By Jack Phillips
Officials have identified the suspect in Monday’s Nashville Christian school shooting incident as 28-year-old Audrey Hale and Nashville Police released surveillance footage of the suspect breaking into the facility. Six people, including three 9-year-old children, were confirmed to have died in the shooting.
Video Footage Released
The footage shows Hale, who Police Chief John Drake initially identified as transgender, arriving at The Covenant School’s campus before 10 a.m. Monday. Edited footage then shows Hale apparently shooting glass doors before she climbs through the frame while wearing a camouflage vest and a red baseball cap turned backward.
A Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesperson, Kristin Mumford, told The Epoch Times that the shooter was born a woman. However, Mumford and other officials could not confirm if she identified as a man or not.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Mumford added that she “was assigned female at birth” and “did use male pronouns on a social media profile.”
Several social media profiles, including a LinkedIn page, that were allegedly associated with Hale indicated that she used “he/him” pronouns in her biography. Meanwhile, alleged unnamed family members told The Daily Beast and other websites that Hale recently started identifying as transgender, although The Epoch Times cannot corroborate that report.
Then, the video shows the 28-year-old shooter entering several rooms while holding a long gun before walking into a room labeled as “church office” before coming back out. Later, the suspect is seen walking down another hallway with the gun drawn. The clips have no audio, and it does not show Hale interacting with anyone.
Drake told reporters Monday that the incident lasted about 14 minutes and that several Nashville Police officers arrived, engaged with Hale, and shot and killed her.
How Was the Shooter Killed?
A team of five Nashville police officers entered the school after the initial call, said Don Aaron, a police spokesperson. While clearing the first floor of students and staff, they heard shots being fired on the second floor. Two of the officers opened fire in response and fatally struck Hale at about 10:27 a.m., police said.
“The police department response was swift,” Aaron told reporters on Monday. “The shooter was deceased.”
The victims included three 9-year-old children, a substitute teacher, a custodian, and the school’s administration, officials said. Three 9-year-old children were identified by authorities as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, while the three adults were named as Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61, according to a prior update from the Nashville Police Department.
Police gave unclear information on the shooter’s gender. For hours, police identified the shooter as a 28-year-old woman and eventually as Audrey Hale. Then at a late afternoon press conference, the police chief said that Hale was transgender.
Social media profiles associated with Hale indicate that she was a biological female who used “he/him” pronouns. A LinkedIn page that purportedly belonged to the suspect included those pronouns in the biography.
“We’re still in the initial investigation into all of that and if it actually played a role into this incident,” Drake said.
Police said Hale was a former student of the school, but it was unclear if Hale had any current affiliation with the school or was related to anyone in the school at the time of the shooting. Police said the shooter had made a detailed map of the school and conducted surveillance of the building before carrying out the massacre.
“We have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” Drake said. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.” Later, in an NBC News interview, Drake stated that “there’s some belief that there was some resentment for having to go to that school.”
Drake also told reporters that police obtained a manifesto that was penned by the shooter. However, it hasn’t been released to the public, and it’s not clear when it will be.
Police said Hale had two “assault-style” weapons and a pistol when Hale shot through the front door to enter the building. At least two of them were believed to have been obtained legally in the Nashville area, police said. Investigators found a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other unspecified evidence during a search of Hale’s home.
On a personal website and LinkedIn page associated with Hale, she described herself as a freelance graphic designer and artist who liked “binging on video games, watching movies, and playing sports.”
That same website also included an image that Hale apparently made, showing a stylized image of Jack Nicholson’s character in the Stanley Kubrick horror film “The Shining.” It included an iconic phrase from the film, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” which Nicholson’s character wrote on a typewriter thousands of times before attempting to murder his family.
“There is a child-like part about me that loves to go run to the playground,” Hale allegedly wrote. “Animals are my second passion, so I also enjoy spending time with my two cats.”
A former school basketball teammate of Hale’s told news outlets that she received messages from the shooter via Instagram, where Hale called herself “Aiden,” before the incident unfolded. “So basically that post I made on here about you, that was basically a suicide note. I’m planning to die today. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!!” Hale wrote to Averianna Patton via messages given to Newschannel5. “You’ll probably hear about me on the news after I die.”
She planned to die by suicide and Patton would eventually hear about it through the news, the messages revealed. Patton confirmed to the news outlet that it was Hale who sent the messages to her.
Patton had responded to her and said: “You have so much more life to live. I pray God keeps and covers you.”
Speaking to the news outlet, Patton said, “I tried to comfort and encourage her and subsequently reached out to the Suicide Prevention Help Line after being instructed to by my father at 10:08 am. Audrey has shared with others that she had been suicidal in the past and I knew to take this serious.”
Patton added that at around 10:13 a.m., she contacted the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. She was told to use the office’s non-emergency number.
“I called Nashville’s non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home. An officer did not come to my home until 3:29 p.m.,” she remarked.
Patton said she is speaking out because she believes there should have been more urgency from law enforcement officials.
“After phone calls from friends, and Audrey’s name was released as the shooter at Covenant Nashville school, I learned that Audrey was the shooter and that she had reached out to me prior to the shooting. My heart is with all of the families affected, and I’m devastated by what has happened,” she said.
Chase Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.