By Chase Smith
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Prayers, hugs, flowers, tears. All those things flowed on Tuesday outside of The Covenant School, the private Christian elementary school in Nashville, where three children and three adults were killed the day before.
At Covenant Presbyterian’s entrance, which is connected to the school, signs advertised the upcoming Easter service and a summer camp for children.
Those signs, which promoted a joyous time for the Covenant community, are now surrounded by yellow tape and police cars at the still-active crime scene as police work to gather more details on how Monday’s events unfolded.
People streamed in and out of the site throughout the day, laying flowers and other items, such as teddy bears, to commemorate the victims.
‘They Did Everything Right’
Angie Hawn, a teaching assistant in a nearby Smyrna school in Rutherford County, said she had to come to pay respect at the Nashville school.
Hawn said the news of yesterday’s shooting hit close to home as she works in a third grade classroom and has her own eight-year-old son, around the same age as the victims. She brought him with her alongside her “church daughter” from her youth group.
“Yesterday was a struggle,” Hawn said. “I’m in a third grade classroom all day, too. I just had to be here to be a part of the community because I knew how much community was there for me when I lost my husband.”
Hawn lost her husband in Iraq and recounted the importance of community and her faith when she lost him.
She is a youth leader at Lifepoint Church in Smyrna. The minor with her said she felt like she had to do something, and that was to offer her own prayers.
Hawn explained the school she works at is currently on spring break, but last week before the break, they held their own active shooter drill and lockdown.
“This school did everything right,” she said. “Our school being public, does have a school resources officer, but they had their own security measures in place here too. We are always thinking about how to protect the students.”
Hawn and the children were heading to a baseball field that victim William Kinney played at to hang red ribbons, the color of his team jersey. Those red ribbons were also seen alongside the highway near The Covenant School on Tuesday alongside signs reading “We are Covenant.”
Green Hills is a neighborhood around 20 minutes from downtown Nashville in the south part of the city. Churches are nearly everywhere you look in this community, as are shopping spots and restaurants.
Signs of the tragedy were not just evident in front of the school on Tuesday but extended to every part of the neighborhood and city.
Flags at several locations in the area were being flown at half-staff to commemorate Monday’s tragedy.
Other locations in the area were possible targets as well, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said in multiple press conferences.
Those included a possible mall attack and other schools. Less than a mile from Covenant and across the street from one another is The Mall at Green Hills and Hillsboro High School.
A sign in front of Hillsboro High read: “We stand with Covenant,” as students from that school walked out of the building at the end of the day to head home to their families.
The home of the shooter—28-year-old Audrey Hale—is on Brightwood Avenue, just about 10 minutes away from the school.
According to Nashville Assessor of Property records, Hale’s parents purchased the home in 1994, so it’s likely she spent most, if not all, of her childhood in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood itself was calm and lined with some large homes that could be found in any suburban neighborhood.
Passersby, a few journalists, and neighborhood residents exercising offered a wildly contrasting scene that occurred the day before, as Metro Police, the Tennessee and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents removed evidence from the home.
A piece of plywood was laid over the front door on Tuesday afternoon, with no sign of Hale’s parents being home.
While it appears Hale grew up in a nice neighborhood—the motive that sparked the tragedy she undertook yesterday is still being discovered.
The Epoch Times is working on learning more about the shooter, as details of her manifesto and possible motives have not yet been released by Metro police.