of media relations at the Nashville Police Department. "This school, this church building was a target of the shooter, but we have no information at present to indicate that the shooter was specifically targeting any one of the six individuals who were murdered."

In subsequent remarks, Drake reiterated that police "feel that these students who were targeted were randomly targeted." 

Police previously said that a search of the shooter's residence revealed items that they believe pointed to a targeted attack.

"We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we're going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident," Drake told reporters on Monday. "We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place." 

The probe also suggested the shooter was a student at the school, though Drake did not know when, he said.

"What detectives have said so far is there's possibly some resentment for having to go to that school," he told "CBS Mornings" on Tuesday.

The manifesto included "several different writings about other locations" in addition to the school, according to the police chief, as well as "a drawing of how potentially" the shooter "would enter and the assaults that would take place." 

"There's quite a bit of writing to it," Drake said. "I have not read the whole manifesto. Our team and the FBI have been working on this." 

Authorities identified the victims as 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, as well as 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce and 61-year-old Mike Hill. All the adults worked at the school.

Police identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old from Nashville, who officials said was armed with at least two assault-style weapons and a handgun. Authorities released body camera footage Tuesday of police officers responding to the shooting and taking down the assailant.

People gather at a makeshift memorial for victims outside The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, 2023. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images

Drake on Monday described the guns used to carry out the shooting as two "AR-style weapons" — a rifle and a pistol — in addition to another handgun.

He said Tuesday the shooter legally purchased seven firearms from five different gun local stores, and that three of those seven weapons were used in the shooting. 

The shooter's parents were aware that the shooter owned one weapon, but were under the impression that the shooter had sold that weapon and did not own any others, Drake said. Police learned that the shooter "had been hiding several weapons within the house," he added. 

The shooter "was under doctor's care for an emotional disorder," according to the police chief.

Police released surveillance video Monday night showing the shooter firing through glass panes on doors and entering the building, then roaming hallways and going in and out of rooms with a weapon at the hip.

The shooter entered Covenant School through a side door and traversed the building, moving from the first floor to the second and "firing multiple shots."  

Officers entered the first story of the school building and began to clear it when they heard gunfire on the second level, said Don Aaron, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. The officers moved upstairs and, according to a statement released late Monday night, saw the shooter firing at arriving police cars. 

At that point, they "engaged" the shooter, who was fatally shot by two of the five responding police officers at the scene, Aaron said. Police later identified those officers as Rex Englebert, who had been with the department for four years, and Michael Collazo, a nine-year veteran of the MNPD.

The shooter was taken down within 14 minutes of the initial call, according to Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

"That's amazing, even for our remarkable group and it saved, I think, many lives," Cooper told CBS News.

He said the shooter had established a "tactical position" and that police body camera footage showed officers "rushing into gunfire." He said it was "clearly" a scene that would have been even worse if police had not gotten there quickly.

Officials established a reunification center nearby where students inside the school were transported in the shooting's aftermath.

"When we send our kids to school, or to any place of safety, we expect them to live, learn, have fun and come back from that day's experience. We don't anticipate things like this," Drake said.

Police officers arrive at the Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church after reports of a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023.
Police officers arrive at the Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church after reports of a shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27, 2023. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department/Handout via Reuters

Police now believe the shooter may have had other targets, including a local mall, Drake said Tuesday.

"We strongly believe there was going to be some other targets, including maybe family members, and one of the malls here in Nashville," Drake said. "And that just did not happen."

Drake said a search of the shooter's home turned up two additional weapons, "and I believe some more maps pertaining to maybe some thinking about some other incidents."

APTOPIX Nashville School Shooting
Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a deadly shooting at their school on Monday, March 27, 2023. Jonathan Mattise/AP

President Biden addressed the shooting in televised remarks on Monday afternoon. 

"It's sick," he said. "It's heartbreaking. A family's worst nightmare."

Mr. Biden again called on Congress to pass his assault weapons ban, as he did after the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, in January.

"We have to do more to stop gun violence," he said. "It's ripping our communities apart and ripping at the very soul of the nation."  

The White House said the president spoke to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Mayor Cooper on Monday and ordered U.S. flags at the White House and other federal properties to be flown at half-staff through Friday in honor of the victims.

First Lady Jill Biden also brought up the shooting in remarks given during the National League of Cities conference, saying she was "truly without words."

"Our children deserve better," Jill Biden continued. "We stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer."

Nashville School Shooting
In this image from video provided by Jozen Reodica, law enforcement officers lead children away from the scene of a shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, on March 27, 2023.  Jozen Reodica/AP

Covenant is a private Christian school in Nashville for preschool through 6th grade, CBS affiliate WTVF reported. Last year, the school held an active shooter training program, the station said.

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