A heavily armed 28-year-old fatally shot three children and three adult staffers on Monday at a private Christian school the suspect once attended in Tennessee’s capital city before police killed the assailant, authorities said.
In the latest episode of gun violence that has devastated American families and communities, the assailant opened fire just after 10 a.m. inside the Covenant School, in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood, where children in preschool through sixth grade had just begun their final full week of classes before Easter break.
The shooter, who the police identified as Audrey E. Hale, had entered the building by firing through a side door, armed with two assault-style weapons and a handgun, according to John Drake, the chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and went to the second floor, firing shots before being killed by the police. Chief Drake said that the assailant was “at one point a student” at the school. He referred to the assailant by female pronouns. The chief said the suspect identified as transgender but provided no further clarity.
The motive was not immediately known, but the suspect had drawn detailed maps of the school, including entry points for the building, and left behind a “manifesto” and other writings that investigators were examining, Police Chief John Drake told reporters.