By Sandra Stojanovic NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) -Video released on Tuesday showed Nashville police officers fatally shooting the suspected attacker at a private Christian grade school on Monday that left three children and three adult staff members dead. The six minutes of footage, edited together from the body-worn cameras of two responding officers and released by […]
Footage shows police killing Nashville school shooter as investigators seek motive
By Sandra Stojanovic
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) -Video released on Tuesday showed Nashville police officers fatally shooting the suspected attacker at a private Christian grade school on Monday that left three children and three adult staff members dead.
The six minutes of footage, edited together from the body-worn cameras of two responding officers and released by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, showed police armed with rifles storming into the building and conducting a room-by-room search.
After clearing several first-floor classrooms, the officers run upstairs to the second floor as gunfire is heard. The officers run down a hallway – past what appears to be a prone victim – and into a lounge area, where the suspect is seen dropping to the floor after being shot.
Investigators were examining a “manifesto” written by Audrey ELizabeth Hale, the 28-year-old former student at the Covenant School identified as the attacker, hoping to learn what motivated the latest U.S. mass shooting.
Monday’s violence marked the 90th school shooting – defined as any incident in which a gun is discharged on school property – in the United States this year, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, a website founded by researcher David Riedman. Last year saw 303 such incidents, the highest of any year in the database, which goes back to 1970.
During a previous press briefing, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Hale self-identified as being transgender, although Drake offered no further clarity. Drake and other officials repeatedly referred to the suspect with female pronouns. Hale used male pronouns on a LinkedIn page that listed recent jobs in graphic design and grocery delivery.
Among various pieces of evidence under examination by police and FBI agents conducting an investigation were some writings by the assailant, including the manifesto and a detailed, hand-drawn map of the school showing various entry points, Drake said.
Drake told NBC the manifesto “indicates there was going to be shootings at multiple locations and that the school was one of them.” He said the Covenant School was singled out for attack but that the individual victims were targeted at random.
Investigators believe Hale harbored “some resentment for having to go to that school” as a child, he said without elaborating.
‘GET YOUR HANDS AWAY FROM THE GUN!’
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department began receiving calls about a shooter at 10:13 a.m., police spokesperson Don Aaron told reporters. The suspect was pronounced dead by 10:27 a.m.
“The police department response was swift,” Aaron said.
The body camera footage showed officers rapidly searching for the shooter, in contrast to the videos showing officers in Uvalde, Texas, waiting inside Robb Elementary School for more than an hour as a shooter continued his attack inside a classroom on May 24.
That incident, where 19 children and two adults where killed, called into question the urgency with which police officers respond to mass shootings.
The start of the Nashville police video shows an officer retrieving a rifle from his trunk before a staff member directs him to the entrance, telling him that the school is locked down but at least two children are not accounted for.
“Let’s go! I need three!” the officer yells as he uses a key to unlock a door and enter the building, where alarms can be heard ringing.
The video shows officers passing by bulletin boards with penguins and photos as they storm one room after another. When the officers reach the second floor, one says, “We’ve got one down,” before they race down the hallway to confront the shooter.
Officer Rex Engelbert and Officer Michael Collazo – whose body cameras provided the footage – both fire several rounds at the suspect. The video shows the assailant still moving on the ground as another officer repeatedly yells, “Get your hands away from the gun!”
Hale, armed with two assault-style weapons, one of them a rifle, as well as a 9 millimeter pistol, gained entry to the school by shooting through the window of a side door, authorities said.
Surveillance camera video posted online by police shows the suspect, wearing camouflage pants and a black vest over a white T-shirt with a red baseball cap on backwards, blasting through the glass pane of an outer door after driving up to the building in a car. The footage then shows the assailant stalking through a hallway as alarm lights flash.
The three slain school children, all age 9, were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. Also shot dead were Mike Hill, 61, a school custodian; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Katherine Koonce, 60, listed on the Covenant website as “head of school.”
The Covenant School, founded in 2001, is a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in the Green Hills neighborhood of Tennessee’s state capital, with about 200 students, according to the school’s website. The school serves preschool through sixth graders and held an active-shooter training program in 2022, local television station WTVF-TV reported.
(Reporting by Sandra Stojanovic in Nashville; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta, Kanishka Singh, Tyler Clifford, Rich McKay, Brad Brooks, Joseph Ax, Brendan O’Brien and Jonathan Allen; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Stephen Coates and Mark Porter)
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