By Chase Smith
Three children and three adult staff members at a private elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, were fatally shot on March 27 after a 28-year-old former student at the school opened fire inside the building, officials said.
The assailant, who was killed by police, was Nashville resident Audrey Elizabeth Hale, officials said. However, Police Chief John Drake said Hale did “identify as transgender,” during a press conference on March 27.
Drake said investigations are ongoing at a residence on Brightwood Avenue.
“We’re also determined there were maps drawn of the school in detail of surveillance, entry-points, etc.,” Drake said. “We know and believe that entry was gained through shooting through one of the doors.”
He added that Hale was a former student at the school but didn’t know when that occurred.
Drake said the assailant was someone “that had multiple rounds of ammunition, prepared for a confrontation with law enforcement, and prepared to do more harm than was actually done.”
Police are working through a “manifesto” as well as a map drawn out with plans for the shooting. He said theory to the shooting might be released later.
Calls about the shooting occurred around 10:13 a.m. local time and MNPD alongside Metro Nashville Fire Department (Metro Fire) responded to the scene immediately, according to officials from both agencies.
“Officers entered the first story of the school, began clearing it, they heard shots coming from the second level and immediately went to the gunfire,” MPND spokesman Don Aaron said at a news conference. “When the officers got to the second level, they saw a shooter, a female, who was firing. The officers engaged her. She was fatally shot by responding police officers.”
The officers had engaged the shooter by 10:27 a.m., roughly 14 minutes after the first call came in.
Aaron said the assailant had gained entry through a side entrance and had two assault-type rifles as well as a handgun, while Drake said the suspect had a map “of how this was all going to take place.”
Aaron said that on a typical day, there would be about 209 students in the building and approximately 40 to 50 staff members.
Kendra Loney, a spokesperson with Metro Fire, said crews are dispatched to active shooter situations for medical support and rescue task force response to go in alongside MNDP. She said fire department members went in as soon as it was safe to do so and attempted to provide life-saving efforts for survivors.
“Our crews were able to be on scene to pull out those that had viable signs of life, those that were still showing the option to be saved,” Loney said. “We did make transport of three individuals, three children, and two adults that were taken from the scene.”
She added that one police officer suffered a hand injury, but no additional first responders were injured in the response.
Faculty and students were escorted out of the building to a nearby reunification center. Loney said that mental health professionals were on-scene for students, staff, and families affected by the shooting.
There wasn’t a School Resource Officer from MNPD present at the school, Aaron said, since it “is a church that operates a private school.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment; the agency said on Twitter that it was assisting in the situation.