3 children and 3 adults killed at Nashville Christian School
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A female shooter wielding two “assault-style” rifles and a pistol killed three students and three adults at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday in what marks the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country of increasingly enraged by the bloodshed in the schools.
The suspect also died after being shot dead by police following the violence at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school for around 200 kindergarten to sixth graders. Police said the shooter was a 28-year-old Nashville woman, after initially saying she appeared to be a teenager.
Authorities were working to identify her and determine if she had a connection to the school.
The killings come as communities across the country reel from a wave of school violence, including the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas last year; a freshman who shot his teacher in Virginia; and a shooting last week in Denver that injured two administrators.
President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak about the Nashville shooting Monday afternoon after First Lady Jill Biden spoke about the killings at a National League of Cities conference in Washington.
“I am truly speechless. And our children deserve better,” she said. “We stand – all of us stand – with Nashville in prayer.”
The tragedy unfolded over approximately 14 minutes. Police received the first call of an active shooter at 10:13 a.m.
Officers began clearing the first floor of the school when they heard gunshots coming from the second level, police spokesman Don Aaron said at a press briefing.
Two officers from a five-member squad opened fire in response, killing the suspect at 10:27 a.m., Aaron said. He said no police were present or assigned to the school at the time of the shooting because it is a church-run school.
The Covenant School victims were pronounced dead at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. An officer was injured in the hand by cut glass.
Other pupils made their way to safety on Monday, holding hands as they left their school surrounded by police cars, towards a nearby church to reunite with their parents.
“On a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded long list of communities to experience a school shooting,” Mayor John Cooper wrote on Twitter. “My thoughts are with the families of the victims. Our whole city is with you.
Jozen Reodica heard police sirens and fire engines wailing from outside his nearby office building. As her apartment building was locked, she pulled out her phone and recorded the chaos.
“I thought I would see this on TV,” she said. “And right now, it’s real.”
On WTVF TV, reporter Hannah McDonald said her mother-in-law worked at The Covenant School’s front desk. The woman had gone out for a break on Monday morning and was returning when she heard gunshots, McDonald said on a live broadcast. The reporter said she was unable to speak with her mother-in-law, but her husband did.
The Covenant School was founded as a ministry of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in 2001, according to the school’s website. The school is located in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood just south of downtown Nashville, close to the city’s top universities and home to the famous Bluebird Café, a favorite haunt for musicians and songwriters.
The primary school has 33 teachers, according to the website. The school’s website features the motto “Shepherding Hearts, Empowering Minds, Celebrating Childhood”.
Top legislative leaders announced on Monday that the GOP-dominated Statehouse would meet briefly later that evening and delay passage of any legislation.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he was “monitoring closely” the situation, while Democratic State Rep. Bob Freeman, whose district includes The Covenant School, called Monday’s shooting “an unimaginable tragedy.”
“I live around the corner from Covenant and drive past it often. I have friends who attend both church and school there,” Freeman said in a statement. “I have also visited the church in the past. It breaks my heart to see this.
Nashville has seen its share of mass violence in recent years.
On Christmas Day 2020, an RV intentionally exploded in the heart of historic downtown Music City, killing the suicide bomber, injuring three others and forcing more than 60 businesses to close.
A man shot and killed four people in a Waffle House in Nashville in April 2018. He was sentenced in February 2022 to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
In September 2017, a masked gunman opened fire on Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, walking silently down the aisle as he fired on unsuspecting worshippers. One person was killed and seven others were injured. The shooter was sentenced in 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.