Shooter Kills Six at Nashville Private Elementary School
An assailant shot and killed six people at the Covenant School, a small private school attached to and affiliated with the Covenant Presbyterian Church in an affluent neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday. The shooter was engaged and killed by police approximately 14 minutes after the incident was first reported.
Six other people, including three students, were killed in the shooting: Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; Mike Hill, 61; and Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9. The Associated Press reports that Koonce was the head of Covenant School, Peak was a substitute teacher, and Hill was a custodian.
After Nashville Police Chief John Drake initially reported that the shooter was transgender, a police spokesperson clarified that the shooter, now 28 years old but who attended the school as a child, was a biological woman who used male pronouns in a social media profile. Most past mass shooters have been men.
Video released by police, which has been edited, shows the assailant shooting through glass doors to gain access to the building. Video footage from inside the building shows an alarm light flashing (there is no audio with the video) as the assailant stalks through the building in an apparent search for targets.
Police said they recovered a map of the school showing the shooter had surveilled the school and planned the attack. They also recovered what they describe as a manifesto.
Upon entering the school, the shooter had what officials described as an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol, and a handgun. They said they believed two of the firearms were obtained legally in the Nashville area. Authorities also said the shooter had no criminal history.
Police representatives said the Covenant School was the only target, however, they said the investigation of the shooter’s home or car had identified another school, but the shooter had decided the other school had too much security and focused solely on the Covenant School.
Another factor making this shooting unique is that the target school was a private school serving children from prekindergarten through sixth grade. Most previous school shooters targeted public high schools.
This was the 129th mass shooting this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The organization defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are injured or killed by firearms.
Data kept by Education Week shows this to be the 13th school shooting this year with injuries or deaths. To date, 10 people have been killed in school shootings and another 13 have been injured.