School Shootings, an Epidemic


Mark Zaleski / The Tennessean

Students from The Covenant School meet with their parents at Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Sadly, three students were not lucky enough to be reunited with their family.

On Monday, March 27, a school shooting occurred in Nashville, Tennessee. The shooting was at The Covenant School, a private Christian school. Three children and three adults from the school were killed.

This tragic shooting was named the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history, which claimed seven lives, including the shooters. The shooter was identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a 28-year-old Nashville resident. The victims were 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, and administrators Cynthia Peak, Kathrine Koonce, and Mike Hill. Koonce was the headmaster of the Christian School and Peak was a substitute teacher.

Hale first arrived at the school at around 9:50 a.m. She pulled into the parking lot in a gray Honda Fit. Around 10:15 a.m., Hale enters the school through a side entrance that leads to the classrooms of grades K-6. She enters with two assault rifles and a handgun. Hale shoots the glass doors at the entrance upon arriving. Right after the shooter entered the school, the Nashville police office received a call about an active shooter on campus. Exactly ten minutes after the first 911 call, the police arrive on site. Hale shot the incoming police through a second-story window. The police officers found Hale on the second floor. Right after, Hale was shot. Around 11 a.m., five out of the six victims were rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Sadly, all the victims were pronounced dead.

It was announced by police that Hale was a former student at The Covenant School. She was a graphic designer who lived not very far from the school. Also, the police later discovered that the attack was planned by the shooter. Ashley Hale messaged her former middle school basketball teammate, Averianna Patton, right before the attack. Patton received messages from Hale apologizing and stating how she wants to die.

Brink Fidler, an owner of a company that trains schools on what to do during a school shooting, told CNN, “The only victims this shooter was able to get to were victims that were stuck in some sort of open area or hallway. Several were able to evacuate safely. The ones that couldn’t do that safely did exactly what they were taught and trained to do.”

Since the school is a private institution run by a church, there was no officer assigned by the city to guard the school. Yet, the police responded very quickly, with only an 11-minute gap between the first 911 call. The quick response helped save so many lives.

The Nashville Police Department Chief released a statement saying, “From what I’ve seen, I don’t have a particular problem with it. But we always want to get better. We always want to get there in 2 or 3 minutes, and so there’s a lot of things that could have happened – traffic was locked down, etc.”

Hale was being treated for an “emotional disorder” occurring to her parents. She was under care for her mental health and suicidal thoughts.

The Nashville Police department also released that Hale planned other targets after the school. One of the targets was the local mall. The police also believe there could have been other family members that were targeted.

As of right now, the police have no motive behind the attacks. Though, they believe Hale could have had grudges against the school since she attended it.

John Drake, the Chief of the MNPD stated to The Tennessean, “What detectives have said so far is there is possibly some resentment for having to go to that school. There’s a connection with that family.”

Now, Nashville is in a mourning period. Multiple vigils were planned all over the city, which had an overwhelming turnout. On the main drive that leads into the school, a memorial was set up. People came by to drop off flowers, stuffed animals, candles, and notes. A candlelight vigil was also arranged at Public Square Park In Nashville where many important figures will be speaking at. In addition, the Vanderbilt baseball team is dedicating its next game to raising money for all the victims and their families.

Governor Bill Lee shared his remorse and sadness about the tragic event, “Like many of you, I’ve experienced tragedy in my own life, and I’ve experienced the day after that tragedy. I woke up this morning with a very familiar feeling, and I recognize that today many Tennesseans are feeling the exact same way — the emptiness, the lack of understanding, the desperate desire for answers, and the desperate need for hope.”

This shooting has been one of the many school shootings that have devastated our country just this year. Sadly, this was the 19th school shooting in just the past three months. Also, this year, this marks the 130th mass shooting in 2023. Recently, another school shooting occurred at Michigan State University where many were injured. School shootings are a growing epidemic in America and so many are being affected.